BY ANDY RIGA, GAZETTE TRANSPORTATION REPORTER OCTOBER 28, 2013

MONTREAL — The city of Côte St-Luc says it will block the Montreal transit authority from creating reserved bus lanes on parts of Cavendish Blvd. and Côte St-Luc Rd.

The lanes — planned for 2014 — would cause car congestion and take away parking while doing nothing to improve transit, Côte St-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather told The Gazette.

“Buses are not lagging in traffic jams in Côte St-Luc,” he said. And on one targeted stretch in neighbouring Montreal where congestion is indeed a problem, adding a bus lane will just make things worse, Housefather added.

Last week, the Société de transport de Montréal said it plans to install rush-hour reserved bus lanes on Côte St-Luc Rd. and Cavendish Blvd., parts of which are under Côte St-Luc’s jurisdiction.

It costs between $100,000 and $1 million to install bus lanes and priority traffic lights for buses, the STM says. The Quebec government is footing the bill for lanes put in place through 2016.

STM spokesperson Amélie Régis said lanes are going on roads with a “strong potential for ridership growth.” Lanes make buses more efficient, which helps attract more passengers, she added.

After hearing about the lanes in June, Côte St-Luc sent the STM a letter outlining its objections. It argued the lanes would have a “negative impact on traffic patterns and on-street parking.”

That’s why Housefather was surprised to hear the STM is pushing ahead.

“There has been no consultation with us at all,” he said. “It’s quite disturbing the STM would presume to announce things covering our territory without talking to us and knowing we object.”

He said the STM needs his city’s consent. “They can’t tell a city, ‘We’re going to put a reserved bus lanes in, reducing traffic from three lanes to two lanes on one of your streets,’ ” Housefather said. “They have absolutely no right to do that and we will not allow it.”

The STM plans to create bus lanes on:

Côte St-Luc Rd.

Eastbound, it would go from Sunnybrooke Ave. to Décarie Blvd. Westbound, it would run from Décarie Blvd. to Girouard Ave.; and from Alpine Ave. to Hudson Ave.

Cavendish Blvd.

Southbound, it would go from Louis-Pasteur Rd. to Heywood Rd.; and from Fleet Rd. to Monkland Ave. Northbound, it would run from Monkland to Fleet; and Kildare Rd. to Louis-Pasteur Rd.

On the Côte St-Luc portion of Cavendish, traffic is light and bus congestion is not a problem, Housefather said.

The jurisdiction of Côte St-Luc Rd. is shared. Côte St-Luc and Hampstead control much of the westbound side, while the city of Montreal controls eastbound lanes.

Housefather said westbound traffic on Côte St-Luc Rd. is not heavy, even at rush hour, so buses are not slowed down by cars.

Eastbound, there is little traffic between Westminster and Cavendish, he added.

East of Cavendish, eastbound congestion is intense during morning rush hour, with drivers backed up for several blocks waiting to get on the Décarie Expressway, Housefather noted.

Congestion there is expected to worsen early next year when Transport Quebec closes St-Jacques St. for 18 months for work on the new Turcot Interchange.

Côte St-Luc has no jurisdiction over this part of Côte St-Luc Rd., but many of the city’s residents will be affected if traffic worsens, Housefather said.

Adding a bus lane to that stretch of eastbound Côte St-Luc Rd. near Décarie “would cause immeasurable nuisance for motorists,” he said. “You’re going to cause motorists untold delays for a bus that comes every 20 minutes.”

Three buses operate on the section of Côte St-Luc Rd. near Décarie: 17-Décarie, 66-The Boulevard and 102-Somerled. Each runs twice per hour at rush hour.

The STM says heavy car traffic is one reason a bus lane is being added to this section of Côte St-Luc Rd.

“We want to encourage a shift from cars to public transport and thus to relieve traffic in the area,” Régis said. “Remember, a regular bus keeps about 50 cars off the road.”

Told that Côte St-Luc plans to block the lanes, the STM’s Régis said the authority “will continue discussions with the city of Côte St-Luc.”

Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg said his town will review the STM’s plan and consult residents who would lose parking. He said he’s not sure his municipality could block the lane if it objected.

ariga@montrealgazette.com

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