Public transit coming west? Election promises of light-rail, more buses
A light-rail train coming into Aylmer was the focus of an Action Gatineau press conference held September 18 in Aylmer. The party’s four local candidates for council, plus Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, mayor and party leader, announced the party’s support for extending rapid public transit into Aylmer via a light rail system, similar to Ottawa’s multi-billion dollar project.
Gatineau’s transit authority, the STO, has studied the Ministry of Transport’s requirements for rapid-transit corridors. “Their results will be published in the coming weeks,” Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin promised; by then, “we will then know if the STO’s preliminary plans fit with the MTQ requirements.”
A second study by the STO will look at integrating the possible Gatineau rail system with Ottawa’s. “Focusing on light train is ecological, comfortable and user-friendly,” the mayor told the Bulletin. Light-rail opens the project to more funding from the province and from Ottawa, with electrical energy as the power source for the system, rather than, for example, funding the operating Rapibus system, which was also promised to be extended westward. Quebec is encouraging the use of electricity in transportation.
Independent candidates unimpressed
Independent candidates were quick to respond. Clément Bélanger, mayoral candidate, said he has already included the light-rail plan as part of his public transit platform, but also improving existing bus routes. To deal with traffic congestion, Bélanger advocates building at least one federal government building in Aylmer.
Audrey Bureau, candidate in Ward 1, told the Bulletin she is “astounded” Action Gatineau is making an announcement on light rail: “There is nothing new here. The light rail plan has been on the books, and there is no financial plan to pay for it. Unlike Ottawa, Gatineau hasn’t saved-up money or gas tax rebates as it is all being spent on infrastructure.” Bureau added that residents need a solution now, not years from now, which a light rail system will require. She told the Bulletin Aylmer needs additional buses during peak times – “immediately”.