REM puts Montréal on track for better commutes and a greener future

Published August 3, 2023.

Montréal’s highly anticipated Réseau express métropolitain, or REM, officially opened its automated doors to the public on Friday and offered free service over the weekend. Nearly 120,000 riders enjoyed a scenic commute between Montréal’s downtown Gare Centrale station and Brossard.

The new rail line is a game-changer for daily commutes in and around Montréal and is set to benefit transit riders, cyclists, and drivers alike. With the REM, daily commutes are set to become much faster and more efficient, with a 40-minute car journey reduced to just 18 minutes on the light-rail system. Riders can even bring their bicycles and pets on-board as part of a current pilot project. The REM will run for 20 hours a day, seven days a week. During peak hours, trains will be available every three and a half minutes, while off-peak times will see them arrive every seven minutes. This means that up to 30,000 cars could be taken off the road daily, which is excellent news in the face of rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The REM is set to reduce GHG emissions by an incredible 100,000 tonnes each year, significantly improving air quality and making daily life easier for everyone in and around Montréal.

Besides its efficiency and environmental benefits, the REM will also provide riders with access to Wi-Fi. The trains are designed to carry a high capacity of riders to ensure comfort during peak periods. If a train reaches its maximum capacity of 750 riders, lights above each entry provide a signal to those about to board about what they can expect on the next train. That way, riders can choose to wait for the next train for a more comfortable experience. There are also lovely opportunities to take in a scenic view of the city as the REM passes over the Champlain Bridge.

Proposed by CDPQ Infra, a subsidiary of la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the first phase of the project took eight years to complete with funding support from federal, provincial, and municipal governments, Hydro-Québec, along with NouvLR, Groupe PM, and various mobility partners across the Montréal area.

The opening of this first section of the REM is part of a 67km project that, once completed, will total 26 stations. The light-rail system spans from Brossard to Deux-Montagnes, with lines extending to Anse-À-l’Orme and Montréal-Trudeau airport. The entire project is set to be completed by 2027.

It’s exciting to see all the possibilities the REM provides. What’s more, it sets an impressive example of what we can expect if we expand regional transit systems in other Canadian cities.