Off-Island mayors say there needs to be a vast improvement in public transportation before they would say yes to tolls to reach Montreal.
The idea of tolls made news last week after the federal government said it would likely impose a toll on the Champlain Bridge after it is rebuilt to recoup some of the construction cost.
The city of Montreal responded it would be in favour of tolls, but only if they would be applied on every bridge entering the island.
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon, who sits on the transport commission of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, said there needs to be a major investment in public transit before residents of his city can be asked to pay more.
“You have to propose alternatives before you can ask for one penny,” Pilon said.
He’d like to see more buses, a reserved lane for buses on Highway 20 and Highway 40, and an improvement in train service.
He said motorists will not want to pay a toll if they’re still going to end up in congestion during rush hour.
“There has to be a clear benefit,” he said. “For example, when I go to St-Timothée, I’m very happy to pay a toll to use Highway 30, because I get there in 14 minutes, as opposed to an hour.
“If you tell people that it will be $2 to get to Montreal, but it will be fast, and you will gain that back in time and in gas expenses, people will accept it.”
He added that tolls are just part of the solution, because 60 per cent of the traffic problems in Montreal are caused by motorists that live on the island. So there should be a toll for people who drive into the downtown core.
“There’s no way the cities on the outskirts will be in favour of a toll, when Montreal residents are causing 60 per cent of the problem,” he said.
Pincourt Mayor Yvan Cardinal agreed with the idea of a toll for downtown, saying many residents of Île-Perrot often drive to and from Montreal’s West Island.
He said he’d like to see an improvement in the road network before a toll is imposed.
“We’d like to see the completion of Highway 20 here,” he said. “This is the only place in the province where we have traffic lights on this highway.”