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Québec City cross-city tram plans hit the buffers

Three designs for a new Québec tram were produced for public consultation. Iage courtesy of Ville de Québec

After public hearings held during summer 2020, Québec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) issued a 441-page report on 5 November that concluded the CAD3.3bn (EUR2.1bn) tramway project for Québec City was desirable but should not be authorised.

The province’s Transport Minister François Bonnardel subsequently confirmed he was not going to approve the project in its current form, but would try to improve it; the minister’s announcement was accompanied by a graphic showing a rubber-tyred tram-style vehicle.

BAPE’s report said that fewer than 10% of trips in Québec City were made on public transport and this had reduced by 4.2% from 2011-17, while car trips rose by 12.9%. During the public hearings there were suggestions that 5000 trees would be felled or trimmed to build the project. The provincial agency also suggested the future need for transit was difficult to predict due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Greater Québec City has a population of 800 000 and in last year’s federal election Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised a federal contribution of CAD1.2bn (EUR768m) towards the scheme. Ottawa has also committed CAD1.3bn towards the CAD4.5bn (EUR2.88m) extension of the Montréal Metro Blue line.

Québec Mayor Labeaume dismissed the BAPE evaluation as ‘erroneous, biased, short-sighted and filled with incoherence’, pointing out that plans to expand public transit using buses had earlier been rejected. However, it is the Provincial Government that will determine the next steps. Municipal elections are due in Québec in 2021.

The 22.3km (13.9-mile) tram project was launched in March 2018 to link Charlesbourg to Cap-Rouge, including a 3.5km (2.2-mile) subway under Parliament Hill.