05/23/2014 09:06 EDT | Updated 07/23/2014 05:59 EDT

West Island trains, Champlain Bridge top priorities for transport officials

Improving public transit for Montreal’s West Island residents is one of the top priorities for Quebec’s new transport minister Robert Poeti.

Poeti met today with officials from the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) for the first time to discuss several of Montreal’s transport issues.

“There's a lot of demand from the municipalities of the West Island. They want more services so that was one of the subjects we discussed at this meeting with Mr. Poeti and we will have eventually other meetings to discuss that subject,” said Nicolas Girard, president of the commuter train agency.

The meeting was scheduled for two hours, but it lasted more than three hours.

“When we talk about collective transportation and the train for the West, it’s a question … How can we give to the citizens of the West Island a better way to come downtown?” Poeti said.

The AMT recently held public consultations on how it plans to improve transit in the West Island.

Officials will present their reports to Poeti in the coming weeks.

Champlain Bridge tops the agenda

Poeti said while improving transit for West Island residents is on his list of priorities, the first issue he will deal with is the new Champlain Bridge.

“I have to give answers for the Champlain Bridge at the end of June to the federal government. That is going to be our first priority,” Poeti said.

The ministry must decide what kind of public transit system to implement on the new span.

Girard and Poeti said they are evaluating the options of light rail transit or rapid bus service.

It seems the AMT favours the train option while the provincial government seems to think buses may be cheaper.

Poeti said all options will be studied.

“I have not excluded any solution — and that includes light rail transit .. When you shop for a car, you ask yourself what your needs are. You ask what your maintenance fees will be and finally, I hope you ask yourself how much it costs.”

A final decision is expected from the transport ministry before the government’s budget is tabled in June.