A group of us were at the Gare Centrale again early Thursday and Friday morning handing out leaflets. We caught people arriving on the Deux Montagnes line at 6:30, 7:15, 7:40. 7:58. 8:17. 8:27 am.
We also caught arrivals at Deux Montagnes after 4 pm. The flyer we handed out tells passengers several things about the REM -- the lack of seating, the interruption in service, the hike in taxes it will bring. It also compares the REM with the plan for Deux Montagnes we COULD have had before the AMT was pre-empted by the Caisse: Double-decker wagons with 3000 additional seats at a cost of $1 million. Compared with the REM's mere 200 additional seats at a cost of $7.6 billion. REM cars will be about as big as Metro cars and given the numbers who ride the Deux-Montagnes line during rush hour, people will be packed in like sardines.
In contrast with earlier leafletting events, 2M passengers were eager to get our flyers these past two weeks. Because of recent announcements about closures, they were better informed about what the REM is going to entail. Articles in Metro and 24 Heures have been explaining the fine details. There was a good piece in Thursday's 24Heures, "30000 usagers du train toujours dans le flou."
Grabbing peoples' attention early in the morning is not easy, and many walked past us only to come back a few seconds later when it finally registered on their brains what we were saying. There was a lot of anger at the forced transfer to buses. Many took flyers from us to distribute to their colleagues at work. Several asked for more information.
But there was also fatalism, as if people were resigned to doing what the government tells them to do. One woman told me she was going to be exhausted if she had to go all the way up to Montmorency then try to find a seat on the Orange Line coming south. When we urged people to call their deputies, one woman wondered why, since it is a "fait accompli." A man rushing by shouted "C'est déjà fait!"
This just goes to show we have more work ahead of us. REM can be stopped. It is not too late. After all, "la centrale thermique au gaz naturel du Suroît et la réfection de la centrale nucléaire de Gentilly 2 ont été annulés alors que les BAPE avaient eu lieu, que les décrets étaient signés et que les pièces étaient même commandées." But we have to make contact with actual users. It is a question of knowledge. The more people know about the REM, the more upset they get. The more people who are upset, the better our chances of convincing politicians to call a halt to the project.