• Stephanie O’Hanley

Public transportation can be difficult for Hudson and St. Lazare youth - and anyone without a car


PHOTO BY STEPHANIE O'HANLEY

Students heading to and from John Abbott College take the Number 7 bus, which travels between John Abbott and the Vaudreuil train station.

It came up during a May 12 meeting discussing Hudson’s strategic plan but is a lack of transportation making life difficult for CEGEP and university age youth and leading them to leave places like Hudson and St. Lazare?

“We’re dealing with a crisis in our church,” said Hudson Community Baptist Church Minister Gary Karamanoukian from ‘up the street’ in St. Lazare, during the meeting’s question period. “All our youth college and university students have to move out of town because of the commute and I don’t know if this has been discussed before and I don’t want to ruffle some feathers ...but has there been any talk to maybe have the train do more transportation from Hudson to town?”

Karamanoukian, who became pastor at the church six months ago, said church members hail from Hudson, St. Lazare, Rigaud, the West Island and elsewhere. He said members told him about a problem facing its College and Career ministry, which is for young people 18 and over. “The kids come and none of them stay because they have to go find jobs in the city and obviously if you’re commuting an hour in the city plus traffic just to get a job in the city, you get a place in the city.”

At the meeting Hudson Councillor Natalie Best told Karamanoukian, “We’d like more trains but there’s a significant cost to that.” Best told Your Local Journal she doesn’t think a discussion of having more trains is on the table, “because from what they’re saying there’s such infrequent use of the trains.” She noted CIT La Presqu’Île buses travel from Hudson to the Vaudreuil train station.

Best, who represents Hudson with the CIT La Presqu’Île, is new to the portfolio. “I’m not going to say I’ve studied anything. All I can say is I have my own teenagers and they have their friends and there’s very limited transportation. And it’s not just teenagers; anybody should be able to get back and forth to Hudson. In our summer season, it’s a tourist destination. It doesn’t mean that everybody has a car to come here. We can look at our local tourism. We have people who could be coming from downtown but sadly there is no way. They can get to Vaudreuil but they can’t get any farther than Vaudreuil.”

“Right now, every morning, we have I think 15 departures towards Côte Vertu, we have departures going to John Abbott College (and) Gérald-Godin College,” said Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon, who is president of the CIT La Presqu’Île. “During the week I don’t think that’s a problem. On weekends it’s always a matter of money. If the town decides to have more buses, they pay for it. We can have 22 buses if you want.”

A woman from Hudson Community Baptist Church who asked that her name not be used, said in 30 years of attendance, she’s seen waves of youth grow up and eventually leave. Many spend the school year at “colleges and universities all over North America” and come back for the summer to live with their parents and work in the area. But after they graduate “it’s wherever they find their jobs.”

A long-time Hudson resident remembers having to drive her son around. Saying he was, “fed up with the commute,” her son left Hudson during university and is now married and settled in Montreal. The commute is easier for some students now, she said. “For John Abbott from Hudson, it really shouldn’t be a problem anymore… as soon as they want to go farther like to Vanier, McGill, or Concordia, then it’s terrible the transportation from here. You can count on two hours each way.”

“It’s definitely very difficult if you don’t have a car,” said Jeremy Harbec, a St. Lazare resident who attends Dawson and works in Hudson. Harbec said last year he lost his driver’s licence between August and November and had to rely on public transportation.

“I had to wake up earlier,” Harbec said. “I had two classes at Dawson and I’d be leaving the house at 6:30 in the morning and be home only at 7 (p.m.).” When his bus didn’t arrive at the Vaudreuil train station in time for him to get the 6:55 a.m. train, he’d wait 15 minutes outside in chilly weather for the next one. “I’d see the train leave and I’d have to stand in the cold waiting because there’s nowhere, not even an inside (shelter) at Vaudreuil that I could wait in.”

He said if his classes finished in the morning he’d have to wait till the afternoon rush hour to catch a bus home.

On weekends when his parents couldn’t drive him since there were no buses available, Harbec said he got to work by biking an hour from St. Lazare to Hudson. “It definitely (took) a big chunk out of my day.”

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