As part of its promise for vastly increased service for users (and in order to meet government-imposed quotas to get extra cash), the STM has announced sweeping improvements to bus service across the island, as well as better service on the Orange Line of the metro (which will now use renovated MR-73 trains exclusively), all starting next Monday (Sept. 1) as the new schedules are released.
The actual improvements to bus service aren't quite as dramatic as the long press release would make it seem. Part of the reason is that the STM simply doesn't have enough buses to meet up with all the increased service it wants. More are being manufactured, but won't arrive here until next year.
Nevertheless, there are some highlights in the new schedules:
New route: 480 Pointe-Nord-Île-des-Soeurs (plus collective taxi)
The 480 Pointe-Nord Île-des-Soeurs route, which was first announced back in April, finally gets started. It's an express link between downtown and Nuns' Island's new Bell campus. That route will also be paired with a collective taxi service which will run between the campus and Nuns' Island's commercial area during lunchtime.
New "seniors" routes: 252, 253, 254
What do you do when a pilot project fails miserably? Try it again in another place without changing any of the things that were wrong with it, of course. After trying "seniors" routes in NDG and Côte des Neiges, the STM is repeating the experiment in Montreal North, Saint Michel and Rosemont.
Like the previous incarnation, these buses will only run on certain days (and it's not the same days for each bus), during midday, on a confusingly circular route at unreasonably large intervals of between 50 and 80 minutes. The latter two will also use minibuses, which are high-floor buses (it's unclear if they'll have lifts like adapted transit buses do) and tough to get into for older people.
The stops will be identified with the same yellow signs as the previous versions, even though yellow signs also indicate temporary routes (like the shuttle running through Georges-Vanier metro) and tourist routes (like the 515 Old Port bus)
470 adds weekend service
As part of its incremental increases to service to the 470 Express Pierrefonds, a route described (repeatedly) as a "home run" by STM director Marvin Rotrand, the STM has finally added weekend service for the first time. Service will be provided in both directions between 6:30am and 6:30pm, at intervals ranging from 20 minutes (during weekend rush-hour times) and 30 minutes (around noon). That's great, only it took them a year to do it.
103 service intervals to plummet
Service intervals on the 103 Monkland will drop dramatically next week during all hours of service. On weekdays during the day, intervals will be closer to 10-12 minutes than the current 15-20, and during rush hour it will drop below the 6-minutes-or-less threshold.
On Saturdays, morning eastbound service will be at 15 minutes instead of 20. Westbound, intervals will drop from 20 minutes to 15 from 1-4pm, and from 30 minutes to 20 minutes during the evenings.
Sunday's schedule stays mostly the same.
Neighbourhood routes get later evening hours (but only during weekdays)
Following up on a promise to offer late-evening service to certain routes, new schedules for five seven-day routes show less truncated weekday schedules, which will now end closer to the metro's closing time of 1am. Weekend service, however, will remain unaffected and still end as early as previously:
- 29 Rachel (service ends at midnight instead of 11pm)
- 31 Saint-Denis (service ends at 1am instead of 7:30pm)
- 61 Wellington (service ends at 12:30/1am instead of 9:15pm)
- 78 Laurendeau (service ends at 1:30am instead of 11pm)
- 138 Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (service ends at 12/1am instead of 7pm)
Sundays start earlier on the West Island
Anyone who's tried to get around the West Island early on a Sunday morning quickly realized that it's not possible before 9am. For some arcane reason, service starts at 7am on Saturdays, but everyone's expected to just sleep in on Sundays. Only certain routes like the 68 or 211 offer any service before 9am. That changes next week, as the late-rising routes through Fairview start getting up at 7am instead of 9:
- 200 Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue
- 201 Saint-Charles-Saint-Jean
- 202 Dawson
- 203 Carson
- 206 Roger-Pilon
- 207 Jacques-Bizard
- 208 Brunswick
- 217 Anse-à-l'Orme
Seven-day buses with slightly improved service during rush hour:
- 47 Masson
- 95 Bélanger
- 97 Mont-Royal
- 140 Fleury (except for westbound morning rush-hour which goes from a 30-minute interval to a 17-minute one)
(Barely) extended rush hours, up to 1 hour on each side:
- 143 Métrobus Charleroi
- 148 Métrobus Maurice-Duplessis
- 182 Métrobus Sherbrooke
- 184 Métrobus Bout-de-l'Île
- 410 Express Notre-Dame
- 460 Métropolitaine (though mitigated by a slight reduction in frequency)
Existing "all-day" (but not evening or weekend) routes whose service will end at 7pm instead of 6:30pm:
- 159 Métrobus Henri-Bourassa
- 173 Métrobus Victoria (Westbound only)
- 190 Métrobus Lachine (Westbound only)
- 199 Métrobus Lacordaire (plus slightly tighter schedule with more departures during morning rush hour)
- 420 Express Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Service reductions advertised as service increases
Perhaps there was a mixup of some sort. But comparing schedules, it seems there are actually slight reductions in the service on two routes where the STM has advertised slight increases:
- 268 Trainbus Pierrefonds: Two fewer departures eastbound cutting service after 4pm, three fewer departures westbound cutting service before 9:30am. In exchange, two extra departures at the end of rush hour westbound.
- 430 Express Pointe-aux-Trembles: One fewer departure westbound in early morning
UPDATE: The papers have stories on the schedule changes. La Presse, notably, mentions nothing about the 470 weekend service nor the earlier Sundays for routes going through Fairview. I guess they think the West Island doesn't matter.