Spacing Montreal has a post about the “inevitable failure” of the STM’s 515 bus to Old Montreal. It discusses many of the problems I first brought up in June when it first started.
While I agree that the line is wrought with problems (most of them predictable), I still think there should be a bus serving Old Montreal (there’s an argument that Old Montreal is served by two metro stations, but the walk is pretty far, especially for kids – 600m from the Jacques Cartier pier to Champ-de-Mars and over a kilometre from the bottom of McGill St. to Square-Victoria).
Besides, the Spacing article (and the Journal story it’s based on) cite ridership numbers in the summer and fall, which is when people are more likely to walk than take a bus. When the temperature is 30 below and the roads are slippery with ice, bus use is likely to increase in this area.
So I’d like to offer some suggestions to the STM on ways to improve service on this so-far unpopular route:
- Dump the yellow signs. They’re confusing and unnecessary. They give Montreal transit users (not to mention tourists) the idea that they’re temporary or special in some unknown way.
- Drop the route between Berri and Peel. It’s the most underused part of this underused line, and it’s completely unnecessary. This would also have the advantage of simplifying the line, which could then use the usual East/West directions instead of its confusing current circular system.
- Increase service intervals slightly. Putting a bus every 10 minutes does make it more metro-like in that people will just go to a stop and wait for the next bus, but the ridership (even if improved) simply doesn’t warrant it. A 20-minute predictable interval would make more sense.
- Put detailed information at every Old Montreal stop. Schedule, fares, places of interest along the route, points of transfer, etc. should be at every stop for the benefit of tourists. If they can learn about the system as they wait for the bus, they’re more likely to take it.
- Improve traffic flow. Certain parts of the route (like near St. Laurent and Notre Dame) are always clogged, slowing service to a crawl. New ways should be considered to improve traffic in the area, including banning all car traffic on De la Commune during the summer if necessary.
Did I miss anything? Should the route be saved?