515 colour plan only adds confusion

As the city does work on Metcalfe St. that forces the 515 bus into a detour at its western terminus, the STM decided that they’d take another crack at solving the confusion problem that hits people (locals and tourists alike) when they want to take this bus: because it’s a circular route, there’s no East, no West, and no terminus. Both directions will bring you where you want to go eventually.

The solution? Colours!

Blue 515 stop

Yellow 515 stop

Isn’t it obvious? The blue sign is for the bus that takes the clockwide route, toward Berri and then down to Old Montreal. The yellow sign is for the counter-clockwise route that goes through Old Montreal and then up to Berri. This is consistent with the schedules which have a yellow route and a blue route on them, unless they’re copied in black and white, in which case they only have one direction visible.

So now not only has the STM invented a new colour for the 515 (recycled from a failed experiment), they’ve invented another one too! A light blue that’s just different enough from the standard dark blue to be both confusingly similar and confusingly different.

Of course, this won’t solve the confusion inherent in the route’s design, and will just create more. This is the first time the STM is using colours on stop signs to indicate direction, and it’s a break from the standard. If transit users need anything, it’s a standard framework from which to understand how things run. This idea laughs in the face of that.

The STM should do as I suggested and drop the part of the route between Berri and Peel, which is redundant to not one but two metro lines (and the 150 and 15 buses) and therefore the least-used part of a little-used line. Then they can have proper East/West designations and the confusion will be gone.

No parking on Peel

Of course, what’s really going to piss people off is that in order to fit these two stops, the city had to remove 10 parking spaces along Peel (not that the bright red bags with no parking signs on them stopped drivers from parking there anyway, as you can see).

15 thoughts on “515 colour plan only adds confusion

  1. Marc

    Why can’t they run the 515 as a direct shuttle between Dominion Square and the Old Port instead of this loop thing? I took the 515 once last summer and the driver told us he was happy to be our personal chauffeur tonight! I feel bad for those who are assigned to drive the 515 – must get real lonely.

  2. Louis-Philippe

    I also experienced one night a driver that didn’t bother stopping at the bus stop, so sure that nobody was using this line (and this stop / René-Lévesque & Beaver Hall). Too bad that the bus was nearly empty and that I had been waiting for 20 minutes, he drove past me in a breeze.

  3. ladyjaye

    The STM oughta use the different sign color idea for the 211 stops at the Dorval circle. It’s pretty easy to hop on the 211 in the wrong direction (especially if wanting to head toward the West Island; it’d suck to accidentally make a detour to Atwater instead of heading west)…

  4. Maria Gatti

    Is this where Montréal is thinking of putting the first tramline?

    I’m a strong tram advocate, having seen how wonderful they are in Europe, but think the priority is trams along Parc and Côte-des-Neiges to make the commute and other traffic faster and alleviate the pressure on the orange line, overburdened since the expansion to Laval.

    I don’t see enough traffic along the 515 route to warrant a tram, unless there is a lot of high-density housing planned in the Old Port and Griffintown area.

  5. James Lawlor

    What is so hard about having the 515 for one direction and then the 516 (for example) for the other? I’ve taken the 515 a few times having the same number for both directions is very confusing – especially at Berri.

    Going from Peel to Berri (or the other way) is a waste of time. There are so many other possibilities.

    Another idea: 515A & 515B. There should not be a technical limitation to doing this. They can already add an X to the route number for limited service routes (ex: 213X)

    The same idea should be applied to other circular routes like the 201.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The problem is that it then seems like two separate routes, instead of one route in two directions.

      Plus it doesn’t solve the initial problem of not knowing which bus to take to get from Point A to Point B, since both directions will eventually take you from A to B.

      I think the solution to the STM’s circular routes is not to have them in the first place.

      1. David Pinto

        Steve, you said:
        The problem is that it then seems like two separate routes, instead of one route in two directions.
        Steve, I think that things have changed since you wrote that comment.
        A few days ago, I took the 515 at Metcalfe and Ste. Catherine. It headed south on Metcalfe, then hung a right on de la Gauchetiere and then a left on Peel and kept going to the Old Port area, which was my destination.
        Earlier today, around 2 p.m. I picked up what I thought was the same bus at the same stop, only to find that the guy started barrrelling east on Rene Levesque. When I recovered from my shock and asked why he wasn’t going south to the Old Port, he explained that his route went from Dominion Square to UQAM.
        So I ended up going about two miles out of my way, and, on top of that, had to walk from Rene Levesque south to the port, and then walk another mile or so to get to where I wanted to go.
        In addition, Steve, you said: both directions will eventually take you from A to B.
        Yes, but what about people who do not want to get from A to B, but rather want to get from A to some intermediate destination?
        Bottom line: The STM has proved once again that it is a thoroughly incompetent organization by creating two entirely separate bus lines, with two entirely separate routes, starting at the same point, and having the same route number.

  6. Alex T.

    The signs at Dorval clear indicate “Vers Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue” and “Vers Centre-Ville”. No need for special indications. Although the buses themselves need a destination sign nomenclature like Toronto, so instead of 211 Bord du Lac it could be:

    211 Bord du Lac
    vers Lionel-Groulx


    211 Bord du Lac
    vers Ste-Anne

  7. Caroline

    I really don’t get how this escalated to be such a problem??!? I mean all they have to do is write on the sign ”horloge” and ”anti-horloge” or whatever, and then people could decide to use their brain a tiny bit and lower their eyes to the handily provided map that comes with the schedules. Voilà problem solved

  8. Marc

    Was out & about downtown last night. Saw several 515’s – not a soul but the driver on any of them. Ouch.

  9. meleans

    I think that the colours do not necessarily solve the problem. Some people may be colour blind, maybe they don’t see black and white, but some colours may get mixed up depending on which cone is missing in their eyes. It’s possible blue and orange get mixed up, or whichever other colours may be used to “solve the problem.” Think about that one!

  10. TransitQuebec

    STM should look how a “tourist” line should be done, it’s in Quebec City, Réseau de Transport de la Capitale (RTC) route number 400. Route 400 was instored in june 2008 for the 400th anniversary of the city. They were excepting 50 000 riders for the summer, finally, 700 000 riders have ride the 400 (ok, July 3 fireworks and McCartney helps) at the end of the year. How this line has get popular. Easy, first, it’s was desserving major activities. Second, lot of free parking to encourage people to take transit (this cannot be applied to STM 515) and third … attractive fares, 2$ for the whole day (valid only on the 400), that’s cheap and efficient transit, thanks to a generous sponsor that gave it’s name to Route 400 (four buses were wrap for the insurance compagny).

    Route 400 is back in 2009 with a new sponsor, cost has rise to 3$ but it still the cheapest and best way to move around downtown Quebec City !.

    So what STM should do

    1- Find ONE sponsor for his 515
    2- Wrap some buses for exclusive use on 515 (no 16-xxx,17-xxx,18-xxx please !)
    3- Attractive fares on the 515, since 515 is way shorter then RTC 400, it should be 2,50$ for the whole day (only 515), half off for 6 to 12 years old, free under 5. Stardard fares and transfers also apply

    My 2 cents

  11. Pingback: Why Critics of the 515 Bus Hurt More than Help | NEUMONTRÉAL

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