UPDATED Aug. 31 with STM’s claims of increased West Island service
The Société de transport de Montréal went all out announcing a new gimmick this week. It’s called “10 minutes max network” and it seeks to reassure transit users (and potential transit users) that buses within this network will arrive in no more than 10 minutes from when you get to a stop. Affected bus lines (there are 32 in all, or 31 if you count the 106 and 506 as one route) will have this graphic added to stop signs.
It comes into effect with schedule changes on Monday morning.
There are, of course, some caveats: It’s only between 6am and 9pm, only Mondays to Fridays (excluding holidays), and for 21 of the 32 routes, it only applies in one direction at a time (6am-2pm in one direction, 2pm-9pm in the other).
- In both directions: 18, 24, 51, 67, 69, 80, 105, 121, 139, 141, 165
- One direction at a time: 32, 33, 44, 45, 48, 49, 55, 64, 90, 97,103, 106-506, 132, 161, 171, 187, 193, 197, 211, 470*
UPDATE: A blogger has created a subway-style map of these routes here.
Even under those rules, I spotted quite a few cases where it didn’t apply, particularly at the edges of those time blocks. A departure might be set for 8:45pm, and the next one after 9pm. I guess “close enough” is good for the STM here.
Despite my criticisms though, looking at the before and after schedules for the affected routes, there are serious efforts at improving service (at least during these time blocks – with a few exceptions it seems very little effort has been made to improve service after 9pm or on weekends).
Most of the routes on the lists are the STM’s most highly trafficked. In many cases, no change in schedule was needed to comply with the “10 minutes max” rule. In others, the headway was already as low as 12-15 minutes, so bringing it down to 10 wasn’t a huge deal.
But changing the headway from 12 minutes to 10 means going from five departures an hour to six.
There is also significant improvement for 7pm-9pm, when many routes which had headways of up to 20 minutes now see the number of departures as much as doubled.
- 24 Sherbrooke: Mid-day weekday departures are now 10 minutes apart instead of up to 20, making this bus a true alternative to the metro. Sunday service is also improved, with afternoon waiting times reduced from 20 minutes in both directions to 11 minutes eastbound and 15 minutes westbound.
- 32 Lacordaire: Improvements from 8am to 2pm southbound and 7pm to 9pm northbound. In both cases, the wait between buses has been reduced from 15 minutes to 10.
- 48 Perras: Westbound, between 7:40am and 1pm, departures that were between 20 and 30 minutes apart are now 10 minutes apart. After 4:30pm, departures are no more than 15 minutes apart. Eastbound, departures were 15 minutes apart between 2pm and 7pm, and are now 10 minutes apart from 2pm to 9pm.
- 49 Maurice-Duplessis: In the late morning and early afternoon, service is doubled, with departures now 10 minutes apart rather than 20. In the evenings, they’re now 20 minutes apart instead of 30.
- 51 Édouard-Montpetit: Westbound from 8am-9:30am, departures go from being 15 minutes apart to less than six (a big help to Concordia students wanting to get to Loyola for morning classes). Eastbound, departures from 5:30pm to 8:30pm go from 20 minutes apart to 10.
- 90 Saint-Jacques: Eastbound, headways of about 20 minutes after 9am become 10 minutes until 2pm, and don’t increase significantly until after 4pm.
- 97 Mont-Royal: Westbound, from 9am to 2pm, headways are reduced from 20 minutes to 10, and from 2pm to 4pm they’re 15 minutes apart. In the mornings, some buses will start from Mount Royal and Fullum (but those east of there will still get service with a wait of no more than 10 minutes).
- 103 Monkland: From 7:30pm to 9pm westbound, headways drop from 20 minutes to 10. There’s also noted improvement in weekend schedules.
- 132 Viau: Northbound, headways drop from 15 minutes to 10 from 7pm to 9pm. Southbound, they drop from 15-17 minutes to 10 from 9am to 2pm.
- 187 René-Lévesque: Westbound from 8am to 2:30pm, buses are now 10 minutes apart instead of 20. Same improvement eastbound from 7pm to 9:30pm.
- 193 Jarry: From 6:30am to 5:30pm westbound, wait time has reduced from 12-19 minutes to 10 or less. On Saturdays, from 10am to 3pm, the waits drop from 15-16 minutes to 8 minutes.
- 197 Rosemont: Westbound, from 9:30am to 5:30pm, buses go from being 17-18 minutes apart to 10 or less.
- 470 Express Pierrefonds: Westbound, headways that were 10-20 minutes during the day are now 10 minutes or less from 6am to 9pm. On Sundays from 1pm to 6pm, they’re now 20 minutes apart instead of 30.*
The media are focusing a lot on complaints from the union about the new service, mainly because a union representative disrupted the elaborate press conference the STM held. The union’s complaint is that this sounds like a guarantee (it’s certainly being presented that way) and if a bus doesn’t show up in 10 minutes for whatever reason, it’s the bus driver that’s going to take the verbal (and possibly physical) abuse from angry transit users.
It’s a good point, and I have sympathy for drivers who suffer such harassment on a daily basis (mostly for reasons that are entirely out of their control), but it’s not so much a complaint against the service improvements as it is against the way the STM has turned them into a gimmick and kind-of guarantee as a PR move.
New “Navette Or”: 260 Anjou
The STM has decided to add an eighth bus route to its seniors’ shuttles. The 260, which has five departures in each direction midday on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, travels the area around the Galleries d’Anjou. The map and schedule are online (PDF).
470 gets earlier weekend start
In addition to the improvements as part of the “10 minutes max” plan, the 470 is also seeing yet another increase in its operating hours. It will now start earlier in both directions on weekends.
Eastbound, the first buses will depart at 4:37am instead of 6:19am on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Westbound, the first departures from Côte-Vertu will be at 5:30am instead of 6:40am. During those early hours, buses will be 30 minutes apart.
515 drops to offseason schedule
Now that the summer festival season is over, the 515 bus to the Old Port sees a dramatic drop in service. Instead of waiting 10 minutes for a bus, they’re now 20 minutes apart, from 6:40/7am to 9:40pm, seven days a week. (Note that service also ends at 9:40pm instead of 1am.)
Train synchronization: Big press for a handful of additions
The STM is making a lot of hay about added service to bus routes serving West Island train stations and how much better that is for West Island transit users. They throw out a bunch of big numbers showing how much bus service there is now, but they don’t provide much for comparison.
I looked at the before-and-after schedules for each mentioned bus route, and the results are not exactly breathtaking. Though the two rush-hour-only trainbus routes do get large increases in service, the rest are only adding a departure or two.
- 200 Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue: Two more departures westbound (6:46am, 8:12am from Fairview, arriving at Beaconsfield station at 7am and 8:29am respectively), one more departure eastbound PM (other buses rescheduled to accomodate between 4pm and 6pm)
- 217 Anse-à-l’Orme: Three departures added eastbound between 6am and 8:30am. Two departures added westbound PM (others rescheduled to accomodate)
- 261 Trainbus Saint-Charles: Departures jump from 5 to 9 southbound AM and northbound PM
- 265 Trainbus Ile Bizard: Departures jump from 4 to 7 eastbound AM (meaning about 20 minutes between departures) and 4 to 9 westbound PM (the latter increasing the service hours to 3:30pm-6:53pm)
- 268 Trainbus Pierrefonds: One extra departure eastbound, arriving at Roxboro station at 7:56am (four minutes before the 8am train). The 8:20am departure is pushed up to 8:07am so it arrives in time for the 8:35am train, but this also means 43 minutes until the next bus. No new departures westbound, except second bus of the day is held back by five minutes so it arrives at Roxboro-Pierrefonds after the 7:13am train.
By my count, it’s a total of 25 new departures across five bus lines, or 2.5 per line per direction. (The STM’s count is apparently 26, so I guess I missed one somewhere.)
What’s more, in many cases other departures are simply rescheduled earlier or later to better meet the train, which means the time between buses is no longer uniform. Take, for example, the 268, whose departures from the western terminus are now at 7am, 7:20, 7:31, 7:50, 8:07, 8:50, 9:20, etc. The time between buses is as little as 11 minutes and as much as 43 minutes in that time span whereas before it was a much more predictable 20-30.
Maybe people won’t mind that too much, but it’s really annoying if you miss that 8:07 bus.
Less peak service on the 80
Mere months after trumpeting the fact that the 80 and 535 would both run during rush hours (instead of the 80 disappearing in favour of the 535), that has quietly been reduced on the schedule. The 80 will still run with the 535 southbound during the morning rush hour, but northbound departures disappear from 7 to 9am and in both directions from about 5pm to about 6:30pm. The 165 southbound also loses departures between 5pm and 6pm weekdays.
Even less service on 183
The 183 Gouin Est, known best for being the bus that has an hour between departures, essentially loses its rush hour. Instead of departures every 30 minutes weekday mornings and afternoons, they’re every hour from 6am to 9pm.
- 55 Saint Laurent: Northern terminus moved from Esplanade/Chabanel to Louvain/St-Laurent. Route is unchanged.
- 80/129/535: The routes have now officially changed so that buses take St. Laurent northbound until Ontario, and then westbound to Jeanne-Mance. No more buses through the new Place des Festivals.
New technology on the 467
The 467 Express Saint-Michel is a testing ground for some new technology the STM is installing. Not only was the route itself the result of some serious research into reducing travel time, but ways are being found to bring them down even further. The city is installing priority traffic lights along St. Michel Blvd., which has already seen the addition of reserved bus lanes.
The STM is also using the 467 as the first bus to test an automated stop announcement service. You can see it in action in the above video. Like the metro does underground, the buses have electronic displays that show what the next stop is, and an audio message is played for the benefit of people who can’t see the display (or whose eyelids may be too heavy to keep open).
New taxi service in Baie d’Urfé
The STM launched a new collective taxi service in Baie d’Urfé this week (for those unfamiliar, collective taxi services are routes with such little traffic they’re served by taxis, but the fares remain the same as a regular bus or metro ride). It’s timed to work with the Baie d’Urfé commuter train station. The big downside is that people must reserve their place on the taxi at least an hour in advance. The big upside is that without a set route, it has stops all over Baie d’Urfé.
*UPDATE (Nov. 1): The Gazette’s Max Harrold gets the STM to admit it screwed up on the 470 schedule, which has the morning rush hour westbound instead of eastbound.
It’ll be interesting to see how this works on the 24; a route where buses are known to regularly not show up.
Their stop announcements are handled almost the worst possible way: LCD is polluted with unreadable, irrelevant text between stops; stop name is displayed more than once; stop is announced more than once. The only worse system I know about is Vancouver’s.
These changes likely won’t make very much difference for rush hours, where in many cases you would see more than one bus running nose to tail on the same route (121 is a great example). However, it will likely improve service in the shoulder periods (between the rush hours, and after 6pm), which may make the service somewhat useful.
However, all of this is mostly in line with Mayor “I hate cars” Tremblay’s process of trying to push all of us onto a bus or a bike, and away from the dreaded automobiles that are killing our children and raping our women (or whatever it is that they do that is so bad). It is disappointing because while increasing the frequency of service is a good step, it fails to address the quality of the service. For a city with hot summer days and high humidity, it is insane that our buses are not equipped with A/C of some sort to keep them cool. It is very hard to ride a bus and end up at work looking good if you have to spend 30 minutes in a sauna to get there.
Very little is done to actually improve the quality of the product, rather, steps are taken to make the “car option” so bad as to make the buses look better. Every time 10 seconds is taken out of a cycle of traffic to allow a bus / taxi priority move, it is hurting the flow of all traffic.
As a side note, a very funny story: At the Angrinon Metro station, there is a large parking area that is used only to about 60% capacity. One of the problem? The city insists on charging $5 a day for parking. When you consider someone commuting for 22 days a month (average), paying $110 for parking and another $70+ for a bus pass, you have to wonder what they are thinking of. Relatively speaking, it makes parking downtown net into a pretty competitive concept. The truly smart money savers crowd the residential streets around the metro station, taking all the parking possible (and often parking illegally) just to try to save the money. The mayor and the city fail to understand how to make a real offering that would attract users. Their actions are either lip service or punishing people into taking public transit.
The 121 (and other lines) “bunch-up” thanks to the vast quantity of people who ride their cars **ALONE**, taking up valuable street space that would be much better used by transit and bicycles.
Air-conditionning in buses in Montréal is not a very smart proposition. Adding a cost of $20,000 to each bus for something that is used for 4 weeks at most is extremely fiscally irresponsible.
Cars are the worst thing that happenned to Humanity after religion. They are an unsustainable mode of transportation that sacrifices far more ressources than the economic advantages derived from the extra-mobility afforded to everyone who uses cars. Having one automobile per worker is an economic nonsense; the main reason why jobs are exported to countries with slave-labour is that the labour costs here have been artificially inflated in order to enable proletarians to acquire the automobile that is indispensable to lead a good life (as opposed to a crappy one if you exclusively rely on the abysmally poor transit system we have).
As soon as the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing neanderthals in the Chamber of Commerce/Conseil du Patronat (the guys who are at the forefront of retrograde thought) will realize that if workers are not compelled to have a car to lead a good life because the transit system is so good, they will be able to shave $12,000 easily from salaries, there will be much political pressure to have good transit. And once then, jobs will come back from the slave countries.
So, basically, you want the people who leave their car at home and endure the horrible bus system all the way to the Angrignon Métro to pay with their hard-earned taxes for the lazy slobs who can’t be bothered to ride the bus? Everyone who does not have a car pays $3000 per year in taxes that go directly to subsidize road transport.
121: Sorry, but it has little to do with traffic (as the Cote Vertu section of the route has syncornized lights and many of the bus stops have custom “cut out” stops for the buses. It has more to do with everyone loading into the first bus that comes, and the second one catches up because of shorter “loading” times (because everyone is on the front bus). Traffic would affect all buses equally, so your point is a non-starter (and wrong).
AC: Actually, air conditioning / ventilation would be used probably from May through to mid to late September, much longer than 4 weeks. Maybe 16 – 18 weeks, possibly more. Again, something that you got wrong. $20,000 over the life of a bus (20 years) is a pretty small price in reality.
“Cars are the worst thing that happenned to Humanity after religion”: I don’t really debate diatribes, except that you really should be blaming caveman Ogg for coming up with the wheel.
$3000 per year in taxes: Between license plates and gas taxes, I know many of us are already paying huge amounts of taxes to continue to use our cars. My motorcyle license plate alone last year was $600, without any fuel. In fact, cars are taxed up the butt to PAY for public transport. Your $70 a month bus pass is not paying for the system, nowhere near. It’s all tax dollars, much of it taxes on fuel, that pays the way. So you score perfectly on the test, you either got it all wrong or are just sadly misinformed. Perhaps you are using similar sources to our Mayor?
The “custom ‘cut out‘ stops” (bus bays) are a big part of the problem. When the bus wants to leave, it has to wait until the automobile traffic deigns to stop and let the bus go (even if the law obligates them do to so), thus delaying the buses more.
Traffic is seldom absolutely consistent amongst a busy street, so unless everyone travels in one single lane (like on Park Avenue nowadays with the construction work going on), some buses will inch ahead while others will plod back. The best cure is pro-active measures like priority lights for late buses that will slow-down the cars that clog the bus’ way.
Buses are depreciated in 18 years — well, in Québec. But $1000 per year per bus is quite expensive; that money would be spent in many better ways, such as more seats in buses, for example.
The culprit here is Nicolas Cugnot who built the first “auto-mobile” in 1771… (Yes, about 240 years ago; it’s not a typo).
That’s because that $600 includes your insurance. Still, a bargain compared to what the private sector would charge you for that service.
Nor should it. The main beneficiaries of public transit are not transit users, but motorists who would be facing hopelessly clogged streets if there was no transit and people would have to take cars to do their business. And another beneficiary is the employers who get their workforce on site thanks to transit.
In every single case of a transit system existing, the reason is not to carry people for themselves, but for others and to clear the roads.
Perhaps you should breathe less gasoline fumes and look at the true figures of car use, the ones that take account of all the externalities. The net result is that road transport in Québec drains a full fifth of the gross domestic product. Google for “Richard Bergeron Économie Automobile” and be enlightened.
I realize that I could say the sky is blue, and you would argue it is green, and it’s a car’s fault.
$30 out of every license plate in Quebec is a “public transit” tax. For every liter of gas, between 1.5 and 3 cents is given to the AMT. So if I drive 20,000kms a year, and use 10l per 100 kms (average consumption for a regular passenger car in the city), I will have purchased 2000 liters and given another $35+ to the kitty. That is just the direct taxes that go straight to the AMT.
As a property owner and tax payer in Montreal, I am not surprised (but disappointed) to see that $389.6 million of the tax dollars goes to the STM, and 44.1 million more goes to the AMT. That means that if I never ride a bus or metro, 10% of my property taxes have gone to provide a subvention to transit users. Combined, and without looking at any other special taxes, Quebec government hand outs, etc, I am supporting your personal Opus card to the tune of about $35-$40 a month.
We won’t even discussion the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on “infrastructure” such as those wonderful bus cutouts, terminus structures, and other city / provincial / federally funded projects that don’t make it directly into the STM’s operating budget.
Montreal is not a city built for widespread public transit. Too many people live in the burbs, and those burbs are often flat, low rise developments, and many of them are off island. Quite simply, the costs to add enough service to change the true flow of traffic in Montreal is beyond the benefits gained from it. You need only to look at the traffic issues of Montreal to realize that they are almost entirely caused not by Montrealers, but rather by the massive influx of people from off island coming to work in Montreal each day.
I rarely see a 1 hour traffic jam to drive down cote des neiges from jean talon to downtown, but I see that sort of jam up almost every day on either the 13, the 15, the champlain bridge, etc. If you blocked each of those access for a single day in Montreal, there would be little or no traffic issues. Improving public transit in Montreal will not have a significant impact on car usage, nor will hobbling the roads because there is no economically feasible way to offer off island ‘burb-ites a valid public transit experience.
So spending like crazy to increase public transit in Montreal doesn’t meet the stated goal. It does however manage to increase property taxes, it does push the provincial government to raise gas taxes, and it still does little or nothing to change the basic issues.
As a side note to Fagstein, sorry for the thread-jack, it’s my last comments on the topic. Thanks :)
I realize that, as a motorist, you do not understand the logic of public transit. Hence the intense campaign in bettering your own education.
Disappointed? So you don’t want any transit. And you believe the fairy tales that transit should pay for itself, whereas the road users already “pay” for your roads.
Hint: more than 10% of your property taxes go to roads. More than 10% of your income tax goes to roads. More than 10% of the sales tax you pay goes to road.
And why are you bitching? I am supporting your gasoline addiction to the tune of about $250 a month with my property, income and sales taxes.
Terminus? Have you seen the non-existent bus terminii the STM has? Have you waited in the rain at Lionel-Groulx, Vendôme, Guy and… heck, I’ll just say the stations that have proper terminii, it’ll be faster: Honoré-Beaugrand, Beaubien, Rosemont, Laurier, Henri-Bourassa, Angrignon…
Yes, all those wonderful tax dollars being spent on concrete so roads can carry more cars; all dollars that are flatly denied to transit users. Yes, yes…
Well, that kind of city planning is obsolete, so the obsolete parts of the city need to be redevelopped into what makes Montréal a success: medium-density mixed use; that means that there will be stores mixed along with the housing, and some light industries too to pepper it up. And the higher density (there is really no justification for single-family houses; any house should house at least three families, preferably on different floors) will be far more conductive to public transit.
Those who won’t like it will be free to move out of the boondocks, but they should be warned that they will not be welcome in the city with their cars.
Well, of course! That’s because those traffic jams are caused by the suburbanites who are forced to use their cars because there is no transit worthy of that name in the ’burbs.
Oh well, that’s the suburbs’ problem. We could completely cut them off, but a good idea would be to have big transit hub served by high-capacity lines (such as commuter trains). After all, we don’t want our virginity to be corrupted by suburban automobiles.
So spending like crazy to increase public transit in Montreal doesn’t meet the stated goal. It does however manage to increase property taxes, it does push the provincial government to raise gas taxes, and it still does little or nothing to change the basic issues.Sure it does: it drives home the point that automobile transit is not a sustainable solution, and alternatives need to be developped, and those will not make life in the ’burbs any easier… Oh well, when you bet on the wrong horse, you have to expect to lose.
AlexH: You sound like the type of troll who bitches incessantly about paying school taxes because s/he has no kids and, therefore, sees no need for schools. I’m a motorist part of the time and transit user the other part and I’m happy to see transit well-funded.
The two baby seats in the back of my car tell a different story. I use public transit occassionally, but I think it is often over funded and under performing. I also think that if the only way to get people to take the bus is to HARM the alternatives, then we are a society are going backwards, moving away from the advances we have collectively made.
However, I would love to know how many public transit users in Montreal would take the bus if they actually have to pay the full price in their monthly pass. Would you take the bus with a $150 a month pass? $200? Collectively we already pay a lot of money for bus and metro service.
As for school taxes, I don’t mind paying them. However, it would be as if the government would mandate that private schools could only teach every other page of the text books, to try to make public schools appear better. Rather than hobbling the schools that excel, should we not be trying to raise the bottom up? If public transit isn’t attractive for the vast majority of road users, isn’t it perhaps better to work on the offering, rather than just making it really hard for road users to do what they want to do? It all sounds a little like something Fidel Castro would come up with.
And you base this on what, exactly? Most studies I’ve seen have shown the opposite, that Montreal has an efficient, cost-effective system.
Fagstien (sorry, the reply wouldn’t let me reply you directly): Montreal will always face the basic issue that there is not enough population density to make public transit truly efficient. You can spot the issues by watching the number of near empty buses wandering around the system outside of peak hours, and by calculating the miles / passenger even at peak times for some of the more distant routes.
As I mentioned before, even if there are massive improvements in the Montreal city system, it won’t make a huge change in either the number of cars coming into the city. Consider: http://spacingmontreal.ca/2010/02/18/montreal-metropolitan-area-more-sprawl-more-transit/ – The significant increases in car trips isn’t happening in the city (that number is already decreasing slightly) but rather all those people in the sprawl areas.
The density in these sprawl areas is so low that it is very costly to provide public transit for these people. If the stated goal is to lower the number of cars coming into Montreal on a daily basis, these are the areas that need addressing. However, it is very expensive and inefficient to try to service these people, either a service ends up providing too many buses for too few people to be convenient, or they offer so little service that people don’t take the transit. You only have to look at the train services off the west end of Montreal Island to understand. One needs only to look at the Rigaud train service to understand: http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100427/mtl_100427/20100427/?hub=MontrealHome
The Montreal system is efficient around the metros, which itself is a very efficient system. However, as soon as things start to expand past those limits, the efficiency drops very quickly, and we see either lots of empty buses or not enough buses. density is the key, which means Montreal’s long held ‘low rise’ mentality doesn’t line up with the desires of efficient public transit. We certainly spend a lot of time and effort encouraging people to move out of the core and into the sprawl, where services cannot be offered properly.
Wow! Only two buses for west island affected by this new schedule.
Really, the 51 is a useful route for Concordia students? I always see it packed from U of M to the Plateau, didn’t eve realize it served another university.
As for the Place des festivals thing, it is too bad that the new square has to so drastically impact accessibility. Those northbound stops along lower Jeanne Mance were hugely popular.
West Island service keeps on sucking with it’s twisty, slow routes that run every ½ hour. If the darn nimbyes there would just drop dead and stop bitching about transit decreasing their house values (because it means there are poor people who can’t afford cars going around), there would be reall incentive to stop those suburbanites from polluting our great city with their smelly cars.
What are we waiting to remerge everything so decisions can be made by people who will not be elected by those nymbies and therefore do what has to be done???
I can’t help but interpret this as “representative democracy is only desirable when they enact policies that I agree with.”
Unless I completely misinterpret your meaning; in which case, by all means, feel free to clarify.
Oh, sorry. Here is my clarification: only us, the city-core dwellers, know what is good for the wicked suburbanites (especially those in the evil west-island).
well, keep in mind that many of them are anglophones, so your platform of forced expulsions would solve that, right?
While I think this is a great idea, I do think that it is a little unrealistic. I’m not part of any union, but would tend to agree with the STM’s union. It does sound like a guarantee, and I do think it will lead to worse relations between the passengers and drivers. (If that’s possible.) I believe that the only guarantee is that next week, traffic will begin to increase as it does every fall, and delays from this new 10 minute schedule will start to appear. Not much you can do when a bus is stopped in traffic.
When the delays do happen, and people do complain watch for the STM to downplay the extent of the problem. The AMT does the same thing. Check my stats page for some interesting numbers on train delays.
I don’t think it’s a gimmick at all. The idea of a frequent service network is something that transit advocates have been pushing for years. The idea is that you can take the bus in a similar way as the metro – without knowing the schedule, and without knowing the area where you are going very well. This makes transit more reliable and it makes it that you can go to more places without being a local expert. It’s also part of an attempt to remove the stigma that only poor people drive the bus (which can be felt in some of the comments here).
That said the next stop displays are kind of important (they should really fix this…) – and so is a readable map of all frequent service. I find their current map not very useful – while it shows their service in a geographically accurate fashion, it’s not something you could put in your pocked like the metro map or tube map. I started making a map that is more compact and more abstract, like the metro map:
One of the most infuriating things with the bus service in Montréal is the wonky intervals.
Sure, some lines have reasonable 10,15,20 & 30 minutes frequencies, so the bus always passes by at the same minute(s) of the hour.
But most of them have wonky 8,12,17,18,23,26 or even 35 minutes intervals, which make consulting a schedule a compulsory annoyance.
And often you get ridiculous things like a bus that runs every 30 minutes until the afternoon rush where the frequency gradually drops to 12 minutes, then goes back to 30 minutes, but with a skewed time.
How would you suggest having five buses an hour if you don’t want them scheduled 12 minutes apart? Or would you prefer four buses an hour so it looks nicer on the schedule?
Of course not, I’d want 6 buses/hour every 10 minutes… :) :) :) :)
I think it matters not whether the bus comes every 12 or 15 minutes. I think it would be better to have a regular schedular that is reliable and can be easily remembered. Some of the stuff they do in Montreal is really ridiculous – for example the 15 runs every 33 minutes during the day … why not make it every half hour? Then you only have to remember two bits of information – that it comes every half hour, and at what minute it passes by.
The resources needed to have one bus more or less is really negligible compared to a simple, well designed and reliable system. And regular all-day fixed interval schedules are a way to make your system well designed. Also, if you really need that one extra bus during rush hour, one could probably use a couple of articulated busses to get through crunch time.
(btw, I finished the map of the frequent service: http://www.cat-bus.com/2010/09/a-map-for-montreals-frequent-service/)
Excellent analysis as usual Fagstein.
For a graphical view of the changes to the 90 and 105 check out my post:
Overall, this is quite a big bump in service levels – a similar thing was done for the metro about 18 months ago.
As for the union complaint. I think the biggest complaint will remain buses that simply don’t show up. The following driver gets all the complaints even if he is on-time!
What is the STM’s standard for on time arrival? How many minutes is the bus allowed to be late/early at a stop and still be considered on-time? For example, if the allowance is 2 minutes early, and 4 minutes late, a 10 minute interval bus could be considered on-time if the interval was 16 minutes!
I hope they fix the problem of buses showing up 2 or three at a time at rush hour as it regularly happens on the 33 route. Mind you I take it at Langelier metro which is close to the tail end but it’s rather aggravating to realize that the next bus won’t be showing up in within the promised 6 mins…
Karine – no-one has ever managed to solve that problem. It is mathematically very difficult to address, because the very nature of x buses leaving a start point at intervals of y has no bearing on what their interval will be when they reach the mid or end point of their run.
See http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18074-why-three-buses-come-at-once-and-how-to-avoid-it.html for more…
Bus bunching is pratically an unsolvable problem, unless you introduce annoying measures like compulsory time points “why does the bus is sitting here for 4 minutes?” or shortening routes “why do we have to transfer here?”.
Tell me about the 33. This bus really needs to show up ever 4-5 minutes during rush hour. Its the STM’s 13th busiest and it only comes every 6 minutes during rush hour. The line at the metro gets so long that when the bus shows up it stays there for 5 minutes before its able to leave. The problem is that 40% of the buses at the Anjou garage operate on the 141 which come every 3 minutes during rush hour and there aren’t enough left over for other routes.
BTW some of those buses on the 141 are empty, what a waste.
I’m glad that service on the 55 is being improved but I still don’t understand why it remains so poor. Most stretches of St-Laurent/St-Urbain are 10+ minutes from a metro station but there are times of day when the 55 only runs every 30 minutes.
Evening service really needs and improvement. I used to take the 80 every day and while I would rarely have to wait more than 10 minutes during the day — often it was just a few minutes between buses — the southbound frequency plummeted to 20 minutes after 9pm. It’s especially bad in the summer, when buses heading downtown are packed beyond capacity because the frequency is so low.
Also, the northbound 80/129/535 is being relocated to St-Laurent? That’s exactly a minor change. It means going to a whole other metro station to catch the bus. It also seems like it could add 5-10 minutes only to the journey time, especially at rush hour when traffic gets backed up. When the traffic is bad, it can take several minutes just go to from Place-des-Arts up the hill to Sherbrooke, around the corner and onto Park. Adding three or four extra blocks to that journey will only make things worse.
To clarify, the 80, 129 and 535 will still stop at the Place des Arts metro station, at the corner of Ontario and Jeanne-Mance.
This is why the STM bought articulated buses: they can run less often and carry the same number of people. And given how the articulateds have such a small number of seats, it’s definitely designed to cram-in as much people as possible in them.
Let’s not be fooled, the articulateds will cause degradation of service.
What is a “Seniors’ Route”?
It’s a minibus that zigzags around a neighbourhood stopping at the retirement homes and grocery stores that runs only during the late morning and early afternoon and only certain days a week. It’s a route specifically targetted toward seniors who want to minimize walking and only need to leave home once or twice a week.
I would like one of those.
AlexH: “Every time 10 seconds is taken out of a cycle of traffic to allow a bus / taxi priority move, it is hurting the flow of all traffic.”
You do realize during rush hour that there are likely far more people on that bus than in the cars that travel through the intersection during a single cycle. Why should we make it easier for fewer people to pass through an intersection? Those priority lights are about moving PEOPLE, not vehicles.
mike: “Wow! Only two buses for west island affected by this new schedule.”
You should have built your communities so they were conducive to frequent transit.
ant6n: “I don’t think it’s a gimmick at all. The idea of a frequent service network is something that transit advocates have been pushing for years. The idea is that you can take the bus in a similar way as the metro – without knowing the schedule, and without knowing the area where you are going very well. This makes transit more reliable and it makes it that you can go to more places without being a local expert.”
Totally, I absolutely agree. This is really how the most effective services operate, and a HUGE step forward for the STM. What would be absolutely fantastic is if they changed the network maps to show which routes were frequent. Right now each route looks exactly the same, which has the potential to cripple the service for many users. Here’s an interesting post from another blog which does a good job discussing the topic: http://www.humantransit.org/2010/08/basics-the-case-for-frequency-mapping.html
If the people are not on the bus, all the priority in the world isn’t going to help. it isn’t as much about improving bus service (because the small advance is killed by one slow moving person getting on board) but rather about degrading the traffic situations for cars until buses are the only option. The changes to the 20/15/720 exchange are following the same logic, the road network effeciency will be degraded until such a point that low quality public transit is better than the hobbled road network.
It isn’t about improving bus service.
“You should have built your communities so they were conducive to frequent transit.”
I love you.
I’m so sick of west islanders who seemingly had NO Idea before they moved that there is a lack of public transit out there constantly whining about it. It’s actually rather well serviced for the demographic and population compared to other similar cities of similar size and distance. Many similar areas do not have any service at all whatsoever, let alone a bus AND a commuter train.
I lived in the West Island and took public transit for 20 years. It wasn’t my choice to live that far from downtown. I didn’t complain, except about adding service where there was clearly a need (as was subsequently shown with the 470).
I’d rather people whine about the lack of public transit than the lack of traffic-free highways.
You have a good point there, Fagstein, at least they’re complaining about transit. However, nothing is going to change until these people realize that the style of development is at the root of the problem.
I’ve heard people complain how “unfair” it is that the Eastern parts of the island are so much better served, without realizing that until the refineries, these places are considerably denser, more urban, and interconnected than the West Island.
Clearly the AMT is missing some opportunities with the commuter train, but I have to agree with wkh–it’s amazing that they are capable of maintaining this level of transit in the first place.
The West Island really isn’t public transit friendly, long distances, low density, etc. It is incredibly expensive and difficult to serve the area well enough to make public transit a real option to those who are driving cars right now.
I think this is very much the key too: It isn’t about making the current transit users 10% happier or whatever, it is about making public transit a viable option for the tens of thousands of people who DON’T use it every day. One linked story showed how AC was not going to happen because a poll of users of public transit said it wasn’t important to them. It misses the point, because the lack of AC may make it harder for someone dressed for business to choose to take public transit, because they will sweat and be uncomfortable. It isn’t about satisfying your existing users, it’s about appealing to the non-users.
I have often thought that it would be very useful to extend the cote vertu subway along Thimens, under the airport area, and to make a terminus somewhere in the Sources / Hymus area or similar. If WI buses only had to do that length of run, service could be very much improved. But for whatever reason, Laval was a much more important situation, as the South Shore is looking equally important.
The quality of the transit service needs to continue to increase to try to pass the level of the “car” option, not by hobbling the road network but by truly improving the bus services.
What is retarded is the way people dress for business.
On a previous job, I had to fix computers that crashed because the circuit breakers were tripping, thanks to women who brought their own space heaters because they were freezing because the air-conditionning was on full-blast so the high-powered lawyers would not sweat in their gorilla suits. And the dress code absolutely forbade women from wearing warmer pants, too.
I had to wear a necktie too, even though it was getting in the way when I was fixing computers. But one day, my tie got caught in a computer monitor who was in the office of the big boss, which promptly crashed down on the floor, taking down with it the proverbial priceless Ming vase. When I showed up at work the next day sans necktie, nobody ever said a peep.
Laval is full of swing votes, whereas the west-island tirelessly ethnically votes for the liberals, hence the Métro extension there. Ethnic voting has it’s costs.
That said, extending the Métro to the ’burbs is terminal retardedness. The high cost of the Métro makes it a losing proposition outside of the central dense city core. What the West-Island needs is, first, increased frequency on the commuter trains (like on the eventual airport shuttle), and big feeder lines run by streetcars. That will cost much less than a whole underground subway line.
In fact, for the price of the Laval extension, there could have been at least 4 streetcar lines providing much better service to Laval than the 3 stations there.
Hobbling the car network is the only solution, as car transit is absolutely unsustainable and it will have to be severely curbed in any case.
When the Waste-Island was laid-out in the 1950’s, it was expected that everybody would get automobiles. And since nobody wants to live on a busy thoroughfare, it was laid-out with windy streets that go nowhere, effectively forcing all north/south traffic along 3 roads: Des Sources, St-Jean & St-Charles. Furthermore, roads were laid cheaply (**DEATH TO TAXES**) and so they cannot reasonably accommodate transit vehicles.
Western suburbs actively fought against transit; witness Westmount that would have had nothing of a Métro station (it would have been located right by the now-closed train station), causing the Vendôme station to be built instead of a station at Sherbrooke & Décarie and snarling connecting buses with extra turns from Sherbrooke that add several hundred thousand dollars in operating costs to the STM. Other suburbs have been less than receptive to transit — it’s not for nothing that the STCUM did not reach beyond Lachine until 1980; if the west island wanted transit, they would have had it.
Lastly, there is the very deeply entrenched perception that transit is for poor people who cannot afford cars, thus making transit undesirable in the west-island because that would be both an admission that there are poor people there AND it would provide a way for poor people to come to the west-island and maybe rob the rich people there.
Have you noticed in some places faded blue STCUM speed-limit signs? They always have been totally bogus (for example, the 209, in order to keep it’s schedule, has to go faster than the posted speed limit on Bord-du-Lac).
When buses first started to run there, people would complain that the buses were shaking their houses. So in order to shut-up the complainers, whenever they complained, the STCUM took their addresses and if they complained repeatedly, they sent a crew put one of those signs in front of the complainer’s house, so when the next complain came, they could reply “it’s impossible, buses don’t go faster than 30 km/h in front of your house; look, there is a speed limit sign!”. (I’ve heard this story from Denis Latour).
“When the Waste-Island was laid-out in the 1950’s, it was expected that everybody would get automobiles.” Not entirely. We moved to DDO in the early 1960s and the Roxboro train station was another important way to get into the city. I, my mom and brother all took the train in, for work and school, for decades, as we were a one-car family.
And, gradually, over the years, you saw the train service deteriorate and dwindle until it had to be taken over by the government (never mind that CN was government back then), who then balked for so long at fixing the line that it took an ultimatum in the form of crumbling trains to get things moving…
The ’burbs along train lines are anomalies; they were the first ’burbs, made possible by the trains, but most ’burbs do not have train service (think of the poor souls in Laprairie, Brossard, Boucherville, Mascouche, Repentigny or Contrecœur).
I’m really pissed off over that BS called the 10-minute wait promise. Yeah right. I live on the 32’s route, except that I’m not in St-Leo (but rather at the other end of the route) and therefore will still be stuck waiting for that bus for 15-20 minutes (or even more) if I miss it. Apparently, if you live in Mercier rather than St-Leonard, you’re not worthy of the 10-minute promise.
That to me is the biggest issue, these routes where this guarantee only applies for half the day. Anyone who goes against the grain during rush hour (taking buses away from downtown and/or metro stations) gets screwed in the morning and again in the evening.
Probably because they know they don’t have enough buses and/or drivers to offer it in both directions. Very bothersome for the sardine can known as the 103. Then again, come winter it’s all moot; there’s no way they can guarantee it.
Actually your “minor changes” aren’t so minor. There will be a lot more buses through Chinatown, somewhat harsh on a neighbourhood where the actual residents are mostly tiny elderly folks.
The 10 minute max is probably the wrong way to be marketing these improvements, because as everyone agrees, it establishes a really unreliable expectation. I haven’t caught an STM bus in Montréal since 2005, but I’ve taken many in different cities here in the UK. The idea of a métro-style high frequency service has been applied in almost every major city. No promises are made about intervals, but bus timetables are now much easier to use because they simply read “05:00 – 07:00 every 15 minutes, 07:00 – 10:00 every 6-7 minutes” etc.
First Group, who run bus systems in many cities here, frequently market the core routes as “Overground”, i.e. just like the Underground: brightly coloured simplified tube-style maps with interchanges and stops, and simple to understand service frequencies rather than huge timetables with row upon row of tiny time points.
Slapping the “Réseau 10 minutes max” logo on all the bus schedules including those that are not part of the “réseau 10 minutes max” was a dumb idea.
It’s like if your local Tim Horton announced 50% off all coffees and then once inside you realise that the special is only offered in other locations.
I’m very pleased about more bus service (though some of these routes need their tramlines back) but what about the wintertime, when it is indeed disagreeable to wait for a late bus?
Poor Alex, stuck in the 1950s.
Not stuck in the 50s, I am stuck in reality. Consider a person who lives in Lasalle, but works in neighboring Brossard. Please explain to me the convoluted method by which this person would take public transit to their 3PM to 11PM job.
Bus to Angrignon metro, then green and orange lines to Bonaventure terminal, then the RTL’s 45 bus or another that takes the Champlain bridge. It takes a while, maybe an hour and a half depending on where exactly your origin and destination are, but it works.
I expect people travelling from one suburb to another will find it much more convenient to take a car than a bus. But those people aren’t the ones clogging up downtown streets.
Downtown isn’t really clogged up, that is the key. There are plenty of cars, yes, but it isn’t clogged up. The real traffic jams aren’t on Rene Levesque (it is only a few minutes at times) but rather on the autoroutes coming into town from off island, the Decarie, Notre Dame, and plenty of other similar main routes.
You only have to look at all of the commercial activity that doesn’t happen in the downtown core. Those people come from somewhere to get there to work, to shop, to whatever, and they have to get back. There are plenty of people who live in Laval, work in St Laurent, live in Repentigny, and work around the Airport, and so on. Public transit that concentrates only on one flow (from out there to downtown in the morning at back the other way at 5) fails to serve so many of the people. I use to live in St Laurent and work near the airport. Tricky route combinations of taking the 64 to the Cote Vertu Metro, to go one stop, to get on the 202, to get off at the circle, to get the 204 to actually get into the airport… on a lucky day it was an hour at rush hour each way – for a car trip that would last 10-15 minutes going and maybe 30 coming back. As you can imagine, as soon as I had access to a car, the bus was forgotten.
More importantly, the more the Mayor moves to limit access to the downtown core, the more they move to close streets, limit access, cut back parking, shrink lanes, and do everything under their power to limit vehicle access to the downtown area, the more they will push business (and thus commuters) into routings that are not easily handled by the current transit system.
AlexH: You just can’t seem to realise that better funded transit = better transit service = more people using it = better for motorists.
On the other hand, let’s fund transit the way you propose = worse service = less people using it = traffic jams like they had in China recently.
Take your pick.
Have you spent any time in China? I have, plenty. The “monster traffic jam” in china has nothing to do with public transit (or even in city transit), it is poorly planned construction on a major road that doesn’t have a good alternate route / detour setup to handle the flow. In fact, China is one of the places with very good public transit, because up until recently, the private ownership of cars was not very common. China continues to invest heavily in high speed trains, buses, subways, monorails, etc. You would do well to take a trip to Shenzhen or Shanghai and check out their subway systems, they put the Montreal Metro to shame in levels of service, quality of product, and level of public use.
You are making a major mistake in “better funded transit = better transit service = more people using it = better for motorists” because you are making a huge jump in logic in assuming that better funded public transit would lead to more people using it. It is very true for the sort of marginal improvements that are being offered here. People are not going to suddenly park their cars and take the bus because there is one more bus per hour on a given route. They are not going to add an hour of transit to their days because buses now have nice voices to tell you what stop is next.
To get the bus, metro, and train network to a level where using public transit to get to work for the vast majority of people driving into Montreal will take huge investments and a huge change in the overall system. The people crowding the roads aren’t the people living in the core of Montreal, it isn’t the people living in reasonable distances of the metro. It’s people who live in the burbs, live off island, and so on. Improvements in the STM system is almost meaningless when it comes to changing the amount of traffic in the city. Moving from 12 minutes per bus to 10 minutes per bus won’t make any significant change in suburbanite’s choices to use cars instead of public transit. You only have to look at highways 13, 15, the champlain bridge, the tunnel, and so on – these people will wait in traffic for an hour or more to get to work rather than take public transit. Faster buses on the 31 line in town won’t change it.
Real change would come with something like significant tolls on incoming highways, and public transit offerings that would allow road users to drop their cars off island and come into the city. It is done only slightly. In places like Deux Montagnes, the parking at the train stations is overflowing, and weak public transit in the area means that they have reached capacity. Doubling available parking and service from that area might make a real change in the way people in that area come to the city.
If you want to fix a problem you have to address the problem, not something else.
I’ll start takeing public transport when we have a train system that compares to the Hong Kong Airport to city centre train: 24 minutes to travel the 34 km distance, trains leave in each direction every 12 minutes….or when we have an efficient tram/bus system like Amsterdams”…until then I’m useing my car!
I don’t understand the new 470 changes… they say that the 10 mins or less applies to one direction at a time (6am-2pm in one direction, 2pm-9pm in the other). But when you look at the schedule, its 10 mins or less only Westbound and all day.
Did they mess that up or am I reading it wrong? I was really hoping for 10 mins or less eastbound so that I could get downtown faster in the mornings.
You’re right. There seems to be a discrepancy between the Planibus schedule (which shows buses every 10 minutes all day in both directions) and the electronic schedules online, which show longer times between buses. I’m not sure which is the correct one.
Baie-d’Urfé Public Taxi
I tried taking the Public Taxi last week in Baie-d’Urfé and realized that the taxi schedule is really not well adjusted to the train schedule. I was in the train from downtown that arrived at BdU station at 13:11. I called ahead of time to the taxi number and they said I would have to wait for the next scheduled time (13:30) to get a taxi. It was raining, so waiting 20 minutes would not have changed anything for me…I was actually faster walking 15 mins to get to where I was going.
The STM should realize that there are people who also take the train DURING the day. Not everyone is a rush-hour commuter! Anyways, adjusting the schedule shouldn’t be that big of a problem, as there are only two or three trains during the day anyways.
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