STM takes down its totem pole

A new bus stop sign design was shown off with a new shelter design

Last fall, the STM showed off – with great fanfare – a prototype for a brand new bus stop shelter, which it installed on René-Lévesque Blvd. near Jeanne-Mance St. Installed along with it, a few feet away, was a prototype for a new bus stop sign pole, as seen above in this photo I took last week.

Cool, I thought, but as hip as it looked, it also meant losing a lot of information, such as what metro/train stops a bus will go to, whether it’s a rush-hour-only bus or express bus or night bus, and the bus stop code. All this information was moved to a panel lower down that has schedules and other info.

More importantly, I thought, it’s going to be more complicated to add routes to this totem pole, and you can’t indicate detours or disruptions in service like you can by slipping one of those temporary bus stop covers over the traditional signs.

With the new night bus network taking effect on Monday, adding four new routes to this stop (and the deletion of this leg of the 515 bus, which also took effect Monday), I passed by on Sunday to see if they had updated the totem pole.

The STM has replaced its prototype totem pole stop sign with a regular one

As it turns out, they’ve taken it down and replaced it with a regular bus stop sign.

On the shelter itself, there is also a list of bus routes that stop there. I remarked that it seemed limited to nine routes (the exact number that stopped there at the time). Now it will need to fit 12.

A list of stops on the shelter remains unupdated

So far that sign (and a similar one on the inside) remains unchanged, which could lead to some user confusion. (Then again, you can’t really read it at night, so maybe it doesn’t matter that the night buses aren’t listed there.)

Hey, it’s a pilot project. Sometimes these things fail. I could point out that I saw these problems the first day I saw this new design, but instead I’ll just hope the STM has learned its lesson.

UPDATE (July 5): Andy Riga talked to the STM, which downplayed the significance of the totem pole and said it was not part of the new bus shelter design pilot project. “It was a suggestion of the designer to put an element of clientele info,” Marianne Rouette told Riga. “So, as it was not intended to be permanent, we came back to the bus stop model we currently use.”

11 thoughts on “STM takes down its totem pole

  1. Marc

    The regular signs are so much better and more than do the job. They should be focusing their efforts into correcting the big problem of insufficient green & orange line service on Friday & Saturday evenings; because y’know, there’s nothing to do in Mtl on those nights. The STM doesn’t have to be in the chic structure design business.

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  2. ProchaineStation

    The bus stop flag may be a fail, but the bus stop shelters are being installed it seems. I’ve seen 2 of them already (Other than Langelier Metro and this one)

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  3. jimjim

    The STM was stagnant in terms of service for the longest time. Now, they have set lofty goals for better service and info. The mere fact that they are trying new thinks (Totem Pole, info on GPS buses..among other things) is positive for the future of public transit. I am glad they took down that totem pole…but kudos for trying something bold

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  4. AJ Kandy

    Interesting design, wish I had had the chance to see it in the wild. I can see how it kowtows much more to aesthetic principles rather than usability, but the idea of modular signage with higher visibility / readability is a good one. Reading the recent book Helvetica and the New York Subway System, it’s clear that it’s always a process of evolution; the iconic NYC white-lettered, black-panelled, coloured roundel designs we know today only really took their shape as late as 1980, and even today are still morphing through rounds of electronic signage.

    In the case of the bus shelter design, I rather wish we would take a cue from the Germans; they’ve had bus shelters with day/night visible electronic signs with integrated ticket vending machines for decades.

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  5. Darren

    On the topic of the metro, has anyone else noticed that subway routes do not seem to be available on Google Maps anymore? When I try to get directions, it exclusively uses bus routes now.

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    1. Fagstein Post author

      has anyone else noticed that subway routes do not seem to be available on Google Maps anymore?

      Yes. My guess is something went wrong with the latest schedule update, and Google Maps doesn’t have (or doesn’t believe it has) data on metro departures.

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  6. Gerard Belgrave

    Agree w. AJ KAndy & William – I really wish the STM would take cues from other cities that have shown progress in public transit doesn’t have to come after a period of trying to reinvent the wheel.
    (e.g did we really need an extended pilot project for the articulated buses before they were implemented? Other cities with less of a grid layout have been using them for ages! That money may have been better spent replacing/updating some of the shelters that are in terrible shape across the city; improving the lighting/signage on the not-so-old Nova buses etc.)
    Regarding the temporary bus stop covers: there’s another part of the system that sorely needs an update. Often-illegible chicken-scratch writing under the route number does nothing to actually inform transit users, it only frustrates…

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  7. Steve Hatton

    I passed by today and noticed that the list of buses on the shelter, which was unupdated at first, now has finally been updated. It seems that to make room for the new night buses they simply shrunk the size of the squares in the rectangle.

    By the way, the factual error identifying the 535 as an Express instead of an R-Bus also still remains.

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