Crunching the numbers in the STM’s budget

A week ago, the STM hiked its fares yet again, making it more expensive to take public transit in Montreal. The hikes represent about a 50% increase over a decade, well above the rate of inflation.

Politicians, social activists and regular transit users complained, as they do every year, that this is unacceptable, making it harder for those who don’t have money to get to and from work. The STM and its defenders point to the fact that public transit in Montreal is still much cheaper than Toronto and other comparable cities. The other side comes back with the argument that income and costs of living are lower in Montreal, so you can’t compare cities like that.

A few weeks ago, I started wondering whether the STM’s rate increases were truly reasonable, so I started going through its budgets and plugging numbers into a spreadsheet. I also got some numbers from Statistics Canada, such as the consumer price index in Montreal, the population of the city, the median family income.

The result is a story published in Thursday’s Gazette that tries to give a quantitative picture of the situation. The headline is that the increase in fares, at least for the years 2005-2013 (we don’t have figures for 2014 yet), corresponds to an increase in service in both métro and bus service, all going up about 30% over that period.

But is that the proper way to measure whether it’s reasonable? The increased service came with an increase in the number of users, which means more fare revenues. Should that be taken into account? What about our ability to pay?

With the help of the Gazette’s data guru Roberto Rocha, we put together an interactive chart with the story that allows you to make comparisons for yourself of how things have changed since 2005. Fare price versus total trips. Total salaries and benefits vs. total bus service. Revenue per trip versus total passes sold. Total revenue versus population.

But even that’s only a subset of the data analysis that can be done. So I invite you to do your own: Download this spreadsheet and compare numbers to write your own story.

STM fares in context (.xls, 42kb)

The figures don’t all look good for the STM. Salaries and benefits are going up higher than the amount of work done to justify them. And the amount of subsidies from the Quebec government has gone up more than 200%.

But before you blame the unions or some other invented bogeyman, consider that the cost per hour worked at the STM went gone up about the same as the median family income in Montreal.

Missing numbers

There were some comparisons I wanted to make that I couldn’t. Reading the comments below the Gazette piece, people point to executive salaries. I wanted to include that, but it’s hard to quantify because of the changes in executive pay. For example, I could put in the salary for the director-general of the STM. But that salary went down significantly when Carl Desrosiers took over the position, and in the latest numbers were still lower than his predecessor (though not much).

Another is the price of oil. Including its value could easily give the impression that the fare hikes are more than reasonable. But the price of crude has plummeted in recent months, which would not be reflected on these charts because they end in 2013. So I asked Jeanine Lee, our graphic artist, to take it out of one of the charts we were using.

And there are numbers that can’t be easily calculated, like the number of overall users. Or numbers that are subjective, like customer satisfaction.

What metrics would you use to judge the STM’s performance? And what do those numbers show?

52 thoughts on “Crunching the numbers in the STM’s budget

  1. Dilbert

    STM’s issues mostly relate to how it’s managed and it’s basic operating goals. It’s a legacy that goes all the way back to long before they integrated the West Island Grey Line stuff… and continues to this very day.

    STM’s problems can be explained simply by two things: The metro doesn’t go far enough, and things like the debacle of the 105 line tell you all that is wrong. There is no reason to have so many resources serving so many people so poorly.

    Forget the blue line extension. Waste of money to marginally improve service to some people who are already reasonably well served. Worry about extending the orange line from cote vertu out to the airport area, interchanging with a purpose built train line that follows highway 13 all the way to it’s finish. Worry about creating a Metro extension through the new Champlain bridge so that stations could be set on the other side of the bridge, significantly changing traffic patterns. Get the Green line from Angrinon extended out at least into Lachine or even to the airport.

    Drive actual paying customers into the metro system, increase train frequency, and make it work. People are not going to drive through traffic to get on island and then park at a metro station (most of which don’t have any parking anyway) to take another 30-45 minute ride into town that they could have done from their car in 15 minutes. You have to bring the service to them and make it a valid option.

    Without a change in the mentality and the customer base, the costs will continue to increase and the number of travellers will stagnate. Every time the price goes up, a car starts to look more attractive.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Forget the blue line extension. Waste of money to marginally improve service to some people who are already reasonably well served. Worry about extending the orange line from cote vertu out to the airport area,

      You think extending the metro through the St-Laurent industrial park and under the runways of Trudeau airport is a better idea than building it through St-Léonard and Anjou where people live?

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        “where people live” isn’t a very good measure here for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, because those people actually have to go places. So just running the metro under their homes only solves half the issue at best. The problems relate to both where people go, and where the people come from.

        By their own numbers, the blue line extension would on average save a few minutes per user. The people in the area of the planned extension are actually already quite well served with combinations of direct bus routes, express buses, and the like.

        “St-Laurent industrial park and under the runways of Trudeau airport ”

        First off, I think you need to visit St Laurent. Most of the area where the metro would pass under (assuming it travels along about the level of Thimins blvd) is residential and DESTINATION locations. Extending from Cote Vertu just to an area around Thimens and highway 40 would significantly shorten the time for West Island travellers to reach the subway, would cut traffic on the congested Cote Vertu, and would save those travellers significantly more than a few minutes. Getting from there to a space around Sources, near the end of the airport runway could be a significant game changer when it comes to public transit in the west island, as well as the incentive many need to stop driving their cars through the insane traffic to get downtown.

        You see, tens if not hundreds of thousands of people a day travel to and from the West Island for work. Huge traffic jams happen in and around St Laurent as traffic tries to get past those zones, and the Cote Vertu metro station is one of the busiest stations as a result. Having a station at highway 40 / 13 with appropriate levels of parking could make a significant impact on people driving in to work, who may choose the subway instead of taking the car. It would also allow the Laval bus company to bring people more directly into the Montreal transit system without having to traverse too many surface streets.

        More and more, I realize that your answer (for this and for the CRTC) show that you are unwilling to consider anything radical. Everything must be fine tuning within the current framework, rerouting a bus here or amending a broadcast license there. Step back and think a little more, and understand that the systems in place are often the CAUSE of the problem, and not the solution.

        If the city of Montreal’s goal is to get people to not bring their cars to the city core, and their goal is to get more people using public transit, then the STM, AMT, and other transit companies that serve and bring people to Montreal need to have the same goals – and they need to act on them.

        It’s nice to open train lines, but without sufficient parking and without sufficient service levels (number of seats and frequency) those things are limited. If you want to reach the goal of encouraging people not to drive, then you have to make the alternative better.

        Making service slightly better for those already taking the train (by building the blue line extension) doesn’t do much to meet the goals. Those are people who already take the bus and metro to get to the city core. For most people, the blue line extension would send them in the wrong direction, and push them onto the already over crowded orange line in the end. Their current express buses to the green line is almost as good a solution. It actually shows that it might be significantly better to build a new north south route in the east to connect with the green line, as their express buses already do. Run a line more or less straight from Viau station to Cegep Marie Victorain with a number of stops along the way, and you serve the same people better – or do the same running along the edge of highway 25… and make it a project that goes from a station on the Laval side (with lots of parking and bus interchange) to the South Shore (again with bus interchange and lots of parking). It’s amazing what could happens if you start to offer public transit to the people who can’t take it now.

        Can you explain the STM’s current goals? I can’t, except for self perpetuation and high salaries for disconnected execs.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          “where people live” isn’t a very good measure here for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, because those people actually have to go places. So just running the metro under their homes only solves half the issue at best. The problems relate to both where people go, and where the people come from.

          Right, but running a metro tunnel under an industrial area means either you have stations that go unused or you don’t have stations at all. A metro to the airport would cost about $15 billion by my count. An express train would serve the same purpose for much, much less than that.

          On the eastern side, meanwhile, the population is densely packed. The bus along Pie-IX Blvd., for example, is among the most popular in the entire network. An extended blue line would take pressure off that bus as well as the eastern green line and other bus routes in the northeast of the island.

          By their own numbers, the blue line extension would on average save a few minutes per user.

          When your commute is 45 minutes long, saving five minutes isn’t nothing. And the time savings will be more during rush hour when there’s more traffic. It also means being able to take buses out of the area and use them elsewhere. It means less wait time, and waiting more indoors where it’s warm.

          Any argument made against extending the blue line eastward can be made against extending the metro anywhere.

          Most of the area where the metro would pass under (assuming it travels along about the level of Thimins blvd) is residential and DESTINATION locations.

          The distance from Côte-Vertu to the airport terminal is about 8 kilometres, and only two of those would be under residential areas. Thimens Blvd. west of Cavendish is an industrial area, as is Côte-Vertu Blvd. west of Highway 40. Frankly it would make a lot more sense to extend the green line from Angrignon through Lachine, where people live. But surface transit still makes the most sense.

          Extending from Cote Vertu just to an area around Thimens and highway 40 would significantly shorten the time for West Island travellers to reach the subway

          Maybe. A better idea would be extending it to the Bois-Franc train station for easier intermodal transfers. Extending the metro to the industrial park would shorten the travel time of the 470 bus, assuming you found somewhere to build a new bus terminal. But it would only be by a few minutes, and the added travel time by metro would mitigate that. I’m not sure what makes that so much of a better option than extending the blue line east.

          You see, tens if not hundreds of thousands of people a day travel to and from the West Island for work.

          The West Island has a population of about 225,000, so I’m guessing it’s not “hundreds of thousands” who travel downtown every day. But sure, the West Island would be happy with a metro extension there. All you have to do is convince them to pay up $67,000 each.

          It would also allow the Laval bus company to bring people more directly into the Montreal transit system without having to traverse too many surface streets.

          Since the Laval métro stations opened, a grand total of three STL routes still serve Côte-Vertu.

          More and more, I realize that your answer (for this and for the CRTC) show that you are unwilling to consider anything radical.

          I’m skeptical of 11-figure boondoggles and building a metro line under places no one lives.

          Can you explain the STM’s current goals? I can’t, except for self perpetuation and high salaries for disconnected execs.

          The STM’s current goal is to transport people by the most efficient way possible. Self-perpetuation is a key part of that, since a disbanded STM would have a hard time meeting that goal.

          Reply
          1. Dilbert

            “Right, but running a metro tunnel under an industrial area means either”

            Right, except that (a) it’s not an industrial area. Go look at a map… it’s 100% residential until about 3 blocks from highway 40, and one of those places would be Place Vertu… where (shockingly) people go. Everywhere else along there is residential (and building up more on a regular basis, it’s called “Bois Franc” if you aren’t familiar with it. God have a look along Thimens Blvd… residential one side, schools and arena the other. Possibly the perfect place for a metro to run.

            “Since the Laval métro stations opened, a grand total of three STL routes still serve Côte-Vertu.”

            That is correct. However, if the trajet to a new metro was faster straight down the 13, there is a very good possiblity that more Laval route could come down that side as well. Again, get out a map of Laval and you will realize that going from Ste Dorothee and western Laval to the current Laval metro stations is pretty much all surface streets… a long run. Most people in those areas won’t take the bus (too long) and drive instead.

            The West Island has a population of about 225,000, so I’m guessing it’s not “hundreds of thousands” who travel downtown every day

            To calculate West Island you cannot just count those who live on island. Western Laval and the places off island to the west of Montreal are all potential users of a subway system that extends beyond the traffic jam points of highways 40, 13, and 20. For now they have to drive through traffic (and many surface streets) to get to a metro station, and then they get to face the fun of their being forced to street park. Having parking enough to enable people to CHOOSE to take the subway, and making it accessible at a point where it’s a better choice than driving is key to getting them onto public transit and away from their cars.

            “The STM’s current goal is to transport people by the most efficient way possible.”

            The problem is diminishing returns if you are trying to improve efficiency for people who are already quite well served. Spending billions to save a small subset of users a few minutes each way doesn’t seem to make much sense.

            “Self-perpetuation is a key part of that, since a disbanded STM would have a hard time meeting that goal.”

            Yes, but it perhaps might allow for a new organization to be created that would have a clear mandate.

            Why isn’t the mandate “work with the city, the AMT, and other transit providers to offer a service that encourages people to park their cars and switch?”. Why instead is it “save these people in St Michel 6 minutes each way in the morning?

            I really suggest that your career after the Gazette should be writing press releases for the STM or the CRTC. You are very good at making deck chair arranging sound much better than watching for icebergs.

            Reply
            1. turlut

              For the metro, Côte-Vertu is as close as is never gonna get to the West-Island. Forget it, it’s never gonna happen, never.

              And people in suburbia will never take transit, wathever you do for them. They just want to drive around in the largest 4×4 SUV they can find, especially down to St. Catherine st where everybody can see them!

              No need to waste another 15 billions to find out heavy transit in suburbia will fail – we know already! The metro is already close to empty at Côte-Vertu, what it would be at Thimens/Beaulac???

              This is the craziest thing i heard in a while! I hope you’re not working for the MTQ or STM!

              Reply
              1. Fagstein Post author

                And people in suburbia will never take transit, wathever you do for them.

                That’s obviously not true. The 211/411, 68/468 and 470 bus routes are highly successful.

              2. Dilbert

                You can join Steve in remedial map reading, with a side course of “where do those people at Cote Vertu meto ceom from, anyway”? Cote Vertu is a very busy station, limited in some ways because it is in the middle of town, instead of on the edge. Perhaps you can spend some time and see how many people already use it.

                Then you can look at all the people who work in western St laurent, and how a couple of extra stops (which would move the bus routes, naturally) would shorten their transit time potential by 15 to 20 minutes each day. You could see how it would change things for people from the West Island, from Laval, and so on. You could go look and see how it might help to change the traffic patterns in St Laurent, on highway 40, and even on Decarie.

                The West Island buses run pretty full. The trains, when people can get to them run pretty full. The roads are clogged with cars. Clearly, this is not a place that public transit has any hope, right?

                Wow.

              3. Fagstein Post author

                Then you can look at all the people who work in western St laurent

                How many is that? Not enough to keep the bus routes serving western St-Laurent very busy.

                a couple of extra stops (which would move the bus routes, naturally) would shorten their transit time potential by 15 to 20 minutes each day.

                It takes the 470 bus 20 minutes to get from Côte-Vertu to Fairview and vice-versa, assuming no traffic on Highway 40. So unless “a couple of extra stops” brings the metro to Fairview, that seems unlikely.

                The West Island buses run pretty full. The trains, when people can get to them run pretty full. The roads are clogged with cars. Clearly, this is not a place that public transit has any hope, right?

                I don’t think anyone is making that argument. The success of bus routes like the 470, and of the Deux-Montagnes train line, attest to how popular public transit is in the West Island. But the question is whether heavy underground transit is the most efficient way to serve that very large area, or whether increasing service on surface transit is a better idea.

              4. Dilbert

                “Not enough to keep the bus routes serving western St-Laurent very busy.”

                You need to get out more. The 121, as an example, runs very full almost from 6 am to 8 or 9 pm from cote vertu to place vertu area. Buses into the industrial areas beyond are busy at the times you would expect, plus later for second shift change.

                “It takes the 470 bus 20 minutes to get from Côte-Vertu to Fairview and vice-versa, assuming no traffic ”

                A significant part of that journey (and often the traffic) is getting too and from the Metro station along Cote Vertu. Just go have a quick count, Cote Vertu from 40 the the Metro is 10 to 12 traffic lights and almost 4kms of road. Average 30kms an hour and it takes about 8 minutes… really closer to 10 if you miss a couple of lights.

                “the question is whether heavy underground transit is the most efficient way to serve that very large area, or whether increasing service on surface transit is a better idea.”

                False Dichotomy. You are trying to create a black and white view of something that is way more nuanced and blended. Nobody is talking about extending the metro to the end of the island. You still need surface transit to get the job done. But when all of the surface transit involved is going down the same road to get to the subway and not serving anyone on that road, you have to ask if you are in fact doing the right thing. Getting the subway out past Place Vertu where it would be easily accessed by all of those West Island routes would be a significant time saver for them, and would likely change the equation for many from the area on if public transit is the right choice.

                Can you imagine what it would be like if the express from Fairview to the metro could run twice as often in the morning, being able to carry twice as many people?

                Cote Vertu metro area (like many stations) has a huge problem of street parking related to the metro. People WANT to park and take public transit, but they are unable to do so because there is a severe shortage of parking in the area. That is because the end of the metro line was brought to the wrong place. It’s exactly where you would put it, because you keep thinking “where do people live”, but that location is not practical for the people who you want to convert onto the subway system.

                Extending out to a point where parking could be created that would encourage people to take public transit would make a big difference. As an example, the Sears warehouse is likely to come up available soon enough (they are circling the bowl financially), and converting at least part of that huge parcel into facilitated parking could take a couple of thousand cars a day out of traffic. Isn’t that the true goal of public transit?

                Don’t think so? Go look at the parking at Namur (jammed every day). People will take public transit IF YOU LET THEM AND MAKE IT POSSIBLE.

                The STM’s budget dilemma is mostly based on expensive (and cost variable) surface transit using fuel burning buses, while not making investments and extensions to the electric metro system. Getting more people underground and getting more traffic off the streets is the true goal, and doing it with renewable hydro electric power instead of burning fossil fuels seems like a win for everyone.

                BTW, same argument should be made in Lasalle, where the Green line terminates in the wrong place. It needed to go to the other side of Lasalle / edge of Lachine to be truly effecient. Way too many buses have to drive the length of Newman Blvd to get to the subway. Two or three additional stops to the West would make a huge impact on traffic. At least Angrinon has parking (pay) which is used quite a bit – and still the surface streets are jammed with people wanting to take the subway but having no interest in a long and slow bus ride to get there.

                The STM doesn’t know who it’s true potential customer is. They are too busy saving existing customers 30 seconds on a trip to be bothered to attract new riders, except by pure accident or because of things like road construction or the price of gas. They market to their current riders, which is like selling the sold.

              5. Fagstein Post author

                A significant part of that journey (and often the traffic) is getting too and from the Metro station along Cote Vertu. Just go have a quick count, Cote Vertu from 40 the the Metro is 10 to 12 traffic lights and almost 4kms of road. Average 30kms an hour and it takes about 8 minutes… really closer to 10 if you miss a couple of lights.

                OK, now extending the metro there means the metro takes about five minutes longer. So the net savings is three minutes. Hundreds of millions of dollars to save three minutes on one bus route, or two if you reroute the STL’s 144 line to take Highway 13. Plus the savings for people who work or shop at Place Vertu. Does that sound reasonable?

                But when all of the surface transit involved is going down the same road to get to the subway and not serving anyone on that road, you have to ask if you are in fact doing the right thing.

                Since the 211 and 470 are very popular routes, I would argue that yes, it’s the right thing.

                Can you imagine what it would be like if the express from Fairview to the metro could run twice as often in the morning, being able to carry twice as many people?

                I don’t take the 470 during the morning rush hour, but if it’s packed to the point where it can’t carry the load, then they should add more buses. If not, why would they? It comes pretty often already.

                Extending out to a point where parking could be created that would encourage people to take public transit would make a big difference.

                Perhaps. Providing better bus service so people can take transit straight from their homes would also help.

              6. Dilbert

                “Hundreds of millions of dollars to save three minutes on one bus route, or two if you reroute the STL’s 144 line to take Highway 13. Plus the savings for people who work or shop at Place Vertu.”

                You would make a great politician, because you so very much ignore the facts and just cherry pick what you like.

                You forgot the tens of thousands of residents in the area, the businesses, and all the people who come and go to work in the area – includings to places such as Air Canada, Canadair (at the airport) and all the other companies in the area. You casually forget the tens of thousands of cars who drive past there on the way to downtown each day to clog up the city with more traffic.

                3 minutes? Nope, sorry. the 8 minute number was assuming NO traffic and an average speed of 30km/h . Realistically it’s 15 minutes from cote vertu station to the end during normal hours, and closer to 20 to 25 minutes during rush hour because there is too much traffic, even with bus lanes. (for the record, I use to go from Cote Vertu metro to my school every day near Place Vertu… I know the times by heart because I had to take them every day for years).

                Remember, the metro is not affected by weather, by traffic, by a stalled car, or any of those other things. It’s generally reliable and consistent, and you can move many more people at a time without issue.

                So no, you wouldn’t save 3 minutes… It sometimes takes the buses 3 minutes just to turn left to get into the Cote Vertu bus terminal! Nice try, but your argument holds no water (and your cherry picking facts is amusing but a poor attempting at being misleading).

                “I don’t take the 470 during the morning rush hour, but if it’s packed to the point where it can’t carry the load, then they should add more buses. If not, why would they? It comes pretty often already.”

                There is no indication that the STM works to meet demand. Please see the debacle of the 105 route for more information.

                “Providing better bus service so people can take transit straight from their homes would also help.”

                It’s an unrealistic notion in a place like Montreal and it’s surrounding areas, where everyone wants to live in suburbia and does not want to have buses running down their quiet little streets. Building public transit by ignoring the reality of the public is, well, par for the course (and seemingly the concept you support). It is way too expensive and way too wasteful to every little low density housing burb looking for passengers. We already know that most of them aren’t going to walk a mile or more in winter to stand at a cold bus stop hoping the bus isn’t late. They take their cars, plain and simple.

                So given the FACT that they take their cars to get away from their home and start their journey, isn’t it a good idea to work on getting them to get out of their cars before they contribute to congestion in the city core?

                We know the public loves that stuff – just go look at the parking areas at the train stations. Go look on the streets around metro stations in Montreal. People don’t want to have to take their cars into the core of the city, and they are looking for alternatives. Build 10,000 free parking spots attached to a metro access on the other side of traffic, and you will have people tripping over themselves to use it… Don’t think so? Go look at the Laval Metro stations.

                The proof is there. It’s what people do in Montreal. It’s how it works. If you want to move people out of their cars in the core of the city and move them into public transit, then you need to figure out where they come from and offer them a product they can support.

                http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/montreal/201501/13/01-4834591-investissements-de-la-caisse-de-depot-une-annonce-qui-ouvre-la-voie-a-de-grands-projets.php

                Here’s a great example. Putting solid public transit on the other side of the bridge and making it accessible works. We already know that because the south shore buses are pretty popular, and the public transit parking facilities are quite busy. Make it a train that is faster and more integrated into the metro system, and people will line up to use it – and traffic on the champlain bridge would be reduced or at least changed.

                So rather than cherry pick… why not face all the facts?

          2. emdx

            Frankly it would make a lot more sense to extend the green line from Angrignon through Lachine, where people live. But surface transit still makes the most sense.

            Not really. There’s not enough density (again).

            But whoop-de-doop-dee-doop! 30 years ago, there actually was a streetcar line project from Angrignon to serve LaSalle, line 11!!! See for yourself!!!

            That project could be modified to go all the way to Lachine and maybe (if were all nice boys) to Dorval itself, just like this.

            A better idea would be extending it to the Bois-Franc train station for easier intermodal transfers.

            That’s actually the least hare-brained of subway extension projects, now that we’re stuck with it. And I heard a rumour that the Métro tunnel is already dug all the way to Salaberry (haven’t been able to confirm it — and I even heard that an ex STCUM big shot actually go in the tunnel to verify that rumour)…

            Extending the metro to the industrial park would shorten the travel time of the 470 bus, assuming you found somewhere to build a new bus terminal.

            That’s nothing a reserved bus lane on Côte-Vertu wouldn’t solve…

            Reply
            1. Dilbert

              I can tell you that at minimum, the tunnel extends from Cote Vertu up almost to Canadair as it is…. it’s not really that far when you think about it. Remember that the turn around for the trains at the end of the line is at least 1.5 times the length of the station, at a bare minimum… and many of them are longer to allow for train parking at the ends as well.

              Reply
        2. emdx

          First off, I think you need to visit St Laurent. Most of the area where the metro would pass under (assuming it travels along about the level of Thimins blvd) is residential and DESTINATION locations.

          Not enough density to warrant a subway there.

          However, there are wide boulevards (Côte-Vertu, Laurentien, Henri-Bourassa, Thimens, Cavendish) that would be wonderfully suited for streetcar lines that would do a much better job than a single subway line extension.

          Extending from Cote Vertu just to an area around Thimens and highway 40 would significantly shorten the time for West Island travellers to reach the subway, would cut traffic on the congested Cote Vertu, and would save those travellers significantly more than a few minutes.

          At an exorbitant cost to their tax bills that will make west-islanders wince, no doubt…

          Getting from there to a space around Sources, near the end of the airport runway could be a significant game changer when it comes to public transit in the west island, as well as the incentive many need to stop driving their cars through the insane traffic to get downtown.

          Well, there are three commuter train stations “around Sources”: Pine-Beach, Valois & Roxboro.

          You see, tens if not hundreds of thousands of people a day travel to and from the West Island for work. Huge traffic jams happen in and around St Laurent as traffic tries to get past those zones, and the Cote Vertu metro station is one of the busiest stations as a result.

          It’s the head of the line… But, oddly enough, while the eastern line 2 branch (to Henri-Bourassa & Laval) is jam-packed, you don’t have much trouble finding a seat during rush-hours going to/from Côte-Vertu…

          The thing is, the western branch of line 2 should have not been built in the first place; there is just not enough density there, the proof being the low ridership.

          Actually, to make the western line 2 viable, it would have made a lot more sense to extend the Métro to Laval from Côte-Vertu rather than Henri-Bourassa. It would have balanced the traffic on the line.

          The traffic is so lopsided that it was originally decided to have every other train terminate at Henri-Bourassa, hence the wonky 3 platform station there.

          Having a station at highway 40 / 13 with appropriate levels of parking could make a significant impact on people driving in to work, who may choose the subway instead of taking the car.

          That would be a very easy thing to do; just build a train station at Saraguay on the already existing Montréal_Deux-Montagnes line. No need to dig some ruinous Métro tunnels there.

          It would also allow the Laval bus company to bring people more directly into the Montreal transit system without having to traverse too many surface streets.

          There aren’t very much people who come from Laval by transit; There are only 2 or 3 lines that terminate at Côte-Vertu.

          More and more, I realize that your answer (for this and for the CRTC) show that you are unwilling to consider anything radical.

          Hey give the guy a break; he has finally landed his dream job, so it’s perfectly understandable for him not to rock the boat.

          Everything must be fine tuning within the current framework, rerouting a bus here or amending a broadcast license there.

          That’s because it’s the only thing that can be done given the current economic situation.

          If the city of Montreal’s goal is to get people to not bring their cars to the city core, and their goal is to get more people using public transit, then the STM, AMT, and other transit companies that serve and bring people to Montreal need to have the same goals – and they need to act on them.

          Ain’t gonna happen. The government has the obligation of maximizing revenue to Canada, which would not happen if we stop buying cars and gas. Canada is a federation that exists to enrich big industries, not serve the people.

          It’s nice to open train lines, but without sufficient parking and without sufficient service levels (number of seats and frequency) those things are limited. If you want to reach the goal of encouraging people not to drive, then you have to make the alternative better.

          The people get what they vote for.

          Run for office on a pro-transit platform. You’ll see what I mean.

          Making service slightly better for those already taking the train (by building the blue line extension) doesn’t do much to meet the goals.

          Sure it does. It brings in a lot of swing voters!

          Those are people who already take the bus and metro to get to the city core. For most people, the blue line extension would send them in the wrong direction, and push them onto the already over crowded orange line in the end.

          Don’t worry. It won’t ever get built. Too expensive.

          Their current express buses to the green line is almost as good a solution.

          Here you go! If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

          It actually shows that it might be significantly better to build a new north south route in the east to connect with the green line, as their express buses already do.

          If the buses do a good job, why build a subway line? At the most, you could get two or three streetcar lines for the same price; they’d rake a wider territory.

          Can you explain the STM’s current goals? I can’t, except for self perpetuation and high salaries for disconnected execs.

          Their hands are tied by the Conderre administration, whose priorities are definitely not transit.

          Next time, vote for pro-transit politicians.

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            The traffic is so lopsided that it was originally decided to have every other train terminate at Henri-Bourassa, hence the wonky 3 platform station there.

            This is not why there’s a three-platform setup at Henri-Bourassa.

            Reply
          2. Dilbert

            Actually, street cars in Montreal are not a very good idea in general. The winter is too harsh, the street cars are still subject to the rules of the road and traffic, and you create road hazards for both cars and pedestrians by making people stand on “islands” to get on the subway. Spend a little time in Toronto, where the winter isn’t anywhere near as bad as Montreal, and you can see that street cars are not a great answer.

            ” there are three commuter train stations “around Sources”: Pine-Beach, Valois & Roxboro”

            Yes, on a train line that is already over crowded at rush hour… to the point where people cannot get on the trains. There seems to be a lack of desire to prove enough service on these lines to satisfy demand. I mean, think about it, you can go from downtown to St Laurent in 15 minutes on the train, or almost an hour on the metro / bus combination. People would take it if it wasn’t such a hassle!

            “Actually, to make the western line 2 viable, it would have made a lot more sense to extend the Métro to Laval from Côte-Vertu rather than Henri-Bourassa. ”

            You are correct. However, that would have meant sending the metro into anglo-rich Chomedy, which was not a popular political thing to do. Also, Laval is pushing hard on their new downtown and making no effort at all to improve the western end of the city. So the metro pretty much had to come from HB for them. It’s part of the reason I say the Cote Vertu end need to extend to a point where people from Laval (and Laval bus routes on the western side of the island) would consider going to the other end of the line. Cote Vertu metro is just not in a very user friendly location.

            “That’s because it’s the only thing that can be done given the current economic situation.”

            It’s the poorest of excuses. The economic situation is often brought on by those types of decisions, where you decline to fix a problem and instead just try to control it’s budget or make a minor change that won’t help.

            “If the buses do a good job, why build a subway line? At the most, you could get two or three streetcar lines for the same price; they’d rake a wider territory.”

            As I said before, streetcar lines have a very high impact on all other road users, on general traffic flow, and create more hassles than they fix. Underground means cleaner, safer, no traffic, no impact, and not affected by weather. Can you remind me how many 1960s buses are running above ground, versus how many 1960s metro trains are still running? It’s a pretty simple deal, no?

            “Their hands are tied by the Conderre administration, whose priorities are definitely not transit.”

            The problem is that the previous pro-transit administration was too obstructionist when it came to getting things done, and contributed in no small part to delays in major road construction projects in and around the city. Things will only change when there is a “fair deal” administration who works to find solutions that can address both sides.

            “If the buses do a good job, why build a subway line? ”

            Subways are clean, they are underground. They are not subject to traffic, weather, or other issues. They run on clean electric power, and a single 9 car metro train moves more people than an equal number of city buses… for significantly less ongoing costs. Initial costs to tunnel are high, but as they have shown in London, a hundred or more years later those tunnels are still in use. The core of the Montreal metro was built 50 years ago (as were many of the trains still in use). It’s infrastructure for the ages, not for the moment.

            I currently live in a city with amazing public transit. Everyone takes it – you see everyone from bankers to buskers all in the same trains. The core subway line runs trains less than 2 minutes apart and they are jammed anyway – people love the transit system that gets them places quickly and efficiently. Montreal has that potential, but falls down by not making the product desirable or beneficial. Montreal should have done everything possible to encourage people into public transit, to provide a killer, top notch service that was as desirable as could be.

            Every choice has been made to server those who MUST take the system due to lack of choice, and not to attract those who have a choice. So people choose… to drive themselves instead.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              However, that would have meant sending the metro into anglo-rich Chomedy, which was not a popular political thing to do.

              Or maybe the fact that Henri-Bourassa is 700m from Laval and Côte-Vertu is 4km away might have something to do with it.

              a single 9 car metro train moves more people than an equal number of city buses… for significantly less ongoing costs

              What’s your source for the assertion that a nine=car metro train has less ongoing costs than nine city buses?

              Reply
              1. Dilbert

                “Or maybe the fact that Henri-Bourassa is 700m from Laval and Côte-Vertu is 4km away might have something to do with it.”

                Not relevant, considering where the stations ended up. There is enough population on the Montreal side (as well as tunnels already dug) to cover about 1/3 of that distance… plus give the potential to integrate with the AMT train line. The desire was to serve the “new” Laval. We don’t know of course how much the mayor of laval at the time made off the whole deal… what land was sold, bought, and such… Chomedy wasn’t going to make any of them rich.

                Again, you are making an assumption that the space from Cote Vertu to the rest of the world is an empty wasteland, where nobody lives, nobody works, and nobody travels – and that no stations would be put on the Montreal side to improve public transit for Montrealers as well.

                “What’s your source for the assertion that a nine=car metro train has less ongoing costs than nine city buses?”

                STM’s own reports over the years, pointing out that metros are more effecient than buses on a per passenger mile basis. That of course combining with the significant increases in the costs of fuel versus the cost of electricity.

                Pretty much every time a metro extension is discussed, the concept of lower costs, less pollution… those are all generally at the top of the list.

              2. Fagstein Post author

                Again, you are making an assumption that the space from Cote Vertu to the rest of the world is an empty wasteland, where nobody lives, nobody works, and nobody travels – and that no stations would be put on the Montreal side to improve public transit for Montrealers as well.

                No, I’m making the assumption that it would be more expensive to dig another 3km worth of tunnel, whether or not it has stations. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, I’m saying if the goal was to bring the metro to Laval, it was easier to do so from Henri-Bourassa than Côte-Vertu.

    2. emdx

      STM’s issues mostly relate to how it’s managed and it’s basic operating goals. It’s a legacy that goes all the way back to long before they integrated the West Island Grey Line stuff… and continues to this very day.

      For this, blame western suburbs that didn’t exactly go out of the way to actually ASK for public transit… It’s not for nothing that the CTCUM didn’t go there until 1980…

      STM’s problems can be explained simply by two things: The metro doesn’t go far enough,

      The Métro already goes too far already; only the downtown core has enough density to justify the Métro. Everywhere else would have been much better served by a revamped streetcar system.

      and things like the debacle of the 105 line tell you all that is wrong. There is no reason to have so many resources serving so many people so poorly.

      The 105 debacle is nothing compared to the West-Island clusterfuck.

      Worry about extending the orange line from cote vertu out to the airport area,

      Not enough density. Besides, the “airport area” is already served by a commuter train line.

      interchanging with a purpose built train line that follows highway 13 all the way to it’s finish.

      You mean St-Eustache? There is also another commuter train line that goes nearby.

      Worry about creating a Metro extension through the new Champlain bridge so that stations could be set on the other side of the bridge, significantly changing traffic patterns.

      Don’t worry too much, that’ll never be done. The new Champlain bridge will be built with a dedicaced bus lanes, and they will never be converted to rail transit, because it will be deemed “too expensive”.

      Mark my words.

      When I saw the new Champlain bridge presentation at the AMT some weeks ago, they explained that they gonna build the new bridge with a dedicaced bus sub-bridge, which could be converted to rail transit “later”. When they’d do so, they’d move the buses to the bridge shoulders what would become reserved bus lanes.

      So I asked “why not simply run the buses on the shoulders right now, and don’t bother with the extra expense of building the bus sub-bridge and leave it virgin until you’re ready to lay down the tracks, so you spare the expense of paving the sub-bridge in the first place, then ripping it out afterwards. Sounds just like the perfect excuse to force the rail transit to never be built”…

      So the head honcho had some flunky answer such a magnificent non-response that, in two full minutes, managed to convey exactly zero information that it was clear from the beginning that there never was any intention of actually building rail transit to Brossard, ever.

      Get the Green line from Angrinon extended out at least into Lachine or even to the airport.

      Why for? There is no density to justify it to Angrignon already.

      And besides, do you really want to stare at a blank concrete tunnel wall for 45 minutes???

      Drive actual paying customers into the metro system, increase train frequency, and make it work.

      It will work when people will vote for politicians who are actually dedicaced to make transit viable. And that’s not what the West-Island had any history of doing, ever, and it’s not likely it’s gonna change. The mere mention of the politicians who want to make transit viable (that’s “Projet Montréal”) causes shrieks of terror from those people who are not enlightened enough to have taken residence on the ultra-saint-holy Plateau Mont-Royal and ditched their cars.

      People are not going to drive through traffic to get on island and then park at a metro station (most of which don’t have any parking anyway) to take another 30-45 minute ride into town that they could have done from their car in 15 minutes. You have to bring the service to them and make it a valid option.

      As soon as the people will vote for a $1/liter gas tax and a $800/year tax on every parking space (public or private), it’s gonna happen.

      Without a change in the mentality and the customer base, the costs will continue to increase and the number of travellers will stagnate. Every time the price goes up, a car starts to look more attractive.

      This is by design. Road transportation sucks 20% of the gross domestic product out of Québec, and the current colonial federalist government has obligations to fulfil towards Canada.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        “blame western suburbs that didn’t exactly go out of the way to actually ASK for public transit”

        I agree. However, just like the situation in the south shore, one of the reasons the yellow line is not extended is because the municipalities don’t want to pay for it. They don’t seem to accept that they are Montreal’s bedroom communities and a huge contributor to the problem of congestion on the roads and the city streets of Montreal.

        “The Métro already goes too far already; only the downtown core has enough density to justify the Métro. Everywhere else would have been much better served by a revamped streetcar system.”

        Street cars are a non-starter in Montreal. If you talk perhaps surface and elevated light rail, you might have a chance. But streetcars just won’t work in a city where the streets are too narrow, where there is too much street parking, and where streets are often blocked by snow and such and even more limited than they already are.

        “Not enough density. Besides, the “airport area” is already served by a commuter train line.”

        Sadly, not true. If you worked at the airport, you would know that the train is an “almost” thing that doesn’t work out – and that for residents, the train doesn’t run often enough and isn’t integrated into the public transit system. It’s why buses don’t go to the train, they go all the way into town to Lionel Groulx and such. The train is useless when it only runs once an hour, only people who take it on schedule will get a benefit. Otherwise, the bus ride downtown is shorter than waiting for the train – but that doesn’t solve the issues of traffic.

        “There is no density to justify it to Angrignon already.”

        Go spend a little time there to understand. Huge condo developments, plenty of traffic, and many bus lines all come in there. For the moment, many buses run the length of Newman to deliver passengers. South Shore buses come over the Mercier bridge and drive all the way along surface streets to the metro. The real deal is that there needs to be a place where the buses don’t have to waste time running in lockstep down the same street to get to the metro, when the metro could be extended out to better places where a proper bus terminal could be built, where parking could be made available, and people could be converted from driving into town into riding into town.

        “And besides, do you really want to stare at a blank concrete tunnel wall for 45 minutes???”

        45 minutes of tunnel would put you about 35 kilomters down the pipe… something like maybe Coteau Du Lac. Nobody is proposing that sort of extension.

        “As soon as the people will vote for a $1/liter gas tax and a $800/year tax on every parking space (public or private), it’s gonna happen.”

        Then we won’t need public transit, because we will all ride our flying cows to work.

        ” Road transportation sucks 20% of the gross domestic product out of Québec”

        Yeah, and damn, the buses run on it. Clearly, public transit is at fault here!

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          If you worked at the airport, you would know that the train is an “almost” thing that doesn’t work out – and that for residents, the train doesn’t run often enough and isn’t integrated into the public transit system.

          Sure, but surely this is easier to fix than the billion and a half dollars or more it’ll take to extend the metro to the airport. And in fact the government wants to see exactly that happen.

          It’s why buses don’t go to the train, they go all the way into town to Lionel Groulx and such.

          Last time I checked, the Dorval train station was right next to a major bus terminal. And there are bus terminals at the Beaconsfield and Roxboro stations as well. And most other stations have buses that pass by. Sure, the service needs to be improved, but people do take buses to the trains.

          Reply
        2. emdx

          … one of the reasons the yellow line is not extended is because the municipalities don’t want to pay for it.

          Not really. The main reason is that there is no density to justify it. Which is pretty much the case of everywhere except for the downtown core.

          They don’t seem to accept that they are Montreal’s bedroom communities and a huge contributor to the problem of congestion on the roads and the city streets of Montreal.

          So? That’s not for them to decide, but for the facts alone.

          Street cars are a non-starter in Montreal. If you talk perhaps surface and elevated light rail, you might have a chance. But streetcars just won’t work in a city where the streets are too narrow, where there is too much street parking,

          They worked magnificently for nearly a century.

          And it won’t hurt anyone to cut down on the street parking.

          and where streets are often blocked by snow and such and even more limited than they already are.

          Steetcars think nothing of the snow. Really.

          Sadly, not true. If you worked at the airport, you would know that the train is an “almost” thing that doesn’t work out

          It works fine for me; before the 747, whenever I went to the airport, I either took the 211 or the train, walked accross Cardinal and took the parking shuttle bus. I did that the last time I went to Europe (this was before the 747) and that saved me the traffic aggravation.

          and that for residents, the train doesn’t run often enough and isn’t integrated into the public transit system.

          Sure it is. You can take the bus and the Métro with your premium train pass.

          It’s why buses don’t go to the train, they go all the way into town to Lionel Groulx and such.

          If the Waste-Island mayors really wanted good transit, they would have it.

          The thing is, they all consider transit as something demeaning because it means that there are — GASP! — poor people going to the Waste-Island, and we all know that poor people are dangerous, because they want to rob the rich.

          At least, Mont-Royal was doing it right before the pesky Urban Community robbed it of it’s police farce that kicked-out anybody who dared show-up in a beat-up old car.

          The train is useless when it only runs once an hour, only people who take it on schedule will get a benefit.

          It suits the majority of the people who work downtown.

          Otherwise, the bus ride downtown is shorter than waiting for the train – but that doesn’t solve the issues of traffic.

          Sure it does; a bus replaces about 45 cars.

          Go spend a little time there to understand. Huge condo developments, plenty of traffic, and many bus lines all come in there.

          I go there enough already. There is still not enough density; to have enough density, every house within 1 km of the station would have to be replaced by a 4 story building.

          For the moment, many buses run the length of Newman to deliver passengers. South Shore buses come over the Mercier bridge and drive all the way along surface streets to the metro. The real deal is that there needs to be a place where the buses don’t have to waste time running in lockstep down the same street to get to the metro, when the metro could be extended out to better places where a proper bus terminal could be built, where parking could be made available, and people could be converted from driving into town into riding into town.

          Which is what line 11 on this diagram would do without the ruinous expense of extending the Métro in a low-density area.

          Yes, it adds a transfer. If suburban life would not suck, there would be far more people going there, no?

          Then we won’t need public transit, because we will all ride our flying cows to work.

          Pigs. Flying pigs. Not cows.

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            If the Waste-Island mayors really wanted good transit, they would have it.

            West Island mayors have been calling for the Train de l’Ouest for years now. The government hasn’t given it to them because the West Island doesn’t have any swing ridings.

            Reply
            1. emdx

              West Island mayors have been calling for the Train de l’Ouest for years now. The government hasn’t given it to them because the West Island doesn’t have any swing ridings.

              Nope.

              They just want a first-class Rolls Royce (commuter trains every 15 minutes) where all that is warranted is a Chevrolet (good bus service).

              Reply
          2. Dilbert

            “Steetcars think nothing of the snow. Really.”

            Streetcars don’t have a problem with snow (unless there is an incline, different issue), rather it’s because if you put a streetcar going each way on a 4 lane street, you are left with two open traffic lanes and two shared lanes. When it snows, it’s not unusual to lose a lane in each direction, meaning that all of the traffic would be on the street car lanes. That would render the street cars ineffective (no better than a bus), and it would make the entire project very inefficient.

            “Sure it is. You can take the bus and the Métro with your premium train pass.”

            Wrong integration. The point is because the trains don’t run very often, the buses generally don’t run to the train in the same manner that buses run to the metro. So instead of buses running up and down sources and St Jean and whatnot terminating at the train station, they go all the way to the metro in town instead. The train isn’t an integrated component, it’s just an option for certain people. If the trains ran every 15 minutes, as an example, then the west island buses could run to the train and be done from there – of course assuming that the trains were properly integrated into the metro system further in town, which they generally are NOT.

            “Which is what line 11 on this diagram would do without the ruinous expense of extending the Métro in a low-density area.”

            Funny enough, the map is a pretty good indication of a decent extension of the metro, out to the end of Lasalle to the old whiskey trench area. There is land out there that could (a) be developed into parking to feed the subway, (b) could save a ton of fuel for both Montreal and South Shore buses, and (c) would put the metro much closer to being the other side of traffic, making it a much better option for travellers from the west and south to “park and ride”.

            Pigs. Three different ones.

            Reply
      2. Dilbert

        “Why for? There is no density to justify it to Angrignon already”

        Any time you say “lack of density” I have to laugh. Do you understand that realistically there are very few places in CANADA that have enough density to really justify any of this? Take a look at where the metro lines run in Montreal now. There is very little residential areas in Montreal that are more than 4 stories tall, and anything over 10 is exceptional. The residential density in LaSalle (around Angrinon metro) is perhaps higher than almost any other “non core” station in the city, even with a big park attached to it, because of the number of taller buildings built and being built right in the area. The rest of northern LaSalle (along Newman) is about as densely populated as any other part of the island of Montreal.

        More importantly, however, is that Western Lasalle (and Lachine) are significant choke points on surface streets and main arteries in the city. Traffic comes in on the 20, the 13, and the Mercier Bridge, and huge amounts of congestion results. If people want to take the subway into town from out here, they can’t do it – they have to face the worst of traffic before they can actually get on public transit. At that point, just driving into the city is faster. Add to the mix that the Angrinon parking is pay to park, and that the street parking is heavily restricted by middle of the day no parking shifts purposely created to make it so people don’t park and go on the subway… there is little that will encourage people to park and ride.

        To make public transit work (and to make it a better choice for all commuters) sometimes you have to go not to the highest density points, but to the most accessible points. The Montreal system has almost no places where commuters can park and ride, in part because the majority of stations are located by population density and not for accessibility. The only parking on the Western orange line is at Namur, and it’s packed every day, even with a relatively poor location. People would love to take public transit if the transit company would work with them.

        So finding the space for parking a signficant number of cars and enabling people to get off the roads is key to getting people to use public transit. It would also be incredibly beneficial financially, because those people who only ride the metro (and don’t take a bus at all) are the most profitable sorts of customers for the system. They use the least resources and pay the full price.

        If you don’t think so, you only have to look at what happens when parking is put next to public transit. Amazing things happen, people literally will fight to get the parking so they don’t have to drive into town. Most of the train line parking is full daily, in many places they have overflow and over over flow trying to keep up.

        In Duex Montagnes, example, the train parking is normally full before sunrise, and so much so that local businesses are renting parking to people. Adding another 500 parking spaces up there would directly equal to 500 fewer cars in town – but because the different levels of government and whatnot cannot seem to get anything done, there is no such service. The number of trains on that line (especially during rush hour) could likely double and there would still be people willing to take the train, if they had a place to park or an easy way to get there. These are people who otherwise drive into town.

        The lack of planning and the lack of cooperation between the various agencies and governments means more congestion for the city. You want to get cars off the downtown streets and ease congestion? Get those people from the burb into public transit. But you need to actually work together, and the outlying communities need to accept their part of the responsibility as well.

        Reply
  2. Jean Naimard

    And the amount of subsidies from the Quebec government has gone up more than 200%.

    And how is that bad? That’s very good; Montréal is the economic engine of Québec, and anything that can help people not spend more on their transportation AND use transit means that more money stays in Québec, to prop up our Economy.

    The other side comes back with the argument that income and costs of living are lower in Montreal, so you can’t compare cities like that.

    […]

    But before you blame the unions or some other invented bogeyman, consider that the cost per hour worked at the STM went gone up about the same as the median family income in Montreal.

    One thing that is never compared when one brings in Toronto or whatever is the productivitity. I mean, the amount of work per man/hour of salary, or how many salary-hours is required to keep the trains/buses running…

    I’ll be willing to bet that the STM’s ratios are amongst the best there are…

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      And how is that bad?

      It’s bad for the quantitative analysis because it increases the revenue side artificially. Without it, the STM would have either had to increase prices more or decrease expenses, which would make it look a lot worse in this analysis.

      Reply
  3. Francois

    I did the same thing!

    However, I looked at how many hours at minimum wage you’d have to work to buy a monthly buss pass. I only had data from 2002, but it stays relatively consistent at between 7 and 8.1 hours of work at minimum wage to afford a monthly buss pass (data & graph available if you like).

    I found this an interesting way to calculate the cost of something over time. I think I heard about it during the student protests where someone who looked at the numbers said that the number of hours at minimum wage needed to work to afford a university education has gone up significantly since the 70’s and 80’s

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      However, I looked at how many hours at minimum wage you’d have to work to buy a monthly buss pass.

      That’s one I hadn’t thought of. I just crunched the numbers, and minimum wage went up 33% from 2005-2013, which is consistent with the fare increases.

      Reply
  4. Derek Cassoff

    Seems like they just automatically increase the price about three percent every year. Not because of any anticipated jump in expenses or to account for any projected capital expenditures. Simply because they can.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Seems like they just automatically increase the price about three percent every year. Not because of any anticipated jump in expenses or to account for any projected capital expenditures. Simply because they can.

      Since they come up with a budget every year, and balance it, I’m not sure why you think they ignore it when setting fare prices.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I would like to know how much STM is spending to sponsor different activities unrelated to their mission.

      That’s not a line item in the budget, but presumably it would come out of planning, marketing and communications, which represents 3.5% of the budget. Half of that goes to employee salaries.

      Keep in mind most STM sponsorships to independent events don’t involve giving money, but rather partnerships over transportation services. The STM could offer a deal on bus service or special transit fares in exchange for sponsorship credit, for example.

      Reply
      1. Michael Black

        Or “sponsorship” might mean providing advertising space at a discount or even for free. So they aren’t putting out money, just not taking in the advertising income.

        We tend to think of “sponsorship” in terms of money, when it is apparently often “in kind” or just discounts.

        And it’s generally not generosity. A “sponsor” will get some level of recognition from the event, so it can probably count towards advertising. Sometimes the event may be the very subset of the population the sponsor is trying to reach. Or, a tshirt company might provide tshirts for free or at a high discount, and emblazon their own logo on the back.

        Since we often don’t see details, it can often be an illusion. Providing a website is sponsorship, but likely costs the sponsor very little. It doesn’t have to mean the event i rolling in money, even if it has plenty of listed sponsors.

        In the case of the STM, “sponsorship” may mean the event makes a point of telling people the best way to get there is public transport, which the city may want, and will increase ridership for the event.

        Michael

        Reply
  5. mike007

    I’m taking Highway 20 every day. I’m puzzled about the “new” Taxi and bus line on 20 east. IS EMPTY! Taxi drivers are clueless about that, they just stay in traffic with other drivers. How much they spent on that line?
    What’s the effect? Why don’t you write something about that ? Why do they have to use transportation money for festivals and then at the end of the year they cry about their deficit? since I’m paying for STM (taxes) I don’t want my money to sponsor downtown artistic activities.

    Montreal public transportation is crap. We try to compare ourselves with European cites in terms of public transportation but we completely ignore the amount of money those cities spent on public transportation. You cannot have same level of services without money.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I don’t want my money to sponsor downtown artistic activities.

      Well you’re going to be disappointed then. I would suggest voting for federal, provincial and municipal governments in the future that are anti-art.

      Reply
      1. mike007

        We, people from West Island we have to pay “our share” for STM budget. And that amount is slowly increasing because of increasing expenses. But I hate when the expenses are related to other activities downtown. This attitude is similar to a beggar that is begging for money for food but at the end he is buying alcohol.

        Reply
  6. Dilbert

    Let’s try this a different way, perhaps to make it easier to explain.

    The goal for the STM should be to get as many people as possible to stop using their cars, and instead to opt for the “clean and green” options of public transit. They have to work to be the provider that gets people from point A to point B in a reasonable time at a reasonable cost, offering both a service to those who have no other choice and those who DO have a choice.

    The problem? The STM is working only to offer service to those who have no other choice. It’s why so many Montrealers aspire to own a car and get off of public transit. The further you get away from the core of the city, the more people prefer cars, even if they have to deal with traffic.

    We already know that given a viable alternative, people WILL take public transit. We know this because of full or near full parking around many of the furthest away metro stations, including the insane amounts of congestion around the Laval stations. We also know this because the uptake on train lines and parking at train stations is very high as well. Quite simply, offering the right product to the right people encourages them to use public transit. The STM doesn’t do this intentionally, it’s almost incidental to their operations.

    The results? Almost the entire metro system was created with only the consideration that people local to the station would walk into it, or people further away would take a bus. Except for a couple of stations, there is essentially no parking around the stations and no chance to do so. Where it is offered (like Namur and Angrinon) the parking facilities are incredibly popular and well used. You only have to go count the number of cars in these parking areas each day to get an idea of the number of cars that are NOT in the downtown core as a result of this parking. You can do the same looking at the AMT train line stations. The new East train opened and already 4000+ people a day are using it, to the point where the trains are running nearly full.

    The STM is stuck worrying about how to marginally improve service for the people already using their system. That may fulfill their goals to improve their customer ranking and justify their positions on the board for another cycle, but it’s not doing much to help the traffic conditions in Montreal.

    They are not going to think out of that box because they don’t believe there is anything outside the box. Until they realize that the people not taking public are the potential customers for the future, they will not do enough to change the reality of the Montreal morning commute.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Except for a couple of stations, there is essentially no parking around the stations and no chance to do so.

      That is correct, mainly because most metro stations are in high-density areas and it would cost a lot to set up parking lots (particularly if they’re free).

      The STM is stuck worrying about how to marginally improve service for the people already using their system.

      I’m not sure I get the logic here. How does improving service not also improve service for people who decide to start taking transit?

      As for the STM’s apparent not caring about people who don’t already use public transit, the increase in the number of monthly passes sold over the past decade would seem to suggest otherwise.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        “That is correct, mainly because most metro stations are in high-density areas and it would cost a lot to set up parking lots (particularly if they’re free).”

        The point being that while the stations do a good job of serving those that live right there, they do in fact make it harder to access the from the outside or to “drive and park” and take the metro into town. The results are huge nightmares of street parking and upset locals as outsiders crowd their streets looking for places to park.

        “I’m not sure I get the logic here. How does improving service not also improve service for people who decide to start taking transit?”

        If the metro and bus combo taking an hour to get me downtown (instead of a 15 minutes drive) isn’t attractive, turning it into 55 minutes isn’t going to change things much. Marginal improvements aren’t going to do much to change the way people look at using public transit.

        “As for the STM’s apparent not caring about people who don’t already use public transit, the increase in the number of monthly passes sold over the past decade would seem to suggest otherwise.”

        STM basically has had the dumb luck of gas prices going through the roof. There is little indication that anythjng that the STM has done has made the service so dramatically more attractive. I would say that perhaps it’s the ratio between single ticket prices and monthly passes that have driven people who would have been just ticket buyer in the past into being pass holders. I would also take a guess to say that the extension into Laval did a big part of the job.

        Can you suggest anything that the STM has specifically done to make their product so much more attractive? I can’t.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          There is little indication that anythjng that the STM has done has made the service so dramatically more attractive.

          Except for the increase in ridership that coincided with a substantial increase in service in bus and metro service. Maybe that’s because of gas prices, maybe it’s just because of the population increase. It’s hard to conclude for certain either way. But regardless, ridership is up, not down.

          I would also take a guess to say that the extension into Laval did a big part of the job.

          Can you suggest anything that the STM has specifically done to make their product so much more attractive? I can’t.

          Please see your own previous sentence.

          Reply
          1. Dilbert

            “Please see your own previous sentence.”

            Yup, so you are saying that they did nothing except meet pent up demand. In other words, did more buses bring people in, or were people not taking the bus before only because they were too full?

            The “substantial increase” in Metro service only gets it back to levels that it was at more than a decade ago, if I remember correctly. Metro trains don’t run any more frequently than they did at points in the past, so it’s not like there has been a huge increase – rather, there was a huge decrease in services in both bus and metro, and they are only starting to put it back.

            After all, they don’t have any new metro trains, and they have been claiming for years that they are operating as many trains as they have. it’s not like they could increase peak very much, right?

            Your future post with the STM is looking better and better every day!

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              Yup, so you are saying that they did nothing except meet pent up demand.

              No I’m not saying that.

              The “substantial increase” in Metro service only gets it back to levels that it was at more than a decade ago, if I remember correctly.

              Not really. I only go back a decade, but I don’t think metro service plummeted by that much just before then.

              After all, they don’t have any new metro trains, and they have been claiming for years that they are operating as many trains as they have. it’s not like they could increase peak very much, right?

              Yes. There’s also the question that the trains have to be a minimum distance apart to ensure safety. But what the STM did a few years ago was not to add trains during rush hour, but to extend rush hour, adding trains on the shoulders of rush hour. So rush hour itself trains would still be 2-3 minutes apart, but just before and just after, instead of being six minutes apart, they’d be, say, four. The idea was to encourage people to travel more outside of rush hour without them having to wait forever for trains.

              And they did add some trains, kinda. They improved their maintenance procedures so fewer trains were out of service during rush hour, and in 2004 they found a way to take a prototype train that they didn’t use (because it didn’t have autopilot) and put it back into service. It was minor improvements, but it helped, though the Laval extension was a minor push in the other way because it extended the network.

              Reply
              1. emdx

                The original signalling system in the Métro allowed for a 90 second interval between trains — and this was with manually-controlled trains (this service interval was achieved in Paris back in 1937 using a manual block system — a dude in each station told when the train should leave).

                I do not think that the new revamped system now in use allows for a shorter interval, but 90 seconds is at least twice as much service as currently during rush hour…

              2. Dilbert

                “Not really. I only go back a decade, but I don’t think metro service plummeted by that much just before then.”

                It’s not very hard to figure out. The system was built to handle under 2 minutes between trains. The rolling stock when the system opened for 1967 was there to do that level of peak service.

                When the green line was massively extended, they added the MR-73 trains. However, the last car added was in 1977 or so. Since then, the length of the orange line has almost doubled, the blue line has been added, and so on.

                Quite simply, they don’t have the rolling stock to support the service. In face, the current peak times (according to the STM site) are:

                Green: Every 3 to 5 minutes
                Orange: Every 3 to 4 minutes
                Yellow: Every 4 to 5 minutes
                Blue: Every 4 to 5 minutes

                The rest of the time, they have times varying from 5 to 11 minutes. They are literally using every piece of equipment (and even the converted unit you mention) and all they can manage is half of what the system can handle. Put another way, they could add all of the Azur trains and keep all of the old trains and still barely make it up to what the system can handle at peak.

                So yeah, the current service levels aren’t even up to what it was yet. That’s pretty sad.

  7. Apple IIGS

    Can you suggest anything that the STM has specifically done to make their product so much more attractive? I can’t.

    I just posted a series of points which show how the STM has actually done the opposite, driving people away from their product (e.g. near-criminal demeanor towards specific customers without reprimand, outdated rolling stock, lack of comfort by refusing to install a/c in transit, over zealous security agents, apathy towards keeping intoxicated drivers off the road on new year’s eve, flaws with the Opus and ticket system, cut backs to services, basic maintenance and safety in light huge bonuses paid to executives, etc).

    Nothing offensive or written in poor taste, at least not that I could see, yet Steve has decided to censor my post. If this too is deleted I can only assume he is not neutral when it comes to issues of the STM.

    Reply

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