It’s time for the STM to get serious about New Year’s Eve service

The STM wants you to consider public transit if you’re going out to a New Year’s Eve party tonight. It’s promising “3700 designated drivers” to help take you home after you’ve been drinking.

Which is great. Except I can’t find any evidence that the STM is doing anything to improve service to make it easier for people to use public transit tonight.

This would seem like a perfect opportunity for the STM to run the metro all night, but it doesn’t do that. Nor is it running later than usual. Hell, they’re not even running it on a Saturday schedule, which would keep trains running an extra half hour. Instead, it’s the regular weekday schedule, which means the last trains leave Berri-UQAM just before 1am, and leave the terminuses as early as 12:30am. On the blue line, the last trains leave at 12:15. Which means to take one of them you basically have to yell “Happy New Year” as you’re walking out the door.

If you’re taking a bus to the metro, especially from somewhere like the West Island or Laval, you have to leave before midnight, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Demanding the metro run all night is a common request of STM users, and I understand why it can’t be met. Overnight is when the STM does maintenance on the tracks and in the tunnels, stuff that can’t be done while the trains are running.

But the metro has run all night before, such as during the annual Nuit Blanche event in February. Would it really be impossible to run it overnight one other night a year? Even at a reduced schedule, with trains every 20 minutes, would be far better than people waiting outside in the cold for buses.

Sure, it would cost money. Employees would have to work overtime, and because it’s Jan. 1 they’d get stat pay on top of that. But all the metro stations are open at the stroke of midnight, so metro employees are already missing the chance to drink champagne after a countdown.

Buses don’t solve the problem

The STM points to the night bus network as a way to get home after the metro is closed. And as a regular user of night buses, I can attest to their usefulness. But I can’t find any evidence that the STM is increasing service on night buses tonight, either. Instead, it’s the regular Thursday night schedule, in which most lines are running only once every 45 minutes. That’s a long wait out in the cold.

And of course the night buses don’t go everywhere. There are places in the West Island, St-Laurent borough and east end where the closest night bus stop is more than 1.5 km away. Starting from a home in Kirkland? You could be looking at a half-hour walk to the nearest stop.

Putting regular and night bus service on a Saturday schedule would be the least they could do. But they’re not. Or at least it’s not being announced, and if people don’t know the buses are coming they’re as good as useless.

This isn’t a complex problem to solve. It’s one night a year where a couple of extra hours of service would make a huge difference.

But instead, the STM is doing nothing except advertising “3700 designated drivers”, the vast majority of whom won’t be available after midnight tonight.

25 thoughts on “It’s time for the STM to get serious about New Year’s Eve service

  1. John

    Interesting. Toronto extends its subway service and most bus routes that have late evening service till about 4 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. And the TTC is free from 7 p.m. tonight till 7 a.m. tomorrow, thanks to a sponsor. (Around 4 a.m., the regular overnight Bus and Streetcar routes continue TTC service.)

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  2. Mario D.

    First of all best wishes to you and yours for 2016. May this new year bring you every possible opportunity to be happy !

    Have to agree with you about the lack of imagination from the STM to gain popularity as times tends to send the message that we need and have to think greener and safer for all.
    As a Laval part time commuter i find that the STL is putting forward many ideas to attract new users. It may not be up to par in off peak time everywhere also but they have initiatives that the STM should consider like on the 24 th and the 31 st it was $1.00 fares as it is the case on smog days. They will soon have a family fare also and are installing new technologies in the traffic lights to make sure that a bus that is a few seconds late on his schedule gets the green light. Details, details, details but so important when you compare to the stale STM handcuffed by the ever power full unions running the joint…

    As much as you are talking about one night a year, i see a much bigger trend.I just do not understand how such an important tool in MTL can be soooo off track with the rest of the population. Haven t they been on the road at 5 in the morning for the last 20 years ? There is life outside the classic 9 to 5…

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    1. Fagstein Post author

      They will soon have a family fare also and are installing new technologies in the traffic lights to make sure that a bus that is a few seconds late on his schedule gets the green light.

      The STM also has family-friendly fares (kids under 12 ride free on weekends), and also has preferential measures at many traffic lights.

      the stale STM handcuffed by the ever power full unions running the joint…

      How is the STM handcuffed by its unions? What has it attempted to do that the unions have not let it do?

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  3. Karine76

    That is one of my annual pet peeves as well. I was the Old Port a couple of years ago for the NYE countdown and as soon as the fireworks were over, it was a mad dash to the metro station before it closed, with stressed out metro police and SPVM trying to do crowd control. I remember taking the metro at 3am at the Nuit Blanche and it was packed so clearly there would be a demand for it for special occasions. Someone needs to have a chat with Mr Schnob (whom I’ve seen taking the metro a few months before he was appointed chairman) about this.

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  4. Dilbert

    “This isn’t a complex problem to solve. It’s one night a year where a couple of extra hours of service would make a huge difference.”

    It is a huge problem though. It would require a number of different unions to agree to provide staff, to provide security, and the like. I can imagine as well that having the Metro (with no protection to the tracks) open for drunks would lead to any number of “service interruptions” as the scraped body parts off the tracks. It’s not all that simple.

    One day Montreal’s metro will join the real world with security windows / doors to keep people away from the tracks, Until then, opening the system up to tens of thousands of drunks would just be begging for problems.

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    1. Fagstein Post author

      It would require a number of different unions to agree to provide staff, to provide security, and the like.

      Why would this require union approval? And why would the unions turn down overtime?

      I can imagine as well that having the Metro (with no protection to the tracks) open for drunks would lead to any number of “service interruptions” as the scraped body parts off the tracks.

      Your imagination notwithstanding, the metro has been running all night for Nuit Blanche for years and I’m unaware of a single instance where a drunk person has stumbled onto the tracks. I also regularly take the metro just before it closes and can’t recall an instance when there’s been a service interruption for this reason.

      One day Montreal’s metro will join the real world with security windows / doors to keep people away from the tracks, Until then, opening the system up to tens of thousands of drunks would just be begging for problems.

      I guess it’s better for the drunks to drive home then?

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      1. Dilbert

        Nuit Blanche is rather different from New Year, both in volumes of people partying and the levels that people seem to go. More people wake up January 1st with a hangover than any other day, it seems. So the volume of drunk people would be quite high. Nuit Blanche is not in that same category (but yes, some people do get drunk). Lots of people get staggeringly shitfaced for new years, so it might be worse.

        Of course, you didn’t mention that the main transit point to point for nuit blanche are shuttle buses. But hey, that’s slant and that’s okay.

        “I guess it’s better for the drunks to drive home then?”

        Nobody said that, thanks for being snide. It would likely be better and safer to do everything with buses, much more visible and safer, without the problems of security and safety in the metro stations to deal with.

        As for the Unions, it would still be an issue. It’s not just a little overtime, that would be a whole slew of drivers and such on the road, plus the extra maintenance and support people required to make it all happen and still have enough people to serve the morning as well. They may find it quite hard to get a lot of drivers to give up their NYE time to drive drunks around.

        Hey, people can all take Uber. I hear it’s quite a steal on NYE.

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        1. Fagstein Post author

          Of course, you didn’t mention that the main transit point to point for nuit blanche are shuttle buses.

          I don’t know if that’s true. And even if it is, I don’t see how that relates to the possibility of all-night metro service.

          It would likely be better and safer to do everything with buses, much more visible and safer, without the problems of security and safety in the metro stations to deal with.

          If a horde of drunk people can stumble onto the tracks at a metro station, couldn’t they just as easily stumble in front of an approaching bus?

          As for the Unions, it would still be an issue. It’s not just a little overtime, that would be a whole slew of drivers and such on the road, plus the extra maintenance and support people required to make it all happen and still have enough people to serve the morning as well.

          I don’t see how that requires union approval. We’re talking about an additional 4-5 hours of service. Its cost would not be insignificant, which I think is why the STM isn’t doing it, but it’s hardly impossible. The unions are not the ones preventing this from happening.

          They may find it quite hard to get a lot of drivers to give up their NYE time to drive drunks around.

          But plenty of drivers do give up their New Year’s Eve. Every metro station is open at 12:00am on Jan. 1. The vast majority of regular buses are still on the road at or after midnight. Would so many of those employees so vigorously decline a few hours of overtime that this would be impossible? Even an extra hour? Even only every second metro station?

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          1. Dilbert

            Then again, the drunks could also be gored by rainbow unicorns. No doubt about it Steve, you are entirely right.

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    2. Marc

      One day Montreal’s metro will join the real world with security windows / doors to keep people away from the tracks

      Platform screen doors are out of the question for the Metro. They would cost an enormous fortune on top simply not blending in with station architecture. Priority is better service and more elevators. And by the way, not every drunk person ends up on the subway tracks. You seem to paintbrush all those who had one too many as dead people walking.

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      1. Dilbert

        Marc, in many places in the world, metro / subway systems have dividers or screen doors to both keep people off the track and to keep the heat from the tunnels out of the stations. They can also be half height systems that keep people from accidentally falling in, including protecting the blind, children, and of course that poor girl that died at the Monk station while texting.

        I don’t worry about the people who had one too many. I am more concerned with the people who have had MANY too many, and are shitfaced enough to do almost anything. Ever been in an all night McDonalds at 3AM? Drunks, fights, yelling, puking… and that’s just the staff (kidding!). Can you imagine the Metro like this? Want to pay for security in every car, on every platform, just to try to make it safe?

        Anyway, not to worry. First we have to come with with a way to protect people from the rainbow unicorns….

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        1. Fagstein Post author

          They can also be half height systems that keep people from accidentally falling in, including protecting the blind, children, and of course that poor girl that died at the Monk station while texting.

          FYI, she wasn’t texting. And the problem in that case — falling between metro cars — will be mitigated by the new trains being built that won’t have such gaps.

          There’s no doubt that doors on the platforms would make the system safer. But they would be very expensive (plus the fact that the number, size and location of the doors on the new trains are different than the current ones).

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  5. Warren

    Way back in the early 2000s (and surely before), when I was teen-twenty-something the STM (STCUM) had all night service on Metro on New Years; and even better, it was free. They would unlock the turnstiles and tape up the ticket slots and it was fair game. It was very useful and very appreciated.

    But then the STM decided to improve it’s service. And by improve, I mean do the exact opposite. It’s like they had a meeting (and continue to have such meetings) that go like this: “Doing XYZ will improve customer satisfaction and increase ridership.” … “Oh… so customers will enjoy using the service?” .. “yeah” .. “Then we’re not interested. That’s not our culture.”

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    1. Fagstein Post author

      Way back in the early 2000s (and surely before), when I was teen-twenty-something the STM (STCUM) had all night service on Metro on New Years

      They did it once, on Jan. 1, 2000.

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  6. telso

    I took the 356 westbound at St. Denis and Sherbrooke this NYE and two years ago around 2 a.m., and there were dozens of people waiting to get on just at that stop. Unsurprisingly, many people couldn’t get on. Walking backwards a stop worked (over half a km between St. Denis and the next stop at Lafontaine Park!), after which the bus, both years, left passengers at every stop with people waiting between St. Denis and Westmount, including Atwater, and didn’t stop at most stops, including some with 10-20 passengers each. Lots of people got into cabs, including some waiting at stops and some who might have used the bus if it was more frequent. Other stops on other routes looked similar.

    Passbys are annoying but acceptable on a bus line with 3-minute frequencies, like the 105 at rush hour, but it’s completely ridiculous on a 25-45 minute schedule. I bet if they ran all the night buses on 10-minute frequencies it would just barely satisfy current demand on NYE, but it would also encourage people who don’t even consider public transit that night to take the bus, meaning you might be running as frequently as a metro.

    I get the argument that day buses feed into the metro but night buses don’t so there would be some issues just running the metro and not the day buses, but public transit exists to provide service to the public when there’s demand for it, and there clearly is one here that’s not being met, and it’s not for a lack of vehicles or drivers. (Having worked with blue collar workers before, I guarantee there will be enough volunteers willing to accept the overtime and holiday pay.) With too few taxis and too few buses, people will drive on literally quite likely the worst night for drinking. Time to fix this, STM!

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  7. Apple IIGS

    I’ve complained about this particular issue many times in the past.

    Requesting the STM do this is not simply a gesture of good will, it is an obligation to public safety. How incredibly short sighted can this organization be to start shutting down subway and bus service just after midnight on New Year’s Eve? Even worse, charge FULL fare like it was any other night of the year. Why is it almost every other major city in Canada and the US offer free public transit, with long extended hours, but not the city of Montreal?

    All this does is vastly increase your chances of being injured or killed by a drunk driver in this city. I’m actually fearful of being on the roads or sidewalks after midnight in Montreal, solely because this backwards attitude of our public transit service.

    And as for fares, the STM seems to double up on handing out fines on New Year’s Eve. You know, just in case someone should get the idea public transit is free all across Canada. One New Year’s Eve at a metro terminus, I was greeted by a human chain of STM security guards blocking the exit. They were checking rider’s ticket validity. Two young woman visiting from out of town behind me were stopped and fined $500 + administration fees for tossing their paper ticket. The guards said you the rule is printed right on the ticket that you must keep it with you at all times. They responded that they didn’t understand French (yes, the printed disclaimer is in lingual French only) they were told, “You’re in Quebec, if you come here you are expected to understand French” so and fined them nonetheless. Doubt they’ll want to visit here again. Certainly ignorance of rules should not be an excuse, but at least write out those rules in both Canada’s official languages.

    What can be said, I am not surprised about their apathy on public safety on New Year’s Eve. Considering how many examples of corruption, carelessness, incompetence and racial profiling this organization repeatedly commits that is. They’ve become a shinning example of everything that is wrong with this province. Perhaps they should be renamed the “STQ” — Société de Transport de Québéc? Sorry to rant, but it really, really irks me that we’re in 2016 and there is still no accommodation by our public transit system for helping to get impaired drivers off the road on New Year’s Eve.

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    1. Fagstein Post author

      Considering how many examples of corruption, carelessness, incompetence and racial profiling this organization repeatedly commits that is.

      I’m unaware of any corruption scandals involving the STM. Can you give examples? As for the rest, which affect individual front-line employees, I haven’t seen a number of examples high enough to give me pause.

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      1. Apple IIGS

        I’m unaware of any corruption scandals involving the STM. Can you give examples? As for the rest, which affect individual front-line employees, I haven’t seen a number of examples high enough to give me pause.

        Let’s start with salaries paid to people in management positions at the STM. Director-general Carl Desrosiers set his salary to just above the same level as the prime minister of Canada. Then there are issues where all the top executives at the STM have continually raised their own salaries while at the same time, cutting back on very basic and fundamental services.

        http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/stm-paid-top-executive-salary-twice-in-2015-due-to-severance-package

        http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/stm-top-execs-got-average-of-5-in-salary-raises-last-year-1.2696655

        I would also call out “corruption” when staff members of the STM commit acts of violence or hate crimes and go completely unpunished (e.g. woman who was put into a headlock and repeated punched by a ticket booth taker for speaking English, driver who threw everyone off the bus and called the police because a passenger asked what time it was…in English. Ticket booth workers who told a priest they do not serve English persons. Villa Maria booth worker who repeatedly put up a political and highly offensive sign that read “Au Quebec, c’est en Francais que se passe!”). Or maybe it’s a corrupt union at fault that protects them from management?

        http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/montreal+m%C3%A9tro+worker+face+assault+charge+language+incident/7470155/story.html

        As for other acts by STM security staff, I can practically publish a book of horror stories.

        http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/The-Suburban/thesuburban_march3_2010/2010030301/#0

        http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/human-rights-complaint-over-montreal-girl-forced-off-bus-1.1281664

        http://www.ottawacitizen.com/metro+racial+profiling/2594435/story.html

        http://www.crarr.org/?q=node/19414

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        1. Fagstein Post author

          Let’s start with salaries paid to people in management positions at the STM.

          Executive pay not being middle class enough for you isn’t corruption.

          Then there are issues where all the top executives at the STM have continually raised their own salaries while at the same time, cutting back on very basic and fundamental services.

          Since the STM is still operating, I’m guessing the “basic and fundamental services” you think they’ve cut are not so basic nor fundamental. Also, while executive salary has increased at the STM (so have everyone else’s salaries), executive pay has decreased because there are fewer executives.

          I would also call out “corruption” when staff members of the STM commit acts of violence or hate crimes and go completely unpunished

          Since employee discipline is confidential, you don’t know that these actions have gone completely unpunished. And insufficient discipline of employees is not corruption, unless you are aware of a case where someone was bribed to look the other way.

          Or maybe it’s a corrupt union at fault that protects them from management?

          A union aggressively defending a member in a disciplinary proceeding is not corruption.

          As for other acts by STM security staff, I can practically publish a book of horror stories.

          As you could about just about any police force when people are unhappy about a ticket they’ve received or how they’re treated when they get aggressive about defending their position. I’m not saying the STM’s security staff (many of whom have since been replaced by Montreal police officers) are perfect, but I don’t think the number of complaints we’ve heard are so much higher than the norm for a force of that size.

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          1. Apple IIGS

            You certainly like to play devil’s advocate, don’t you. ;)

            Don’t take me wrong, I enjoy your postings and generally respect your point of view, but even in the face of glaring facts and evidence you still seem to take the side of the offending party. Be it the STM, the CRTC, the Quebec government, Bell Canada or other organizations that are committing injustices, you’d almost think you’re their PR guy. Sure it’s not all black and white, but there are times where there is no denying what the facts point to.

            With regards to executive pay, can you name me another head of a transit authority whom makes more than the Canadian Prime Minister? AND where at the same time said organization claims to be in a budget crisis? This is not corruption? Need I remind you the STM is a PUBLIC company designed to serve the public, not a Microsoft or Apple making money for shareholders and top executives.

            I’d also like to hear about any transit organization in the world that routinely targets and assaults customers (verbally and physically!) for speaking a specific language. The fact that these incidents are so common place and have been increasing over the years (rather than stopped dead in their tracks) shows exactly what kind of “discipline” takes place behind closed doors. If I didn’t know any better, I would think the STM turns a blind eye.

            Racial profiling and physical assaults are far from isolated, there is a pretty clear pattern going on. Read the last article from crarr.org as an example. I’m not saying this kind of thing couldn’t happen elsewhere, but what I am saying is the number and frequency of offenses with Montreal’s STM is quite disturbing. What’s more disturbing is the STM seems to constantly shrug it off and apathetic about what’s going on. In essence it is condoning these actions by saying or doing little or nothing. That too, is corruption. At least in my eyes.

            And so, getting back on topic. If an organization is apathetic about routine verbal and physical assaults against its own customers, I can’t imagine public safety (re: drunk drivers on New Year’s Eve) being on its radar list of concerns.

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            1. Fagstein Post author

              even in the face of glaring facts and evidence you still seem to take the side of the offending party.

              I’m not taking the side of the other party. I’m challenging people who assert facts that have no supporting evidence. The assertion that the STM is corrupt has come with no supporting evidence, and the assertion that STM front-line staff is racist or evil is based on anecdotal evidence only.

              And if you think I’m acting like the STM’s PR guy, I’d suggest you re-read the post at the top of this page.

              With regards to executive pay, can you name me another head of a transit authority whom makes more than the Canadian Prime Minister?

              Let’s see. The Prime Minister of Canada makes $167,400, plus an identical amount as an MP, for $334,800 total, not including the car allowance and other perks.

              The CEO at Los Angeles Metro authority makes slightly more than that (and it’s in U.S. dollars). In Washington, D.C., it’s $350,000 for the general manager. In Boston, it’s lower, at $220,000.

              In Canada, The CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission makes slightly less than that, about $295,000. The former CEO of Translink in Vancouver made way more than that, at $422,407. Comparisons with smaller Canadian cities might not be fair because they only have bus networks, no subway systems.

              So yeah, there’s a few. But I’m not arguing that the STM general manager’s salary isn’t high. I’m arguing that it isn’t evidence of corruption.

              I’d also like to hear about any transit organization in the world that routinely targets and assaults customers (verbally and physically!) for speaking a specific language.

              I’ve heard nothing beyond anecdotal evidence that the STM “routinely targets and assaults customers”. I think if it was routine we’d be hearing a lot more stories.

              The fact that these incidents are so common place and have been increasing over the years

              I’ve seen no evidence that the number of incidents has increased over the years.

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    2. Marc

      Certainly ignorance of rules should not be an excuse, but at least write out those rules in both Canada’s official languages.

      The STM is not a federal agency and is therefore not subject to the federal official languages act.

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      1. Apple IIGS

        The STM is not a federal agency and is therefore not subject to the federal official languages act.

        **W h o c a r e s** . It is about common courtesy, respect and in some cases, even safety. The law permits bilingual tickets, so why not do it? Is there a detriment to having both French and English print appear on STM tickets?

        Might also be helpful towards making Montreal tourist friendly.

        Reply

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