To complete my public-transit-in-the-news trifecta, The Gazette’s Henry Aubin has some suggestions about how the STM can help improve the network cheaply, based on readers’ comments:
- The MTC should do more to ensure that buses don’t reach bus stops well before their scheduled arrival time: That all depends on what “do more” means. Inspectors check after buses at busy stops to make sure they’re all on time. Individual buses are supposed to keep to their schedules, and in some cases will take breaks in order to keep from moving on too early. But it’s unrealistic to expect an hour-long bus route to be accurate to within one minute at all stops. A simple traffic light or two would be enough to put them off schedule (and often it does).
- More posted bus schedules would be handy. No schedules are posted for six to eight bus stops on some routes. What routes? I’ve never seen that many stops between posted schedules. And aside from the fact that every bus stop in the network has a code you can use to call using a cellphone and find out when the next bus comes, the STM has added schedules (and maps) to most of its shelters, as well as stand-alone schedules to many stops. That number is increasing, but there are many less-used stops that don’t have schedules posted.
- More generous hours for bringing bicycles on the métro would help certain commuters. Sure, but at the expense of others. The STM limits bicycles on the metro during rush hours and events (such as the fireworks) when the system is too crowded to support them safely. When the network has to choose between allowing a bike on a train or letting three or four people board, it will go with the people.
- The MTC could do more to synchronize the routes. Again, what does “do more” mean here? Synchronizing routes sounds very simple, but it’s extremely complicated. Each bus will connect with maybe dozens of others. They can’t all be synchronized in every direction so that every transfer has a minimum wait time. There are some specific areas where individual routes’ schedules could be improved for better synchronization (the 371 and 382 is a personal pet peeve of mine – a delay of a minute over a half-hour route can mean the difference between zero wait time and an hour in a dark outdoor terminus in the middle of the night), but in most cases they do they best they can.
- Fewer routes should be part of the Fairview Mall hub-and-spoke system; more should be either east-west or north-south, with transfer-friendly co-ordination between them. The STM has already agreed with this and is transitioning away from the hub-and-spoke system for the West Island. I don’t necessarily agree – I like the idea of a terminal where you can switch from any line to any line, but I guess I’m missing something.
- As well, some heavily used routes could cut travel time by avoiding meanderings that benefit relatively few people – the 211 bus’s deviation onto small Dorval streets, for example. I always found that deviation a bit odd, but it does serve the mall at Dorval circle. And the rush-hour 221 skips it for people in a rush. But sure, go ahead and change that.
- Other routes could be eliminated entirely, with the resulting savings plowed into new routes or into more frequent service on existing routes (such as) keeping only the 202 and reconfiguring it (to eliminate the 203). The 200 and 205 could be killed. (Notice a West Island bias here?) Well, the 203 is currently the only bus serving Lakeshore General Hospital, so I hope that would be part of the reconfiguration. The 200 is the only bus between Fairview and Ste. Anne de Bellevue on the weekend, but I wouldn’t cry if it disappeared (it doesn’t run after 7pm right now anyway). As for the 205, it is the only bus serving the rather large Rive Boisée area of Pierrefonds. Without it, people would have to walk up to 1,500 metres to the closest bus stop.
But hey, that’s just my opinion.