AMT ends paper tickets on commuter trains

Opus card validator at Central Station

Opus card validator at Central Station

The AMT has issued notices to users of its five commuter train lines that it will be ending the use of paper tickets this month. Saint-Hilaire and Candiac riders get cut off on Friday April 17 and Blainville, Deux-Montagnes and Dorion users get cut off on the 24th.

This move is part of the metropolitan area’s move from paper and magnetic-strip based fare systems to the new Opus smart card, whose long phasing-in process is expected to be complete in June.

As of the dates above:

  • Monthly train-only passes (which are only available for Zones 4-7) will no longer be issued in paper form
  • Ticket machines will no longer issue single-fare paper tickets
  • Six-packs of train tickets in paper format will no longer be sold (even though the vending machines they use to sell them are barely five years old)
  • Paper ticket validation machines will be removed from service

That leaves commuters with three options:

What’s not clear here is what option there is for someone who just wants to take one ride on a train. Unless the Solo card is available in single-use format (which would be a huge waste), tourists who want to explore the city using its public transit system will be forced to purchase an Opus card or get more tickets than they need.

I’m hoping I’m mistaken.

17 thoughts on “AMT ends paper tickets on commuter trains

  1. Alex T.

    Single use tickets are available in SOLO format (which I agree is a huge waste, but not more than the current ticket situation) from every station on every line.

    The same big machines you see at metro stations are also at every train station and allow for:

    * The purchase of 1 or 6 tickets on a SOLO Card
    * Loading of 1 or 6 tickets on an OPUS card
    * Loading of at least the Home Zone’s monthly TRAM or TRAIN pass on an OPUS Card
    * Optionally offer additional zone’s monthny TRAM or TRAIN pass on an OPUS Card

    Additionally, anyone wanting to use the system at a reduced rate already had (or should have) an OPUS Card. They MUST use their OPUS card to benefit from reduced rate train tickets.

    And, there’s no more tarif combiné (the combined fare option that allowed a user with a bus/metro transfer to ride the train simply by paying the difference). To make up for it, TRAM 1, 2 and 3 TICKETS loaded onto an OPUS or SOLO card will work when boarding an STM bus or metro.

    I hope this clarifies!

  2. Dumitru Erhan

    Two comments:

    (1) I can bet that AMT trains are not exactly popular with tourists and the change-over to the OPUS system won’t affect said tourists at all. As a Montrealer, I barely use the trains at all, even though I live right next to one of the stations. And the reason is very simple – the trains are so infrequent, especially on week-ends (4 times a day on Sundays), that I just can’t be bothered. Who wants to be stranded in Blainville for hours if one misses their train back? Certainly not tourists.

    (2) (slightly off-topic) I live next to the (Town of) Mont-Royal train station which has a swanky & shiny OPUS “vending machine”. But silly me, since I only use STM and have a regular CAM loaded on my card, I cannot refill it at that machine (only TRAM/TRAIN and single/ten-pack tickets are sold in there). Why such an arbitrary limitation? That vending machine is basically the only place to refill the OPUS card in a 2km radius and it’s an annoyance that all those 165/535 bus ridders like me cannot buy STM passes in there…

  3. Bill_the_Bear

    Dumitru brings up a good point in his (2). I live downtown, near several métro stations, so I have no trouble recharging my OPUS card, but not everyone is so lucky.

    One advantage of the old CAM card was that it could be bought in many outlets outside the STM network, such as drugstores and dépanneurs.

    I seem to remember hearing somewhere that Jean Coutu was supposed to be installing OPUS machines. Does anybody know anything about this?

  4. Alex T.

    @Dumitru Erhan
    You mention living near Mont-Royal train station. Just a nitpick as there are 6 trains on Sunday, not 4.

    Abount being stuck in Blainville: The Blainville train station happens to be next to one of the, if not the, most frequent bus route in the Greater Montreal Area outside the STM/RTL. No one can say they’re “stranded” at Blainville.

    I do agree with you that train station OPUS machines should be able to sell the transit tickets / passes of the transit authority nearby (in your case, the STM). Don’t get me started on the bickering between the STM and the AMT (the the STM/STL, STM/RTL, STM/CITSO, the list goes on).

    I personally prefer the 9 minute train ride downtown from TMR then the 45 minute bus ride on the 165/535!

  5. Jean Naimard

    One thing that bothers me, a while back, I regularly (like 4-5 times/month) went to a place in zone 2 on one train line, and another in zone 4 on another train line. I just purchased two different booklets and all was well.

    What would someone with an Opus card do? Can you load zone 2 and zone 4 tickets on the card? If so, fine, but how does the “card reader” (the buzzing machine) validator know where I am going when I board the train downtown? Or do I have to purcha$e another Opus card?

    Ouate de phoque???

  6. Alex T.

    Simply put Jean, you can’t.

    It depends what this OPUS card user already has on their card. If they have a monthly TRAM pass they can load a higher zone, but that ticket can only be used in the zone it’s valid (in other words, for inbound trips only). For outbound trips, if you’re at the machine it will find your monthly TRAM pass first.

    For CAM users it’s quite simple for the first loaded zone. Any additional zones need to be added with SOLO tickets.

    For the occasional (ticket) user is where it becomes complicated. Because a Zone 1, 2 and 3 TRAM-TICKET is valid on an STM bus / train, someone who already has STM bus tickets (which are cheaper, of course) is not able to load Zone 1, 2 and 3 TRAM tickets onto an OPUS card. They’re OK for TRAM 4, 5, 6, and 7. The occasional user needs to by Individual SOLO (or OPUS cards) for each Zone (1, 2 and 3) that they want to use.

    Ouate de phoque is right!

  7. NewMontrealer

    I’m not sure if you can trust the list of sale locations at the OPUS website; a few months ago I tried to fill up my card at a Pharmaprix that was on their list (6411 Sherbrooke, still listed) and they could only sell me a paper pass.

  8. Alex T.

    If you tried to fill up prior to December it may not have worked as some weren’t set up. Try the Pharmaprix again, they should have it now.

  9. ladyjaye

    I just took the Dorion line on Thursday to visit my family for Easter, and I had to scramble figuring out what to do to add a single fare on my OPUS card. I did manage to add the fare and did pass my card on the reader before exiting Lucien L’allier, but since it didn’t issue a receipt, I was hoping that if there was a controller passing by, that he’d have an OPUS machine to check that my fare was paid — all I had was my Interac receipt for the fare. Finally, no controller passed by, but still — I really didn’t want to end up with a $100 fine (or whatever it is nowadays when you’re caught riding the train without their definition of a valid fare). Man, I miss the days when the controller would actually accept your cash and issue an old-school correspondance with the punched date and destination…

  10. Jean Naimard

    I did manage to add the fare and did pass my card on the reader before exiting Lucien L’allier, but since it didn’t issue a receipt, I was hoping that if there was a controller passing by, that he’d have an OPUS machine to check that my fare was paid — all I had was my Interac receipt for the fare.

    The user-interface on those machines is terminally moronic. First, you have to lookup on the map or the schedule which zone is the station you want to go, then you have to tell the machine you want a ticket for that zone. The machine won’t ask which station you go. Noooo. That would take too many CPU cycles from Windoze that runs the eye-candy on the screen, and that would also killed too many of the few neurons the developpers have left.
    In Europe (I know, we’re not in Europe. Here, we’re in North-America, where the morons rule), the ticket machines ask you where do you want to go, you don’t have to kill the few neurons you have left to figure out which fare you have.

  11. Tom M.

    I purchased a $16.00, 6 ticket SOLO “carnet” today for the first time and I can’t see any clear instructions how I’m supposed to use the @#$% thing. Assuming I’m supposed to wave it in front of the magic blue machine at the train station, what happens next? How will I know the next time I use it (2 months from now) when I can’t remember how many trips are left on it? Does it turn a different colour, speak to me, or play music? How will I know how much time I have left in my 120 minutes. October to March I take the train EVERY weekday and the lack of information during that time on the introduction of the new technology was sad. The 6 ticket paper system was clear and visible that your ticket was validated by the machine. One step forward two steps back!

  12. Alex T.

    It’s much easier than you’ve described. First yes you need to wave your SOLO carnet in front of the above pictured machine. After that, DO NOTHING! You bought the $16.00 (Zone 1) SOLO card, so you can use the same card on the bus/metro. You can even use your SOLO card on the bus/metro first if that’s the first leg of your journey. You can check how many tickets you have left by:

    a) waving it in front of the reader before you get on (it will deduct one fare and say the number remaining)
    b) insert into the big machines at any station (it will say how much is left without deducting a fare)

  13. Jocelyn Green

    I have in my possession 5 tickets from 2009.
    The old AMT tickets.
    Upon submission will I be re-embursed for these

    Thank You

    1. Alex T.

      There shouldn’t be any problem getting refunded for these tickets. You may have to buy new tickets at the current price.
      You should go Central Station, Lucien L’Allier or any metropolitan terminus (with an ticket booth) for more info.

  14. matt

    i just recently started talking the train and i purchase 6 solo ticket thingy’s at a time but when i try to scan it on the blue machine thingy it makes a noise as if to confirm that it has scanned my card but the light doesnt turn red or green.. ive been told if you have tickets it turn green and says accepted and if you dont it turn red and says not accepted.. but i keep getting neither. Is there a special way to scan these things? i just press my car up against the machine but some comments above mention you should wave it? is that the trick?


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