STM offers bus schedules by text message

There’s been no press release yet, but the STM has quietly launched two new systems to get bus schedules on mobile devices, and recently unveiled it to employees, Fagstein has learned.

UPDATE (July 14): The STM launched both services today as a six-month pilot project.


The first is by text message. Send a message to 52786 (which works out to “LA-STM”) with the bus route number followed by the stop code and you’ll get one back with the next three departure times for that bus. So, for example, to find out the times for the next 80 bus northbound at the Place des Arts metro station (stop #52552), text “8052552”, and you’ll get a message like this:

Stop 52552 (07/03/09) Line 80: 21:52, 21:59, 22:06.

The first time you use the service, it will ask you whether you want it in English or French by texting “E” or “F”.

The second method is through a new mobile website at A simply-designed page asks you to input a stop code and route number (or just the route number so you can search for the code), and spits out the time of the next three arrivals. There are also bare-bones pages with fare information and metro closing times.

This isn’t the first time that someone thought to make it easier for mobile users to get bus times (outside of the AUTOBUS voice-menu system). There’s the STM Mobile iPhone application, mobile-friendly site and this site which mashes up with Google Maps. There’s also, of course, Google Maps itself, which has had Montreal-area bus schedule information since October. The STM told The Gazette’s Roberto Rocha in August that it was planning something similar “in the fall”, but it seems they’ve been a bit behind schedule.

UPDATE (July 5): Some linklove from Rue Frontenac and a citation from Agence QMI. Amusingly, both invent new examples to use, QMI’s in the more francophone area of the Joliette metro. The QMI piece is also on Page 3 of 24 Heures of July 6:

24 Heures, July 6, 2009, Page 3

24 Heures, July 6, 2009, Page 3

UPDATE (July 14): More coverage from The Gazette, Metro, Technaute and Canoe (again) after the system was officially announced.

24 thoughts on “STM offers bus schedules by text message

  1. Philippe-A

    Wait… so for your example, that would be texting : 527868052552 ? Do I put 514 … This is really, REALLY awesome, but I’m not sure I understand what I need to do.

  2. Marc

    Tried the mobile site on my iPod Touch – not bad at all. I also have the STM mobile app which is nice. Though they’re slightly more useful on an iPhone since wifi coverage isn’t as good.

  3. dan

    i’m pretty jealous that i don’t have a cell after reading about this. it would be a welcome change to not have to navigate through the labyrinth of menus on 514-AUTOBUS.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      You can preprogram your cellphone to bypass those menus. 811 will send you to the “enter bus stop code” menu to get the next three departures. Or you can program the whole thing together for stops you want to check often. 514-2876287-(pause)-811-(bus stop code)#(route number)#

  4. Alex T.

    I texted 6460290 to 52786 about 10 minutes ago and haven’t yet received a response. When this works, this is going to be great, even though I already use the STM Mobile App on my iPhone!

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Just tested it again and it responds instantaneously (within two seconds). If you screw up the code it tells you so or says there’s no data for that stop.

  5. Anthony Di Domizio

    I have had the Iphone app for a few months now and I think it may be the best 99 cents I ever spent

  6. Daniel Haran

    Citizens still can’t get the data Google gets for free. We’re still subsidizing a foreign corporation against local players.

    Hopefully this web service will allow a large number of requests so someone can build a real-time trip planner.

  7. Karine

    I tried it and it works thanks. And it worked fine when I left a gap between the bus route and bus code like this: 108 12345.

    Now what the STM needs to do is either vie twitter or a service like this, give you an update on metro conditions.

  8. Eric


    What if I have a 3 digit bus number?

    I tried looking for the bus 218 with the code 58373.

    I sent 21858373, it doesn’t work. I don’t even get a response.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      It should work with two or three-digit bus numbers. If you don’t get a response, it’s probably because the system isn’t online. Keep in mind it hasn’t been announced yet, so it may still be under testing.

  9. Alex T.

    218 is also a rush hour bus. Based on the time you posted, you texted at around noon.

    I just texted 20857906 and got a response right away.

  10. Eric

    Oh well,
    I actually did receive the text, only after an hour.

    But anyways, I am having mixed results with the SMS service.
    I can send 3-4 in about 15 minutes, and some of them come back quickly, some of them take an hour to come back :S

  11. eve

    sent a message last night around 10 pm. No response. But today I have received 17 text messages from them already sending me the last night schedule. Is there away to stop this text attack? Anyone knows??


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *