TRAM 3 at Longueuil: Right decision for the wrong reason

This morning, apparently, the Montreal Metropolitan Community (which coordinates issues affecting Montreal and its suburbs) decided that, beginning in July, the Longueuil metro station would be subjected to the same fare rules as those in Laval: Montreal passes would not be accepted, and users would instead need a TRAM 3 multi-zone pass to enter the station.

The news came out not through the STM or the MMC, but via Longueuil mayor Caroline St-Hilaire, who sent out a press release expressing her outrage:

“Je ne peux pas et je ne vais pas cautionner ça!”, a déclaré Caroline St-Hilaire, en indiquant que toutes les dispositions nécessaires seront prises pour que l’entente signée et valide jusqu’en décembre 2011 soit respectée.

This led to stories at Radio-CanadaCyberpresse and Rue Frontenac, which follow the narrative St-Hilaire has created. Metro goes a bit further, adding that about a quarter of people who use the Longueuil metro use the $70 CAM instead of the $111 TRAM 3. (UPDATE: The STM’s Odile Paradis says it’s more like 15% of users, or 3,000 to 4,000 people.) The TRAM 3 gives access to the Réseau de transport de Longueuil bus network and the Agence métropolitaine de transport’s commuter trains in Longueuil.

Why this change? Well, it makes sense, especially considering what’s going on in Laval. The AMT has established zones for transit that crosses into multiple territories, and Longueuil is clearly in Zone 3. The fact that it accepts CAMs just like the rest of the STM network is more historical than anything. That’s just the way it’s been.

Even St-Hilaire accepted, it seems, that this would eventually change after 2011. But she’s mad that Montreal and the STM appear to have gone back on their word and is doing this ahead of schedule.

(The Parti Québécois, meanwhile, jumps on an opportunity to pander to suburban voters and demands that government step in to not only reverse the decision but to reduce the fares for Laval users as well.)

This is happening, St-Hilaire says, because of Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, who is refusing to pay for Laval’s share of the taxpayer cost of the metro because he feels his city is being discriminated against. So he decided to take the transit system hostage until Montreal acquiesced to his demand that Longueuil be treated the same as the Laval stations.

Ironically, while this decision would theoretically mean that Laval will start paying its share, the release also says that Longueuil will refuse to pay its share for the metro until further notice.

Vaillancourt, meanwhile, says his city will now start paying its share of the STM’s metro deficit, but it won’t pay retroactively for the years that Laval paid more and Longueuil paid less.

This is absolutely ridiculous. These mayors are all acting like children, and apparently no adult is either able or willing to step in. Instead of suing Laval so the city lives up to its contract, or having the provincial government step in and order them to respect their agreement, everyone is acting as if Vaillancourt has a legitimate bargaining chip in his hand and is bending over.

Can I start refusing to hand over tax money until I get free pizza delivered to my apartment?

Still a good idea

If St-Hilaire is right and there is an agreement until 2011, then the decision should be overturned and postponed until then. But requiring a TRAM 3 pass at Longueuil just makes sense.

The people who will be affected by the change are people who don’t use the RTL bus network, either because they live near the metro station (a tiny minority) or because they drive to it in their cars. We’re talking about 3-4,000 people, including those who park in the 2,370 parking spaces outside the Longueuil metro. And to park there, they have to pay about $100 a month in parking fees. In other words, if they’re taking the bus from home and using a TRAM 3, they will pay significantly less ($111) than they did parking at the Longueuil metro and using a CAM to get into the station ($170). Less convenient, but cheaper.

Perhaps there’s a group of people I haven’t considered who would be driven into bankruptcy by this decision, but I can’t imagine they will be a large number.

Of course, St-Hilaire loses nothing by taking the stand she takes. Longueuil people like to use their cars, and they like not having to pay for things if they can get away with it. Just like everyone else.

It’s time for Longueuil to realize that it is a suburb, and transit is more expensive there because of that. And it’s time for politicians in all three cities to realize that holding your breath and screaming “NO NO NO!” is not a valid negotiation tactic.

At least, I desperately hope it’s not.

UPDATE (Feb. 5): Nathalie Collard of La Presse agrees that this is silly, as does Projet Montréal, which suggests reducing the number of trains going to Laval and Longueuil.

La Presse also has a vox pop on the subject, and you can imagine what the opinion of the populace is.

UPDATE (Feb. 10): A Facebook group has started up.

62 thoughts on “TRAM 3 at Longueuil: Right decision for the wrong reason

  1. John

    I use carpooling quite frequently to get between Lennoxville and Montreal, and more often than not I get dropped off at the Longueuil. This means that I will have to now fork over additional money on top of my CAM to get home on the island of Montreal. Kind of sucks for me.

    1. emdx

      Not really. With your zone 3 pass, you could get-off at Chevrier (right after highway 30) and take the “van-houleuse” which zips through expressly against the traffic to downtown. You will easily shave 30 minutes from your trip time.

      Or you could also take the commuter train from Bruno Jct, St-Hubert or St-Lambert and totally bypass the traffic from there.

  2. MTLskyline

    This is outrageous! Have you ever actually been to Longueuil???

    First, I am one of the “tiny minority” of people who resides within walking distance of the Longueuil Metro. Since the opening of the Montreal Metro system, the city of Longueuil itself, was served by Montreal transit (buses too) only until recently. I have never driven to the Metro in my life. As a matter of fact, Laval residents get free Metro parking. South Shore residents have to pay $100 a month to park (as you mentioned). If they are going to charge people who only use the metro $111 a month, then make parking free at least!

    Second, Longueuil is actually a lot more densely populated than Laval (and most of Montreal island). The borough of Vieux-Longueuil has 3,018.6 people per square kilometer. That makes it more densely populated than the cities of Laval (of course), Town of Mount Royal, and pretty much the entire West Island (except for DDO). Vieux-Longueuil is also more dense than the Montreal boroughs of Saint-Laurent, Anjou, Lachine, Pierrefonds-Roxboro and L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève. You can look it up if you don’t believe me.

    Third, Longueuil is the closest “suburb” to downtown (well except for St. Lambert – which is also in Zone 3….). Look on a map! It is MUCH closer than the demerged West Island municipalities for instance. And they can buy CAM passes. Hell, its even closer to downtown Montreal than a good chunk of the city of Montreal! It is ridiculous to jump from Zone 1 on one side of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge to Zone 3 on the other side!

    Fourth, Longueuil has one station. It was opened in 1967. Laval has three, and they were opened in 2007. Longueuil users have to pay the same as Laval users for worse service??? And as I mentionned earlier, Longueuil is much more densely populated than Laval. I would actually accept paying more if I was served by more than one station on the south shore. But we’re not! Not to mention that the western half of the south shore is ignored (Brossard, Greenfield Park and St. Hubert). And the western half of the south shore is still more densely populated than Laval. Which has 3 stations.

    Fifth, Longueuil users already use their own transit system much more than Laval users do. 32,234,951 rode on RTL buses in 2008. 20.1 million rode on Laval buses. (both systems serve around the same population of people – roughly speaking) The RTL is actually the second most used transit system in the province of Quebec after the STM. (Look it up) In fact, the RTL is used more than most transit systems in Canada by quite a margin. They aren’t nearly as car-crazy as Laval residents or West Islanders.

    Sixth, Longueuil, on average, is much poorer than Laval. Laval might be comparable to Brossard, but Longueuil is more comparable to east end Montreal. If you’ve ever been to Longueuil you would know that $40 a month extra will hurt a lot of these people.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      1. You’re in that minority that will be affected then, unfortunately. Making parking free might sound good, but that will make it more difficult to find spaces, resulting in chaos.

      2. Comparisons with the West Island make sense, but remember that (a) much of the West Island is also in Zone 3, (b) the West Island doesn’t have metro service, and (c) the West Island is part of the Montreal agglomeration, and its taxes pay for the STM. If Longueuil wanted to join the city of Montreal and merge the RTL with the STM, then I’d argue it has the right to pay the same rate as everyone on the island.

      3. The STM’s rates, unlike the AMT’s, are not based on a notion of “downtown” – the entire island gets the same rate. That’s probably going to change eventually (which is why the STM has moved to a proof-of-payment system), but for now someone in Ste. Anne de Bellevue is treated the same as someone on the Plateau.

      4. Like I said, history is a big argument for having the price the way it is. And does having one metro station instead of three really mean “worse service”?

      5. I’m not sure how RTL service numbers relate to this discussion. If anything, people using the RTL buses more shows how few people would be affected by this.

      6. Statistics I’ve seen has put Longueuil at or above the Quebec average for household income. That doesn’t necessarily negate the point (the numbers are similar to the Montreal city average), but I don’t know if I’d qualify Longueuil as “much poorer” than Montreal or Laval.

      Finally, I’ll point out that nobody seems to have a problem with the fact that Longueuil train stations are in Zone 3, or that only a Zone 3 pass allows travel on both the STM and RTL networks.

      The border has to be somewhere. The city limits on the St. Lawrence seems as good an idea as any.

      1. MTLskyline

        1. You have to admit that it doesn’t encourage public transit use among the people who live within walking (or biking) distance of the metro. I would seriously consider driving to Panama terminus in Brossard and taking the RTL bus downtown in order to avoid paying for two zones.

        2. I’ll admit it does suck for people in the West Island that the Metro doesn’t go west of Angrignon. I hope that one day, all the metropolitan transit agencies are combined, because the fare structure is ridiculous at the moment. It should be based on distance, not arbitrary municipal boundaries (or even rivers).

        3. Being a student, if I lived on Montreal island, I would pay only $38.75 to use the Metro. Since I live on the south shore, the student pass for the STM is not available for me as it is. Now they want to force me to buy a TRAM 3 pass which will cost me $89 I believe (while people over 25 get the full $41 increase). I wonder how long it takes to walk to Jean-Drapeau station from Longueuil?

        4. Well it is worse service because residents of Laval has much better access. Someone who lives any significant distance away has no choice but to drive (or take the bus) to get there. Laval meanwhile, with its 3 stations, serves its population better, even though Laval has about half the population density of Vieux-Longueuil.

        5. That’s the point. There are “so few” people who use just the Metro (and not the RTL buses), that the STM will not be any better off for it (especially since Longueuil is refusing to pay its share of debt now. The STM will come out of this at a loss, that’s for sure).

        6. Well, Longueuil gets inflated a little bit by the richer areas near Boucherville, and in some parts of St. Hubert. But by and large, Longueuil is a poorer city. Especially in the vicinity of the metro (aka the people who walk and will be forced to shell out $40 a month more). It’s like an extension of east-end Montreal.

        Well, that’s the way these train stations have always been. And most people at the closer stations (St. Lambert and St. Hubert) don’t use the train at all (unlike the North Shore or West Island where it is more heavily used).

        There should be no discriminatory pricing in the metro system. Distance is distance.

        1. Metro_User

          Discrimination: means treat a minority of people differently.
          That is what the STM did. Cannot believe someone even pray it is a “Right decision for the wrong reason”. sanctimonious

  3. MTLskyline

    Also, where did you come up with your number of 2,370 people? Longueuil–Université-de-Sherbrooke is the fifth most used station in the network. It had 7,391,727 passengers in 2008. That averages to 20,251 people a day. 25% of which don’t use the RTL: 5,063 people. Expect that number to increase significantly, as more and more Montreal residents attending Université de Sherbrooke’s campus in Longueuil will use the metro to get there (but not the RTL buses). Not to mention, the biggest residential project in Quebec is under construction near the Metro: a 26 floor condo building. Guess what the advantage of living there is???

    1. Fagstein Post author

      2,370 is the number of parking spaces around the Longueuil metro.

      Your number of 7 million passages a year is correct, but remember that people go to and from work, so that’s an average of 10,125 return trips a day (not counting the fact that there are more people travelling on weekdays as on weekends).

      From there, apply Metro’s estimate that 75% of users have a TRAM 3 pass, and you get about 2,000 people who would be affected.

      1. MTLskyline

        Still though. That number is only going to increase (even though I strongly doubt that it is really only 2,000 people/day). The brand new university building built here will lure Montrealers. The 26-floor condo tower being built will bring in more metro-using (but probably not RTL-using) residents.

        And, when you think about it, this fair increase will only bring an extra $960,000 to the transit agencies per year. A lot less money then Longueuil will be withholding (it might be up to double that number) until we revert back to the same rate as we had before.

  4. Franc

    People seem to forget that Longueuil metro station used to not accept CAMs up until the mid-90s. That’s what I find weird! They changed the rule in, I believe, 1996, and now they are bringing it back .Or maybe that’s the agreement that St-Hilaire was talking about. A 15 year deal from ’96 to ’11.

    ould make more sense to remove that restriction in Laval, if you ask me! After all, it’s all the same metro.

  5. Bert

    It’s about time Gilles Vaillancourt does something worthwhile. Laval does not get equal service.

    Not every train does the run to Montmorency, just about every other one, at least during rush hour.

    What happens when the Momntmorency bound Metro goes down and we have to rely on the 31? (Like this past Monday?) Well, that 31 stops at Henri-Bourassa. Where do the Laval busses start? Cartier.

    Yeah, Laval gets free parking, if you show up before 6:30 or want to park in a mud pit. So for someone that starts work at 8:30, either you pay to park (6$ a day @ 22 days per month = 132$), or you go to work early and kill time.

    Hell, we even get the short end of the stick with the Saint Jérome, which detours 20 minutes around Loyola.

    South shore riders always have the option of leaving from 1000 de la Gauchetière.

    It’s about time my southern cousins pay thier part.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Not every train does the run to Montmorency, just about every other one, at least during rush hour.

      During rush hour, some trains stop at Henri-Bourassa. This is done because the garage is just beyond the Henri-Bourassa station and there isn’t enough headway between trains to manage the traffic with trains going to and from the garage. Outside of rush hour, all trains go to Montmorency.

      What happens when the Montmorency bound Metro goes down and we have to rely on the 31? (Like this past Monday?) Well, that 31 stops at Henri-Bourassa. Where do the Laval busses start? Cartier.

      Laval has buses that stop at Henri-Bourassa. In case of any prolonged service interruption, the STM puts special shuttles into service that follow the route of the metro. These buses would go all the way to Montmorency.

      Hell, we even get the short end of the stick with the Saint Jérome, which detours 20 minutes around Loyola.

      This is why the STM and AMT set up the 935 train bus, which shuttles people between the Parc station and downtown.

    2. MTLskyline

      How exactly is making people on the south shore pay more worthwhile? You’re still paying the same inflated rate aren’t you? Misery loves company, isn’t that right Bert?

    3. emdx

      Actually, there are far more people than forecasted that take the Métro to Laval, so they have turned the number of short-turns at Henri-Bourassa to less than 5 for the whole day.

  6. Charles Orme

    Caroline St-Hilaire’s press release says, incorrectly, that Longueuil–U-de-S is served by the oldest trains in the system. There are only two series of trains, the MR-63s, built in 1963, that serve the green line, and the MR-73s, built in 1973, that serve the orange, blue, and yes, the yellow line. The difference can be easily seen by looking for the electronic screens that show advertising and the next station, as well as the fact that the MR-73s make the famous three-note chime while the MR-63s do not (with one exception I’ve heard while riding).

      1. Fagstein Post author

        The yellow line can be (and has been) served by both kinds of trains. But in any case, who cares? Does the fact that the train dates from the 60s and not the 70s really make a difference in how much people from Longueuil should pay for it?

  7. Peter

    I live on the island and I work right next to Longueuil metro. I do not use the busses in Longueuil or go to Laval at all. This is a giant shaft for someone like me. An extra 500$ a year in transportation costs to pay for transportation I NEVER use is bullshit.

    Thanks Laval.

    1. emdx

      Ask for a raise. I would.

      Lucky you. Me, I live downtown and I have to haul my arse to the West-Island to scratch my living.

      I’d gladly pay the $40 more and shave 1 hour from my total commute (very often, the 211/212 just plainly **SUCKS**. And I won’t talk about the other bus I must take!).

    2. Caroline

      I am in the same situation. I live in Montreal and work within walking distance of Longueuil metro. This is a job I recently accepted at lower pay than my previous job. I figured that although my transit time would increase, at least the cost would stay the same. Now I see that I am looking at an additional $480 a year. I am seriously considering any and all alternatives to not paying this. What if I buy a CAM as usual, and use tickets to return home? Could I carpool? What about cycling in the summer?

      I am seriously pissed off that I am being forced to pay $480 extra for no extra benefit.

  8. Homer

    This might suck for a day or two, but the STM should just shut down Metro service to Laval and Longueil until their fair shares are paid. Let’s see how long Vaillancourt stays in power once the STM shuts down the metro with notices on the door that it’s being shut down for non-payment.

    Okay, so maybe that isn’t realistic, but Mr. Vaillancourt needs to be brought back down to earth. Starting to sound like a spoiled brat.

    1. soup

      I agree with that. If blue collar workers can deny Montreal residents service via their rotating strikes, then the STM should be able to cut service to Laval until they pay for their service.

  9. WorkingInLongueuil

    I am one of the unfortunate people who will be affected by the change. I’m a Montrealer who works in one of the office buildings at the Longueuil metro. And, as MTLskyline pointed out, many more Montrealers go to the University. We pay Montreal municipal taxes, which finance the STM, and this station has been part of the network since 1967, so a hike of 59% is completely unreasonable for us. You can’t justify that this station, out of the other 64 original metro stations, costs that much more to operate! If so, then also add a price hike to the Parc Jean Drapeau station! Unlike Laval, Longueuil WAS paying its share of the cost, so this was a really stupid move!

    1. MB

      Just a tiny correction, there were 26 original stations, not 64. When the metro opened, it went from:
      Atwater – Frontenac,
      Bonaventure – Henri-Bourassa, and
      Berri-de-Montagny – Longueuil.

  10. paul

    this is ridiculous … i don’t think the longueuil station should’ve been made into a tram 3 section anymore than laval’s stations …

    people that currently use the metro in longueuil and only purchase a regular montreal fare do it because they do not use the RTL’s services. either they drive to the metro from much farther than it would make sense to take a bus – or they live close enough to the station to walk there (which is to be encouraged).

    and just a note about longueuil density: you can’t just say it’s denser than most of montreal’s neighborhoods, because it’s just not true. if you look at both cities’ stats longueuil’s density sits somewhere between 1500 & 3000 residents per square kilometers; while montreal’s central boroughs like montreal-north, ndg, cote-des-neiges, hochelaga, etc all average 7000 residents per square kilo.

    if don’t know if there is a big difference in how those numbers are calculted – but they’re there to be verified, if you want to.

    1. MTLskyline

      In terms of population density, I was comparing the Vieux-Longueuil borough (in which the Metro station is located) to various parts of Montreal island. No, it is not more dense than the central neighbourhoods, but it is as dense (or more dense) then the boroughs I listed (Saint-Laurent, Anjou, Lachine, Pierrefonds-Roxboro and L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève) as well as TMR and pretty much all of the West Island except for DDO.

  11. Jim J.

    And it’s time for politicians in all three cities to realize that holding your breath and screaming “NO NO NO!” is not a valid negotiation tactic.

    Well, if it works – as it appears to have for M. Vaillancourt in this specific case, then it is a valid negotiation tactic.

    It may be unseemly, and embarrassing, and childish, but when you’re dealing with issues of tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars, then you’re going to use every single tool at your disposal. If it means that you appear petulant, well, then, so be it. What the hell does M. Vaillancourt care what the voters in Montreal or Longueuil think?

    Now, I’m not well-versed enough in this specific issue to know who’s right and who’s wrong (I suppose it all depends on who you ask and whether they live in Laval, Montreal or Longueuil), but but to make the blanket statement like you do above demonstrates a bit of naivete when it comes to how you negotiate high-stakes issues, or the concept of catering to the needs of one’s own constituency first.

  12. Mark

    1- As long as you live on either side of the river, you should pay extra for entering Montreal. I don’t care if you live close to the Longueuil station or taking the RTL. You made the choice of not living on the island of Montreal, and there’s a price for that “quality of life“ of yours. Actually you want the benefit of a nice cosy suburb + paying the same as the crowded Montrealers?

    2- How many people actually use the Longueuil metro station without using the RTL bus system? I bet not much. It’s time for those people to take the RTL and discover what Longueuil has to offer. LOL.

    3- Everyone entering the Longueuil station was using a TRAM 3 before 1996. It should never have been changed in the first place. It’s back to normal now.

    4- For those crybabies who don’t use the RTL and live in the ugly Longueuil downtown core, it may be time to consider a move on the other side of the Jacques Cartier Bridge. You’ll save your 41$ per month extra and you’ll live closer to your work/school. Isn’t that great?

    5- Gilles Vaillancourt has much more influence than Caroline St-Hilaire. MUCH more.

    1. MTLskyline

      1. I did not make the “choice” of living on this side of the river. I was born here, and I study downtown. If there was an English-language university on this side of the bridge, I would attend it instead.

      2. I’d be willing to bet that there are more people who use Longueuil’s metro station that don’t take RTL buses than Laval’s three stations combined. Longueuil is the fifth most used station in the network. The Laval stations aren’t even comparable.

      3. Longueuil’s users paid the higher rate for years while their station (and yellow line construction under the river) was paid off. Our turn is over. Now Laval has the three newest stations in the network. It is only normal that Laval passengers pay for their own extension. They whined for a metro extension for years and they got one. Now its time for them to pay for it! If Longueuil was to get a new extension, then and ONLY then should they pay the same rate.

      4. Why should the “crybabies” as you call them, move to the other side of the bridge? They are entitled to live wherever they want. The south shore happens to be a very nice place to live (especially when compared to the bland treeless suburban/semi-rural “neighbourhoods” of Laval). Not to mention that it is extremely close to downtown Montreal. 5 minutes away by metro or car (if there’s no traffic). It should really be part of Montreal when you think about it (and the area the Metro is located in was in a town originally called… Montreal South).

      5. The only reason that Gilles Vaillancourt has so much “influence” is because he is the biggest whiner in the province. He threatens to withhold payments until Longueuil users pay more. He whines that the orange line has not been made into a loop yet (when he just got the extension he begged for, and the south shore hasn’t received a new connection of any kind to Montreal since the 1967 Metro extension).

    2. Vitali

      I bike every summer. Now my wife convinced too. For winter … it might be good idea to move Vacouver finally. Greedy people does not deserve economically active population. Take extra $$ from welfare folks, ha ha!

    3. Caroline

      But I *do* live on the island of Montreal! Unfortunately I work on the South Shore… but within walking distance of the Longueuil metro. I have no need of the RTL buses — why should I have to pay for them?

  13. wkh

    I really don’t get why they caved and the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if it wasn’t some elaborate calculated plot to get Longeuil to pay more. I mean Mr. V knew the price all along. He signed the agreements. It’s not like some OTHER mayor of Laval signed up for this. He knew Longeuil wasn’t paying that much before.

    Why did the extend it in July when in 2011 it would have gone into practice anyway? Now they’ve just pissed everyone off.

    That said it was pretty clear when they started the OPUS thing that STM is moving to a “per stop” payment system like what is in place in many other cities worldwide. Busses likely will stay the same but all too soon it will cost far more to travel from Angrignon to Beaudry than it does to travel from Guy-Concordia to McGill.

  14. Steve Hatton

    Maybe we should stop comparing apples and oranges.

    The south shore is only 2 stops away from downtown Montreal, whereas Laval is 11 stops away. From a consumer point of view, if I lived next door to Longueuil metro, it would feel like as if I’m getting screwed.

    Now I’m not suggesting that distance should be the only factor considered when calculating transit fares and yes I know that Longueuil is technically a suburb just like Laval, hence the whole argument. But I point out the distance thing just to show how silly this whole argument is. Things were perfectly fine until the mayor of Laval decided cry like a baby.

    Maybe we should look at this for what it is at face value: Yet another excuse to raise the cost of monthly passes. Then maybe we will all go back to arguing against transit fair increases instead of in favour of them.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The AMT uses a system that determines rates based on the distance from downtown Montreal. That system puts Longueuil, Laval and the West Island all in Zone 3.

      The STM, meanwhile, doesn’t have a zone system. The cost is the same whether you’re in Ste. Anne de Bellevue or Outremont. From their perspective, what’s important isn’t the distance to downtown, but the fact that the station is outside of the STM’s territory. And that if you live in Longueuil, you don’t pay municipal taxes toward the STM network.

      All that might change depending on what they announce next week.

  15. Matthew

    Will Montrealers who buy their STM tickets in ten packs on OPUS Cards now have to search around for $2.75 in change when going back to Montreal (like we have to in Laval)?

  16. John Mcclane

    It’s time the STM/AMT starts their true system of “pay for your travel”, intra-zones and all. The STM chickens out since all those years, but someday they will switch. Why not now with that news?

    1. Fassero

      Because it’s obviously more fun to put on these shenanigans to try and bait more money from the province. I don’t see why a charge-by-travel-distance system cannot be put in place, especially with OPUS. You can still have flat-rates for monthly travel but it’s even good for users who may not necessarily need to travel into the city at least 5 days a week for four weeks. And it makes the Metro more self-financing. I’ve used the system in some American cities and, quite frankly, it’s fantastic. One big problematic obstacle could be the unions because such a system also tends to reduce the number of fare collectors (since the purchases are basically done via machines.)

      1. Fagstein Post author

        I don’t see why a charge-by-travel-distance system cannot be put in place, especially with OPUS.

        That’s one of the reasons Opus was installed, and the big reason why the STM has a proof-of-payment system now with inspectors checking for valid fares. Having a travel-by-distance system requires knowing where someone will begin and end their travel. It requires either forcing people to have their fares checked as they leave the system (possible on the metro but impractical on buses) or work on an honour system like the AMT, with inspectors randomly checking people and fining them when they don’t have the right fare.

        1. telso

          It requires either forcing people to have their fares checked as they leave the system (possible on the metro but impractical on buses)

          It is not any more difficult to do travel-by-distance on a bus than it is on a metro (and it means only one payment system for users to learn): just put a tap-out reader at each door of the bus. EZ-Link does it in Singapore, and I feel as if I’ve seen it in China. Passengers who don’t tap out are charged the full fare from their entry to the end of the line (since the fare is stored on the card and not in a central computer, it gets applied the next time the card is tapped in). Further, this means there’s no need to tap out at a terminus, which will mean this slowdown is eliminated when the terminus is a metro station or other hub.

          Regardless, this whole buying tickets using a smart card idea is incredibly inefficient. Rather than loading discrete tickets, we should be able to load money. Then, when we use the system, money is deducted appropriately. Transit agencies can set their own fare structure and we’d only need one card: the technology wouldn’t have to deal with storing STM, RTL, STL, AMT and CIT tickets, each with multiple zones — the readers would deduct the amount for that route.

          Further, we could take advantage of fare capping: you pay no more than what a one-day pass would cost. So if zone 1 STM metro trips were $2.10, zone 1 STM bus trips were $1.50 and a one-day zone 1 STM pass was $7, a metro trip followed by a metro trip with bus transfer, followed by a bus trip, another bus trip, and a metro trip would deduct: $2.10, $2.10 ($0 for transfer), $1.50, $1.30 and $0. You could also implement this cap over a week or month, greatly benefiting those who are not sure if buying such passes would be worth it. This would require the card needing to know which trips are made, but it’s worth it.

          You could also install readers in stores, which could recharge a card and also offer to purchases charged to the card, turning it into a debit card (like the Octopus Card), immediately creating competition with Interac.

          But most of all, it simplifies things for the user greatly: no need to check what fare to buy, and no need to buy fares for those systems you use rarely (“I need a ticket for an STM bus to Snowdon, a Metro to Vendome, an AMT train to Rosmere and a CIT bus Terrebonne. Help!”); just charge and go. Given many of these ideas are 5 or more years old, the fact we implemented the system we did (and are still waiting for card registration for replacement and online purchases, among other features) is as ridiculous as our rubber tires.

        2. emdx

          Not really.

          Pay-by-the-distance sounds feasible, but without exit ticket readers and ticket machines inside the fare-paid zone (like in the US cities that have the system), it cannot happen.

          Besides that, pay-by-the-distance is so much not in the people’s mentality here that they would face an extreme uphill battle trying to implement it.

          And how could you implement this on buses? You have to swipe your pass/ticket as you go out the front door, taking more time? And what if you go out and don’t have the proper fare? You slam the bus door in the front of the guy? If that would happen, you would have basis for a criminal detention lawsuit, unless you make every bus driver a sworn-in peace officer.

          Because many people, when told to pay extra when exiting from the bus, would tell the driver to shove it.

          No, pay-by-the-distance would open up so much legal cans or worms that it is just not contemptible. The people may be sheeple, but they will not bendover that much backwards.

          1. telso

            People paying in cash or with individual tickets pay the full distance fare. Those using OPUS cards can take advantage of partial-distance fares. This will convince more people to switch over. (Yes, it’s slightly unfair for tourists, but Boston and London do it, and if you’re using it more than a few times it’s worth it and if you’re not it costs you a few dollars extra at most.) You can allow negative balances (down to -$7, what we paid for the card in the first place, or down to -$whatever the most expensive individual trip is), like the Octopus card, so you can always complete your trip if you start with a positive balance, but then you have to recharge. So people can always leave the system once they’re in, but can’t go in if they can’t afford to leave (like now).

            And yes, it will take time for people to adapt to tapping out. So start it at metros, where people are used to going through turnstiles on exit, and expand it to buses and trains later. We’re conditioning them to keep their fare at all times while in the system, so it’s just one more step. Adaptable period, then warning period, then we’re there. We can even put tap-out stations at popular stops so people can leave the bus first and then tap out (add it to those new abribus with power supply and next buses built right in). People in other cities can figure it out, why not Montrealers?

    2. William Moss

      Before the metro, the MTC DID have a zone system. I (barely) remember when you needed to use an extra 5 cent inter-zone ticket to transfer from the 101 (now 103) to the 162 in Cote St Luc.

  17. John M

    I’ll continue to use my car and fuck up th eenvironment because no matter what, it’s better than the public system…

  18. Philip Rice

    The bottom line for me is that using the Longueuil metro station should not cost more than it did since there is no change in service. As to what constitutes zone 3 or not, the only logical justification for a zone 3 fare is that one is combining transports systems (for example the RTL of Longueuil with the Montreal Metro). The whole Yellow line and the Longueuil station are part of the original Metro system. Using JUST that station rather than a cobination of local buses and Metro you are not using any combined system hence no zone 3 fare.

    As for what municipality you’re in that is just not the point. The determining factor is whether or not you are using some form of transit grafted on to the montreal system. When you enter by the Longueuil station, you are entering the Montreal system regardless of the municipality that station is in.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      One could make the same argument about commuter trains – it’s one network, and you’re only using one form of transport, so why should you have to pay for a multizone pass?

      The answer, of course, is that the entire point of zoned passes is zones. When you travel from Montreal to Longueuil, you’re crossing between two zones. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with that concept, but it’s the way the AMT determines fares.

  19. MTLskyline

    Here’s a map modified by Miska from that measures distance from downtown:

    Notice that based on distance, Vieux-Longueuil, Saint-Lambert and Greenfield Park are all within 10 km from Central Station downtown (some areas even less than 5 km away). Notice that Laval is over 10 km away, as are all of the eastern and western tips of the island. The fact that there is a river dividing Montreal and the south shore shouldn’t mean squat.

  20. Jean Naimard

    It’s always fun to hear the ’burbs squeal when they are confronted with their freeloading reality…
    They bitch that the central city is “costing” them a lot, but they do not see the benefits they get from the central city.
    For example, without Montréal, the ’burbs would just be wasteland. Instead of be worth $600,000 (in the head of the owner), that modly Mc-Gill split in Pointe-Claire would be worth about $150,000.
    Being a ’burb of Montréal is a privilege and it has it’s costs.
    Without Montréal, there just would be no place to go working; companies that are in the ’burbs are attracted by Montréal; if Montréal was magically  gouged-out from the map and transported somewhere nice, like around Franquelin or Frelisburgh, companies would have no reason to set shop in Longueuil, Laval or Lorraine.
    The thing is,  as much as no man is one, Montréal is an island bathed by quite a sizeable river; crossing that body of water is expensive; it has to be, bridges always has been and rivers always shaped human geography.

  21. Blork

    First of all, people like Jean Naimard are idiots and should be ignored. (The fact that the proximity of the city has inflated house prices beyond people’s means is a *benefit*? WTF?)

    Second, it’s too bad I missed this thread when it was hot.

    Finally, it always drives me crazy that these issues of public transit are always decided by people who DON’T EVEN USE public transit!

    OK, a bit more: all these Montrealers who think the 450s are getting some kind of “free ride” and are costing Montrealers all kinds of money and inconvenience are full of crap. Instead of getting all phobic on people just because they live in a different neighbourhood, why not think in terms of what can be done to bring people together and bring down walls instead of getting all Balkanized and hateful and putting up walls?

    1. Jean Naimard

      First of all, people like Jean Naimard are idiots and should be ignored. (The fact that the proximity of the city has inflated house prices beyond people’s means is a *benefit*? WTF?)

      Although I would normally tend to agree with you on the affordability of houses, the first part of your… er… “argument” tends to say that the value of their houses is the foremost thing on the mind of homeowners.

      Second, it’s too bad I missed this thread when it was hot.

      It doesn’t take much to revive it.

      Finally, it always drives me crazy that these issues of public transit are always decided by people who DON’T EVEN USE public transit!

      How could you be suprised by this fact? Have you been sleeping those last 20-30-40-50 years???

      OK, a bit more: all these Montrealers who think the 450s are getting some kind of "free ride" and are costing Montrealers all kinds of money and inconvenience are full of crap.

      Sure they are. They benefit nothing at all to the central city. They come there, work, and go back “home” and spend their money in the strip malls there, pay no taxes to Montréal despite being responsible for a significant portion of the road congestion and the pollution that claims thousands of lives yearly.

      Instead of getting all phobic on people just because they live in a different neighbourhood, why not think in terms of what can be done to bring people together and bring down walls instead of getting all Balkanized and hateful and putting up walls?

      Says someone who resolutely avoids integrating with the french majority!!!

  22. Pin-Fo Chen

    This really makes no sense, thinkg of the students who go to Universite de Montreal and the people going to Sherbrooke University from Montreal, they’ll know have to pay extra just because they go to school here in order to go home? Make no sense at all.
    Is that accounted in the 15% too?

  23. SHARON


    1. Jean Naimard

      If they lived in Montréal, they would spend even more in Montréal.
      But right now, all those people **FREELOAD** from Longueuil so it’s only fair that they pay more. Because as a montrealer, I am fed-up of paying for the suburban freeloaders.

      1. Merica

        Wow are you for real? Freeload??? We are still paying the fare to go onto the metro, it’s not like we get it for free

        1. Jean Naimard

          Yes, freeload. Even if you pay for your fare, you don’t pay the taxes that make up the difference between your fare and what your trip costs the STM.

          1. Fair-Share

            I bet you hasn’t born when the Longueuil metro station been built.
            The fare, which people paid for entering Longueuil metro station, has used to raise you, paying your child care and day care. Freeload, you’re the one taking freeload during those years!

  24. Linda

    I know I am jumping on the bandwagon rather late in replying to this post, but I came across it on the internet and just had to give it my own two cents. I myself sir, am one of your tiny minority affected by this change. As a student, I walk to the metro to save money (a LOT of money) and don’t need the amt pass. I know of others who bike there – or carpool. Why should those who don’t need a pass in Longueuil be held hostage because the mayor of Laval is whining about costs? They get a brand new shiny metro – whereas we are still using the same existing service that has been in place forever. Why should I end up paying 40$ extra a month? Out of an already really tight budget? It’s very comforting to know that those in power, or those commenting feel that this “small minority” of people who will be affected are of little importance. That this will mostly nab drivers on the south shore. However I do sympathize with them – people drive everywhere on the south shore (non-including myself) because there is a SHIT transit system. Infrequent. Unreliable. It’s a necessity for many. I’m sure if you took notice most the cars in that parking lot are probably from cities like Chambly or St-Basile who have horrible transit systems. It’s unfortunate for our society that is trying to promote public transit and greener ways of getting around to neglect to consider how certain decisions are adversely affecting its citizens. Thank you AMT for eventually cutting 40$ extra out of my student budget every month. I’m sure the government will compensate me. Right.


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