Doo-doo-doo immortalized

The STM announced this morning that it is testing a warning sound for metro doors closing that it plans to have installed on all MR-73 trains by 2012. Right now, trains in Montreal’s metro don’t give any visual or audio indication that their doors are about to close, which sometimes causes people to get caught in them. Other metro systems around the world have such a chime and/or blinking light to indicate that doors are about to close or are closing.

This isn’t the first time the STM has come up with this idea. In 2008, it tested a train that had a high-pitched beeping sound. I imagine it wasn’t received very well, considering how annoying that beep can be when heard over and over again.

The sound they’ve come up with this time – you can listen to it in .WAV format (WAV? Really STM?) on the STM’s website – is a vocal warning with the famous doo-doo-doo sound of departing trains in the background.

This is significant because the doo-doo-doo sound associated with Montreal’s metro system is endangered.

The sound is heard on the MR-73 trains used on the blue and orange lines (a similar sound is heard on three MR-63 trains with middle elements from a specially-designed train). It’s not an artificial or intentional creation, but rather a byproduct of a current chopper that regulates power going to the electric motor. This chopper has five stages, which give off sound at different frequencies (three of which are audible by most people).

In new trains that will be built hopefully sometime before the next millennium, the motors will have a much more advanced power regulation system that will result in a continuous frequency change rather than discrete notes. It will sound more like a car engine accelerating than the metro we know now (assuming it makes much sound at all – new trains are supposed to be much quieter).

There has been suggestions among transit fans of artificially emulating the sound by just playing a sound file when the trains start moving, but that seems a bit silly and unnecessary.

Using the three-note sound for a door chime, on the other hand, makes sense. It’s a pleasant sound, instantly recognizable, and has a bit of heritage value, I’d argue.

Assuming the STM sticks with this sound for its new trains, we won’t have to worry about doo-doo-doo going the way of the dodo.

UPDATE (Aug. 13): I happened to be on the train that’s testing this new chime. The doors begin closing at the word “fermons” in “nous fermons les portes,” which on the plus side means there’s little additional delay caused by adding the warning, but on the minus side means that by the time someone who hasn’t heard the notice understands what it says (by the time it gets to the keyword “portes”), it’s already obvious that the doors are closing, and the warning becomes unnecessary.

I kind of agree with the commenters below: keep the chime, but lose the voice.

UPDATE (Nov. 12): I was on this train again today, and noticed that they’ve done exactly as I and others have suggested. The sound remains the same, but the voice announcement has disappeared completely.

28 thoughts on “Doo-doo-doo immortalized

  1. snowy2004

    I didn’t realize Montreal had no door-closing chime. I must have thought that sound was it. That or I’ve been using the TTC so much, its own Doo-Doo-Doo got stuck in my head. They even use it on the GO commuter trains here.

  2. Bert

    Great! Another peice of noise polution to drive in to my head! Will there be a warning before opening the doors, to make sure we don’t trip over the gap?

    How can people know the doors are closing, how about the racket they already make? The doors stay open 10-20 seconds? How hard is it to figure out?

    1. Eric

      Because not all people can see. A door chime is necessary for folks with visual impairments. Flashing lights are necessary for those with audible impairments. It’s an improvement for all, nonetheless, and improves everyone’s safety.

  3. mare

    Too bad they put that female voice over the sound. Listening every 2 minutes to that voice, unrecomprensible because of the metro station’s acoustics, will tire very soon. Please STM, just the sound by itself will work just fine, no need for an explanation in language. Everybody will figure out what the sound stands for after one or two times hearing it when the doors close.

  4. Marc

    The chimes are a good idea, the voice is not needed. They better do it right and not close the door at the same time as the chimes start.

  5. Karine

    Come on now the most common reason for people getting stuck is because they tried to beat the closing door, unless you’re on the Angrignon bound train that stops at Guy-Concordia, the drivers regularly close the doors on people who had to wait to the never ending flow of people coming off.

    One chime they need to change is the one one the newest buses. Annoying as heck when you hear at every stop.

  6. GDS

    The STM has a knack for pitching things as new and innovative when most other places have implemented this feature over a decade ago. They did the same thing with the airport shuttle – wow a bus to the airport, so innovative. They did the same thing with the slinky buses, wow a slinky bus, only 30 years after the first one. They will probably do that the new metro if they ever arrive. Wow – air conditioning (not likely) in the subway.

    1. Chris

      I think the train would be to the next station by the time the message was announced in all the languages of recent immigrants and visitors to the city.

  7. James Lawlor

    I heard this thing yesterday. It is a very annoying new feature. The warning beep is not that loud because it is drowned out by “Attention, on ferme des portes”.
    It could be worse, in the New York subway you could hear: “Stand clear of the closing doors” or at the JFK airport could hear “Please stand clear. The doors are closing, please hold on”. Imagine hearing that all day!

    The STM should go back to the warning beep.

    1. Eric

      Yes, but in New York City, the chimes sound as the doors close, not before. As such, the announcement is necessary. Trust me, I’m a native New Yorker and it’s more a comforting and familiar part of life than an annoyance.

  8. sco100

    They MUST drop the voice. At least, the “prochaine station” thing has a certain variety to it, but this vocal bit is absolutely useless and most definitely annoying.

    And I totally agree with Karine about the high-pitch torture chime that plagues the new buses. I rode one where a defective sensor (which an increasingly disturbed driver failed to locate on the numerous occasions when he stopped tthe bus to do just that) triggered the sound every 20 seconds or so; that’s enough to make any bus driver go postal. That sound makes your guts churn every time and there’s just no getting used to it.

  9. Leslie Alf

    At Cote Vertu (start of the orange line) there is a loud beep beep beep that signals the train is departing, get ye olde asses aboard! I forgot that every station doesn’t do this.

  10. AlexH

    I love the door close warning in Hong Kong, in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. It’s almost comical how long it takes to warn people at every stop.

  11. Vahan

    You know what we are doing here? I’ll tell ya what we are doing here! We are sissifying the population.
    Warnings here, chimes there, vocal messages everywhere, seat belts in cars, no smoking in bars, helmets while riding bikes, bike paths that separate the riders from drivers, no turning right on red in the city, encouraging Montreal pedestrians to cross at the light, elevators in Metro stations. How about the parents wussing up their kids, in their face 24 hours a day, helping with the homework, helping them register for University, letting them live in their homes well into their mid 30’s. Honestly what is this pussy world coming to. What happened to the school of hard knocks. You get caught once in those doors you don’t do it again, and if you repeat your offense then maybe you ain’t to bright to be part of society. Go directly to jail, do not pass Go and do not collect your $200.00. Morons!! :)

  12. emdx

    For a while, about 20 years ago, the TTC used the same iconic buzzer as the RATP (Paris):

    but they have changed since to a discreet chime.

    I was at a Costco some while back, and I had the extreme surprise of hearing the same chime buzzer as the TTC now uses, which, apparently, is a generic one and was used on the number thingy for people waiting for glasses…

    But if the new chime does not uses the “doo-doo-doo”, it will nevertheless be immortalized forever on You Tube: (Warning! Cannot be unseen!!!)

    But yeah, the voice is totally superfluous.

  13. Tux

    Love the idea of keeping the old “doo-Doo-DOOOOO” alive in whatever form. I always loved hearing that sound as the metro pulled away when I was a kid. But yes, drop the voice, and for god’s sake close the doors AFTER the sound plays. It’s not a warning if it doesn’t give you time to react.

  14. Rider

    I’ve heard this a few times in the past two weeks on the orange line. As others have pointed out, it’s not the chime but the voice that is distracting. I am usually reading stuff for work on the metro and this voice keeps breaking my attention at every station.

  15. Rich

    Speaking of continuity, the STM should’ve emulated the sounds of the old metro turnstiles on the new ones. Those two-tone beeps were sweet.

    1. Tux

      They so were! I loved that sound! And the “can’t read card” noise the new turnstiles make is rather unpleasant.

      While we’re at it, why not have the “Card OK” sound on the buses play the noise of change dropping into a glass and stainless steel collector box… the pleasant tinkle of coins as opposed to cold computery beeps.

      1. Rich

        Sadly, creativity among firmware designers seems to have become a lost art. Not that it was ever a found one. With one very happy exception: When I plug my Bixi key into that bike stand, when the light goes green, and the speaker emits that faint little “brrrringgg!” sound… All is well with the world for that one brief shining moment.

  16. Jim J.

    Incidentally, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo had already been immortalized by The Rolling Stones on their 1973 album Goats Head Soup.

  17. Mikayla

    Am I the only one who had a crise cardiaque the first time that chime… uh, chimed on the orange line? I find it eerily similar to that sugar sweet tune of the metro being delayed because of ‘un intervention ambulanciare’ or whatever the heck it says…

  18. Doo doo

    Heard it on the blue line today without the annoying voice announcement that they had during the trial. Much more bearable now.

  19. Adam

    I ride the metro whenever I’m in Montreal and love that noise cause I think of “on y va” whenever the metro takes off… glad they found another use for it! I’m really glad they didn’t pick up the horrible buzzer used on the Paris Metro.


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