Monthly Archives: November 2010

STM fares for 2011: Another hike

The STM is giving a bit more notice this year than last of its fare hikes, but that’s not going to make too many people happy about the news, since, of course, they’re going up again, along with other city taxes.

In addition to the usual incremental increases in all fares, the STM is adding a couple of new ones to encourage occasional transit users.

One is a simple two-for-one-and-five-sixths, offering two fares for $5.50 instead of $6 when bought together. The idea is that if you’re going somewhere by public transit, you’re probably coming back the same way, and it makes sense to encourage this, even if it’s only 50 cents off. (It also means if you buy two tickets at a time, you’ll pay the same price per ticket as you did in 2010.)

The second new fare is more interesting. Called “Soirée illimitée”, it permits unlimited travel after 6pm (it’s not clear how late this goes) for $4, which is only $1 more than a single-trip fare. A day pass, allowing unlimited travel for 24 hours from the point of purchase, will cost $8 on Jan. 1.

And, as previously announced, people who use the Longueuil metro station won’t be able to use their regular CAM passes as of Jan. 1. The deal with Laval means that the fare required for that station will increase gradually until it matches AMT Zone 3 rates. For now, the STM is selling what it calls the “CAM Longueuil” for $82, the price of a Zone 1 TRAM.

The tourist passes (allowing unlimited travel for 1 or 3 days) have gone up, but are still slightly below 2009 levels after the STM reduced them last year.

Here’s the table, compared to last year:

Regular Reduced
Monthly CAM $72.75 ($70+ 3.9%) $41 ($38.75 + 5.8%)
CAM Longueuil $82 $49
Weekly CAM $22 ($20.50 + 2.5%) $12.75 ($11.50 + 10.9%)
Three-day tourist pass $16 ($14 + 14.3%) N/A
One-day tourist pass $8 ($7 + 14.3%) N/A
Evening pass (after 6pm) $4 N/A
10 trips (Opus card only) $22.50 ($2.25/trip, $21 + 7.1%) $13 ($1.30/trip, $12 + 8.3%)
Six trips $14.25 ($2.38/trip, $13.25 + 7.5%) $8.50 ($1.42/trip, $7.50 + 13.3%)
Two trips $5.50 ($2.75/trip) $3.50 ($1.75/trip)
Single fare $3 ($2.75 + 9.1%) $2 ($1.75 + 14.3%)

And for fun, since all the media are doing it, here’s what the regular fares were in 2001, 10 years ago:

  • CAM: $48.50 (now 50% more)
  • CAM hebdo: $13.50 (now 63% more)
  • Six tickets: $8.50 (now 68% more)
  • Single fare: $2.00 (now 50% more)
  • Tourist (1 calendar day): $7 (now 14% more)
  • Tourist (three consecutive days): $14 (now 14% more)

You can read the full 2011 budget here (PDF).

UPDATE: Fee tables from the AMT, STL and RTL, mostly modest increases of a buck or two. Note that the RTL’s cash fare (which doesn’t allow transfers) will be $3.10 instead of $3.

Media hold out their hands (please don’t bite them)

As the holiday season approaches, La Presse is doing their annual thing and putting its vedettes up for rent in an auction.

The lots are familiar to those who have witnessed this stunt the past few years: Yves Boisvert, Serge Chapleau, Marie-Claude Lortie and others propose some activity related to their specialty. Patrick Lagacé also offers to let you shadow him for a day, but he’ll let just about anyone spend time with him for free.

And Paul Journet, despite coming in dead last in 2009, is willing to put his pride on the line again, proposing a trip to the golf course.

I’m sad to say that I won’t be able to revive my Anyone But Foglia campaign this year since the star columnist doesn’t feature among the 11 lots. This is most unfortunate, because we cannot defeat him if he doesn’t participate. It’s like going to the Stanley Cup final and the other team forfeits. That’s not fun at all.

So who can we use our money to defeat this time? Alain de Repentigny came in second last year, and this year is offering the upcoming U2 concert, which is pretty enticing.

Or maybe we can just use our money for good instead of evil. Put it all on Paul Journet. Make his Christmas a happy one for once.

UPDATE: It’s over, with $34,161 raised. The results:

  • Émilie Côté: $1,000
  • Éric Clément: $1,100
  • Paul Journet: $1,250
  • Alain De Repentigny: $1,600
  • Nos 3 directeurs: $1,700
  • Patrick Lagacé: $1,850
  • Bernard Brault: $2,200
  • Serge Chapleau: $2,500
  • Marie-Claude Lortie: $3,000
  • Sophie Cousineau: $3,901
  • Yves Boisvert: $4,025
  • Canadien: $5,200

It’s Michel C. Auger-tastic!

Radio-Canada is also doing a similar event, auctioning off cool people and/or cool things, including some time with Joyce Napier and Michel C. Auger, or an autographed Canadiens jersey. Or you can go winter biking with Emmanuel Bilodeau.

The choice is yours. But this is the one time during the year that you can help some needy people and give journalists a rare indication that people actually care about them.

We’ll take your spare change too

If the auctions are a bit too expensive for you, the Grande Guignolée des médias is coming on Dec. 2. And, of course, there’s always the Gazette Christmas Fund, which is bombarding you with stories of the people it’s helping until you either open your wallets or acknowledge that your heart is dead and that little bit of soul left in you has long ago bitten the dust.


Remember kids, when the Alouettes offence is on the field, fans should be quiet so the players can hear each other.

So Assshh!

And when the other team’s offence is on the field, be as loud as possible so they can’t hear each other.

That’s when you can be an Assshh-olé.

Show me your paper’s papers

It's not always so easy distinguishing journalists from the rest

At its general assembly on Nov. 28, the Fédération profesionnelle des journalistes du Québec will be debating a series of motions recommended by the organization’s executive committee. Among them is a demand for a parliamentary commission into the Journal de Montréal lockout, an update to its ethics guidelines to reflect the development of social media (a subject I’ve been invited to speak about at a panel discussion the day before), and a bill of rights for freelancers.

These things sound pretty good (though the wording of the demand for a parliamentary commission sounds like its goal is to get the government to publicly embarrass Quebecor and come down against the creation of the QMI Agency news service).

There’s also a motion to expand the definition of “Quebec”, as silly as that sounds, to include those media organizations that “étant établie au Canada, entretient avec le Québec des liens historiques et culturels“, which sounds a lot like they’ll accept francophone journalists from just about anywhere in Canada. I’m not necessarily against this, but it opens up a can of worms (will the FPJQ now have to deal with the Ontario and New Brunswick governments?) and reinforces the idea that there’s a French mediasphere and an English one, and the FPJQ is on the French side.

But the motion that really bothers me is a proposal to setup a certification system for journalists.

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The journalists of tomorrow

Students of Concordia University's journalism graduate diploma program

Almost a month ago, The Gazette went through a yearly tradition of inviting journalism students into its office and handing out some awards (read: small bursaries) to those who have stood out among their peers.

This evening went on like others have before it, with the students being invited into the office and being served wine and cheese before some people they don’t know introduce other people they don’t know and hand out bursaries named after people they don’t know.

But there was a big difference this year: a new bursary, named after someone else they didn’t know.

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A writer’s newspaper

In an effort to be even more elitist snobs than they already are honour authors as the Salon du livre opens (and we’re in the middle of book awards season), Le Devoir hands over today’s issue to 33 authors.

The authors (including Dany Laferrière, Caroline AllardFred Pellerin and David Homel) were paired with Le Devoir’s journalists for the day yesterday – an activity chronicled in a two-part liveblog and photo gallery.

Though Le Devoir is one of the few remaining publications in Canada to use a paywall, all the authors’ pieces are currently free online. You can see them listed here.

There’s also a cartoon by Michel Rabagliati and a podcast of interviews about the issue (with bonus sounds of a fake typewriter in the background).

Mordecai’s dilemma

Fairmount Ave., hardly devoid of history

With the 10th anniversary of Mordecai Richler’s death approaching (and the resurgence of interest in his work), city councillors Marvin Rotrand and Michael Applebaum are doing some political organizing of their own. They’re trying to get people to sign an online petition that demands the city “make an appropriate gesture to commemorate the contribution of Mordecai Richler in naming a street, a public place or building in his honour.”

The petition doesn’t make any suggestions, doesn’t necessarily suggest renaming anything, and doesn’t even demand that it be a street. But the discussion has begun, and it has 683 signatures so far.

The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein made the first concrete suggestion: Fairmount Ave. in Mile End, where Wilensky’s is located. “That shouldn’t upset too many people, other than surviving members of the Bagg family,” he writes.

Well, there’s Fairmount Bagel, and Garderie Fairmount, and Fairmount Hardware. (Okay, maybe not that last one, it’s boarded up and closed now.)

And there’s the Société St. Jean Baptiste and other language/sovereignist hardliners, who just hate Richler. They denounce him for being divisive and demonizing politicians, as if they are themselves above both those things. They say he’s an anti-Quebec racist, which is an odd thing to say since he himself was a Quebecer.

It’s not that I agree with or think we should honour some of the meanspirited things that Richler has said. But if we can fawn over Pierre Falardeau despite all the crazy shit he’s said, certainly we can do the same for Richler.

More sane nationalists like Jean-François Lisée agree it is time we name something after Richler. According to the Commission de toponymie, the name Richler currently isn’t attached to anything in this province.

Rue Saint-Urbain and Avenue Mordecai-Richler?

Renaming is tricky

Rotrand has learned the value of public consultation in situations like this. The city administration had the best of intentions when it announced it was going to rename the generically-named Park Ave. in honour of Robert Bourassa. But residents and business owners mounted a huge campaign against it, arguing that not only would it cause practical problems like replacing dozens of street signs and forcing businesses to change their business cards, but that it would take away from the city’s history rather than adding to it.

It’s a no-win scenario. Rename something big and central like Park or St. Urbain, and you start poking holes in the city’s history. Rename something small like a side street and you diminish the importance of the person you’re trying to honour (Ruelle Nick-Auf-der-Maur, anyone?). Name a new street in a suburban development, and you might as well be naming something in another city.

Fairmount is an attempt at a compromise. It’s not as important as St. Urbain or St. Laurent, but it’s not some tiny side street either, and it’s right at the heart of Richler’s neighbourhood.

But Fairmount also has history, probably best known as the street that houses one of Montreal’s two most important bagel makers. Renaming the street might make sense in that context, or it might not.

So we have a vague campaign that leaves the biggest detail up to a city bureaucrat. And the pundits throw out their ideas too.

I think, like with Park, this process isn’t starting the right way. If this is to be truly a grass-roots campaign, it should start with the people who live and work on the street that would be renamed. If Fairmount Bagel and its neighbours want to mount a campaign to honour Richler, then the city should consider it. If some other street’s residents want to do the same, they should consider that as well.

The problem with this scenario is that it isn’t top-down, and the councillors are powerless to force it through. It depends on regular people spontaneously starting a major campaign with their neighbours to get something changed.

But that’s the only way I can see this happening to everyone’s satisfaction.

Of course, if it wasn’t a street we were renaming, the risks would diminish along with the rewards. Other naming suggestions have also come forward, from a small park to a sandwich or drink. Rotrand tells Radio-Canada that people have suggested a cultural prize or library would make more sense.

But nothing carries the same punch as a street named after you.

UPDATE (Nov. 14): Chantal Guy explores the subject and agrees with the idea, even if Richler wasn’t exactly a saint.

New bus shelters are so sharp it hurts (UPDATED)

UPDATE (Nov. 25): The Gazette’s Andy Riga reports the STM says the average price for these shelters is actually lower than what they reported earlier. Also see below my photos of this shelter at night.

A prototype of the new STM bus shelter at René-Lévesque Blvd. and Jeanne-Mance St.

On Monday, the Société de transport de Montréal made a big splash of this rectangular glass box, inviting the media to take pictures and witness a dramatic unveiling. This is the model of a new style of bus shelter that the STM is planning to replicate hundreds of times.

Michel Labrecque, the STM’s chairman, said the biggest thing about it is the look, and how the aesthetic design of the shelter will draw more transit users in. People want to wait in something “sharp”, he said, something that looks more like the future than the stone age.

The shelters will cost between $14,000 and $16,000 about $12,000 each, not including the development cost, which will bring the total price for 400 shelters to $14 million. Even then, it’s significantly more than the price of existing shelters.

After installing three prototypes (the other two will come next month), the STM will seek input from users before making the order for the rest.

Not wanting to pass judgment before I saw it myself, I decided to pass by the shelter on the day after the big announcement, when all the TV cameras, PR people and giant tarps had long gone (and when the weather wasn’t so rainy).

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CFCF, RDS to get studio upgrades

CFCF's studio, from left: sports, news, interviews and weather

Studios for CFCF-12 and RDS at 1205 Papineau Ave. are going to change over the next year.

Staff of both networks in the building were informed Monday of a capital spending plan approved by CTVglobemedia. That plan will see CFCF’s news studio move to what is now office space in the southwest corner of the building, after which RDS will setup two new studios where CFCF’s newscast and RDS’s Antichambre is shot now.

The move will be a welcome change for both networks. Outside of Canadiens games and Antichambre, RDS’s studios look dull and cramped (even in my tiny TV set). CFCF, meanwhile, consists of an anchor desk, a smaller sports anchor desk, a table and two chairs for interviews, and a green screen wall for weather. It’s also beginning to show its age.

Aside from a new look, CFCF’s new studio will have “storefront” exposure, which means people walking by on the street should get a chance to peek inside and see it in action. It will also be “HD-ready.”

But those looking forward to a high-definition newscast shouldn’t hold your breath. The station’s equipment will still need to be upgraded, and that’s not in the cards yet.

“Our new facilities will be ‘HD-ready’, so when the time comes to convert the rest of the shop (cameras, editing, etc), the studio will already be wired and ready,” said news director Jed Kahane. “But we don’t have a date yet for the HD conversion of our news.”

When I visited CFCF in September and asked him about a move to HD, Kahane said there wasn’t anything in the near future, since frankly there isn’t any serious competitive pressure from either CBC or Global to force the station to make such an expensive superficial change. (Kahane has since clarified that the station does want to move to HD as soon as it can, but that “other markets in the country, who don’t enjoy our success, may come first because they need it even more than we do.”)

The full memo to staff is below:

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Door ajar

You’ll probably be seeing mention of this video in the local media in the coming days (hopefully some will actually look into the issue instead of just posting the video with baseless conjecture like I am here). It shows a metro train travelling between the Assomption and Viau stations on the green line with a door stuck open, and is already getting traction on Twitter.

It shouldn’t be difficult to see the very serious safety implications of this kind of failure.

Metro trains are designed with a safety system designed to prevent exactly this (which is why it’s so rare). When it detects that a door has opened beyond a set limit, it automatically commands the train to stop. This is what causes a train to come to an abrupt halt, usually as it’s leaving a station, when someone either accidentally or deliberately attempts to force a door open.

Clearly, unless this video is an elaborate fake of some sort, this system failed on this train. Hopefully it will prompt an investigation that ensures it never happens again.

Since the failure happened on an older MR-63 train, expect some people to link this to the age of the trains and the apparent desperate need to replace them with new ones from Bombardier-Alstom.

UPDATE (Nov. 9): The Gazette’s Max Harrold has preliminary details from the STM: It was just that door, it was locked closed when the STM discovered the problem at Berri-UQAM, and it has since been fixed.

The spokesperson also adds “someone should have pulled the emergency brake” – though those handles on board the trains don’t actually stop a train in motion, they merely prevent it from leaving the next station.

Just about everyone has picked up the story, with varying amounts of journalism involved:

  • Radio-Canada posts the YouTube video, and has a phone interview with STM spokesperson Marianne Rouette, who’s had a busy day
  • Agence QMI says the video came to it via Mon Topo on Monday, and it has quotes from Rouette. It also says the train was in the direction of Honoré-Beaugrand, which contradicts the video and what Rouette says.
  • Métro posts the YouTube video, the basics, and links to Radio-Canada for STM reaction.
  • CBC Montreal posts the YouTube video and quotes Rouette, including the statement that parts from the door were sent “to the lab” for analysis.
  • The Gazette posts the YouTube video and quotes Rouette
  • CTV Montreal posts the YouTube video and interviews Rouette.
  • Branchez-Vous does its usual form of “journalism”, posting the YouTube video and quoting Radio-Canada without linking to it.
  • Montreal City Weblog points out that in 2004 the doors opened on the wrong side – twice. Not exactly the same issue, but it’s another case of doors being open when they shouldn’t.
  • Benoît Dutrizac interviews general manager Carl Desrosiers, who says this was caused by a simultaneous failure of two systems that were completely replaced only three years ago.

There’s also commentary already, mostly along the lines of “why did they just film it instead of pulling the emergency brake?” – from bloggers like Cécile Gladel. While I think I would have pulled the emergency brake if I was in that position, I would have also taken photos or video of it.

Consider this:

  • As much as safety is a consideration, there didn’t seem to be any immediate danger because the train wasn’t full
  • Pulling the brake or warning the driver would have caused delays as the problem was discovered and fixed, and most people on the metro are looking to get somewhere quickly
  • There’s a reasonable belief that the STM will take this more seriously now that there’s video of it in the news

The forum also has some discussion of this event and testimonials of similar things happening in the past.

UPDATE (Dec. 30, 2013): It’s happened again. Story includes disturbing quotes from STM spokesperson suggesting this is a “fairly rare” occurrence, but it’s “normal” that such things happen a few times a year.

STM launches seniors’ routes in Côte St. Luc, Cartierville

Route for 262 Côte St. Luc

Last week, the STM launched two new seniors’ buses, bringing the total to 10. These routes, served using minibuses, take winding routes through neighbourhoods on select weekdays, stopping at residences, shopping centres, CLSCs and other places that would be of interest to seniors.

The plus side is that seniors get door-to-door service with a driver who isn’t rushed by rowdy schoolkids. The minus side is that the routes are slow and the schedule is atrocious: departures are more than an hour apart and service is only offered on some days of the week.

The STM started the seniors’ buses with two routes in the west end in 2006 – one in Côte des Neiges and the other in N.D.G. Both lasted about a year before they were canned due to lack of ridership. Still, they soon launched other buses, mostly on the eastern side of the island: Montreal North, St. Michel, Rosemont, Rivière des Prairies, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Mercier, Anjou, and one in LaSalle. Most follow the same idea, offering service between rush hours on two or three weekdays. And for some reason, the STM has deemed these successful enough to keep them around longer.

Now they’re coming back to the west side, going after an area that has a lot of seniors and not much public transit.

The 262 Côte St. Luc (PDF) starts in the area around the Cavendish Mall, then down Cavendish and Côte St. Luc Road until Westminster. From there it heads non-stop to the Carrefour Angrignon shopping mall (though not to the nearby metro station). It has four departures in each direction on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The 263 Bordeaux-Cartierville (PDF) passes through the residences near Acadie Blvd. on the east side of Highway 15, then goes along de Salaberry, O’Brien, Gouin and Laurentian, and non-stop to the Place Vertu shopping centre. Again, no stop at a metro station. The bus also has four departures in each direction, but on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The buses are designed and marketed for seniors but accept regular fare and passengers of any age (though this isn’t made abundantly clear and even some drivers have apparently been under the incorrect impression that it’s reserved for those over 65).

I’ve never been one one of these routes, and I don’t know what their ridership figures are like, but fortunately we’re only talking about a minibus or two for six hours two or three times a week, so the cost is fairly low for each route.

Metrovision gets an update, and another

The new Metrovision layout

Last week, MetroMedia Plus, the people behind the Metrovision screens in high-traffic metro stations – which show news updates and ads on giant screens but also helpfully tell us how long it’ll be until the next train arrives – gave it a design update.

The old Metrovision layout

The new Metrovision screens as they first appeared

The screens still show the same information in the same places along the top: the time (though now with the date underneath), the Metrovision logo, the weather and the times of the next departures. But it’s the last one that doesn’t seem to have been thought through so well. The new digits are noticeably smaller, include a useless leading zero, and have lost a lot of contrast. Instead of being white on dark blue, they became light blue on white.

I noticed the result easily as I transferred trains at Berri-UQAM: While under the previous layout I could see the time to the next train at a glance from 50 feet away, with the new layout it became a blur.

I wasn’t the only one to notice. A few complaints were made on Twitter, prompting the company to quickly promise changes.

Within a few days, the layout had changed slightly. The light blue text became black, and the size of the numbers were larger, making them easier to see from a distance.

If only someone had thought to conduct usability testing before the system went into effect…

Didier Lucien mimes things into the Metrovision screen


Meanwhile, Metrovision has brought on Ze Mime, Didier Lucien, to act out stuff for advertisers. Since Metrovision doesn’t have sound, this kind of makes sense. Maybe even “a dynamic way to advertise,” as the release says.

But I don’t see how useful a mime will be at talking to us about transit schedules and news. How do you mime “ralentissement de service sur la ligne orange”?

More details on this from La Presse Affaires and InfoPresse.