Monthly Archives: June 2011

Canadian Tire not so Canadian in Quebec

Canadian Tire bilingual flyers for Ontario and Quebec

It’s the latest chapter in Canadian companies playing down their Canadian-ness in Quebec. (Remember when Tim Hortons cups here didn’t have maple leaves on them?)

For this week’s flyer, Canadian Tire produced different versions for Quebec and the rest of the country. This is partly because the flyer is for a week starting June 24, and the flyers in Quebec can’t show Friday specials since stores were closed in Quebec on Friday.

But there’s also that big special on a $10 Canadian flag. It’s not in the Quebec flyer, not even on the back page. And while the bilingual flyer on the left (for Alexandria, Ont.) notes that the specials are for Canada Day, the one on the right doesn’t mention it.

Maybe there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. The Quebec flyer covers both the Fête nationale and the run up to Canada Day, so maybe Canadian Tire didn’t want to be seen favouring one holiday over the other. The inside pages reference both holidays at the top. And you’ll notice the product shots in Quebec have Quebec flags in the background.

Or maybe, like Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire thought it was best to play down Canadian patriotism so it doesn’t piss off the separatists.

Montrealer Ted Duskes, who spotted this, writes:

Talk about pandering. This is the second year in a row that they have pulled a similar “disappearing flag act”.

Are they really “Canadian Tire” or are they planning a name change to go along with the missing “Canadian Tire” that they have removed from their red triangular logo. Maybe the new logo is blue, with a fleur-de-lys, but only for Quebec.

They really know how to annoy a 45 year (formally) loyal customer.

I’ve contacted Canadian Tire to ask for an explanation. Here’s what I got back from Communications Manager Sébastien Bouchard:

Canadian Tire has a long history in Canada, including Quebec, and we are proud to be a true Canadian retailer. Our country spans from sea to sea and, like other retailers, our customer marketing vehicles vary from one region to another. This year, in Québec we decided to use a red background with white maple leafs to create a color theme that clearly reflects the Canada Day long weekend. True to our roots, this year’s flyer was definitely designed to celebrate life in this great country of ours.

In other words, a non-answer.

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STM takes down its totem pole

A new bus stop sign design was shown off with a new shelter design

Last fall, the STM showed off – with great fanfare – a prototype for a brand new bus stop shelter, which it installed on René-Lévesque Blvd. near Jeanne-Mance St. Installed along with it, a few feet away, was a prototype for a new bus stop sign pole, as seen above in this photo I took last week.

Cool, I thought, but as hip as it looked, it also meant losing a lot of information, such as what metro/train stops a bus will go to, whether it’s a rush-hour-only bus or express bus or night bus, and the bus stop code. All this information was moved to a panel lower down that has schedules and other info.

More importantly, I thought, it’s going to be more complicated to add routes to this totem pole, and you can’t indicate detours or disruptions in service like you can by slipping one of those temporary bus stop covers over the traditional signs.

With the new night bus network taking effect on Monday, adding four new routes to this stop (and the deletion of this leg of the 515 bus, which also took effect Monday), I passed by on Sunday to see if they had updated the totem pole.

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Nat Lauzon jumps to the Q

Nat Lauzon is too cool for weekdays

It won’t get the same attention as Terry DiMonte, but another veteran Montreal radio personality is on the move. Nat Lauzon, who has been at CJFM since 1999 (though it seems like forever) is moving to CFQR to take over a weekend gig there.

She’ll be doing the noon to 5 p.m. shift starting in October. She remains at Virgin Radio until then, where she does the weekday late morning show that is No. 1 in its timeslot with a 38% commercial market share, far ahead of its competitors.

So why leave a No. 1 weekday show at the No. 1 station to do a weekend shift?

Lauzon says she’s heading in “a new direction” and wants to focus on her other two passions – her freelance voice-over work and her Montreal Dog Blog (she’s got a thing for the puppies).

As for why this new schedule requires switching stations, well, she won’t comment. So let’s speculate irresponsibly. I’m thinking she just can’t bear to be at a station that doesn’t have Cat Spencer.

Meanwhile, Astral has posted her former job, weekdays 9am to 1pm. Minimum three years experience.

UPDATE (July 25): Virgin has hired Andrea Collins of 99.9 BOB FM in Winnipeg (a Bell Media station), to replace Lauzon in the 9am to 1pm slot. She starts Aug. 15.

Lauzon has written a blog post about her departure, in which she states that “my departure is all on good terms”.

Vive la Fête nationale – it’s our holiday too

l'Autre Saint-Jean at Parc du Pélican: Lots of bright lights in your face

CTV Montreal had one of their viewer polls on Thursday asking whether they plan to celebrate the Fête nationale. The result: 91% said no.

Those who believe in the stereotype of CFCF viewers, that they’re hardcore federalist anglophones who despise Quebec and the French language, won’t be surprised by that number. But I was. (And it wasn’t exactly a fluke either, their viewer polls, though voluntary and unscientific, still attract more than 1,000 responses on a regular basis, and this was no exception.)

It’s kind of depressing. Like me, many anglos complain that they’re not made to feel included in Quebec society, but then when given the opportunity to participate in it, they turn it down.

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Terry DiMonte returns to CHOM, and is back in Montreal for good

Terry DiMonte has lost some weight since leaving Montreal

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: They’re bringing back Terry DiMonte.

It was with a lot of excitement (well, one exclamation mark anyway) that Astral announced (in English and French) that DiMonte has been hired to host the morning show at CHOM for a third time. For DiMonte, the news was “a little bit bittersweet”, having to leave this new home in Calgary he had tried to make his own over the past three and a half years.

There is no word on who his co-hosts will be, but so far Pete Marier and Chantal Desjardins are expected to be able to keep their jobs at the station, even if they’re not on the morning show team.

The Gazette has posted a story about DiMonte’s return, as well as some videos that were created as part of a series on expat Montrealers in 2009: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. There were also briefs on CTV News and Global’s local newscast, but otherwise coverage has been light.

No date yet

When DiMonte will return to Montreal and its airwaves is still undecided. DiMonte signed a five-year contract with Calgary’s Q107 in late 2007, which means he still has about a year and a half left. The deal does allow him to get out early with six months notice, which was given on Wednesday. So depending on how the station plans to play this, it could be as late as Christmas before he’s allowed to return to Montreal.

“My intention was and is to fulfill my obligation for the next six months,” DiMonte told me over the phone on Thursday. Still, the decision is up to the station. They could have him keep working until December, or they could pay him not to work. But a small radio station with only four full-time staff that paid decent money to lure DiMonte to Calgary in the first place probably isn’t too eager to waste it on talent it can’t use.

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Be careful who you make fun of

QMI Agency reporter Julien McEvoy must have thought he had a pretty good scoop when he spotted an ad in a community paper from one of the new NDP MPs that contained some grammatical errors.

The ad was by Matthew Dubé, the former president of the McGill NDP club who had to quit because he got elected as an MP on May 2 in the riding of Chambly-Borduas (that’s the riding Jean-François Mercier ran in as an independent).

Politicians are always putting ads in community newspapers wishing them well during all sorts of holidays. But this one contained some errors. Specifically, two verbs were improperly conjugated, and the ad referred to the riding of Quebec (as in Quebec City), even though his constituency is just east of Montreal.

The Journal de Montréal printed the article on Page 2 on Wednesday (PDF), complete with a reproduction of the ad that circled its errors. At the end, it asks readers to weigh in on whether these kinds of mistakes will affect Jack Layton’s credibility.

McEvoy apparently made no effort to contact Dubé or the NDP for comment. They quickly responded after the story was published, saying it was the newspaper that was responsible. The NDP had not approved the final text of the ad, he says.

The party acted quickly, and got l’Oeil Régional to publish an apology on its website. The Journal and Canoë also published a follow-up piece.

But McEvoy didn’t back down. Despite the paper’s apology, he insists the error was still the NDP’s, that it was the party – not the paper – that drafted the erroneous text in the first place. He has also posted images of another NDP MP’s similar mistakes, and another ad that uses the logo for the NDP (in English, instead of NPD in French).

Perhaps this is why the original articles online have not been corrected or updated. Neither has this article, which erroneously refers to it as a card sent through the mail.

I shouldn’t need to explain why erroneous articles online need to be corrected. The mistake gets passed around a lot more than the correction. And people aren’t going to search the website of every article they read to see if a corrected article was published the next day.

Other articles posted online that used the QMI piece (without attribution or links) also sit uncorrected, including this blog post and this piece on CJAD’s website.

Whether you believe the paper or the NDP is ultimately at fault here (I’m more inclined to believe the latter, though I also think newspapers should proofread all their ads), there are some unfortunate implications of this story. It’s clear that the Journal and Quebecor have an agenda here and are pushing it. They feel the NDP MPs are incompetent and want to expose their troubles with the French language. This story is being fuelled as much by the usual sensationalist bias of the media (and particularly the Journal) as it is by Quebecor’s growing right-wing bias that puts the NDP in its sights.

There’s the fact that McEvoy appears to have made no attempt to contact a politician before publishing a piece designed to smear him. Whether or not such a smear is justified, basic journalistic ethics require at least an attempt to seek comment before publishing it. Had McEvoy done so, he would have learned of the NDP’s response and there would have been little need for a follow-up piece.

And then there’s the simple fact that L’Oeil Régional is now owned by Quebecor. Which brings up the question: Why were Quebecor newspaper employees not able to spot basic grammatical errors in an ad before it was published?

I’d ask these questions to McEvoy, but apparently the new rules of journalism say I don’t have to.

We open our arms to you, arrogant bastards

A new Impératif français ad shows young people holding up buttons that say "Oui! Je parle français"

I saw an ad tonight on TV from Impératif français, the French-language rights lobby group. What struck me most was that this ad was on CFCF-12. An anglophone station airing an ad for a group that seems, on its surface at least, to be so anti-anglophone. Kinda strange.

It turns out they launched a new ad campaign specifically targetting anglophones. And its press release actually sounds very progressive in its views of anglos in Quebec (emphasis mine):

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CJAD loses Habs broadcasts to Team 990

It was the worst-kept secret in the radio industry: Bell-owned Team 990 has secured the English-language radio broadcast rights to Canadiens games for the next seven seasons.

No financial details have been announced for the deal, but it’s clear that the station is putting some serious dough into this contract, because losing out again to Astral-owned CJAD was simply not an option. You can’t have an all-sports radio station that doesn’t carry broadcasts of the most popular sports team.

No announcement has been made about the play-by-play team yet, most likely because one hasn’t been decided. Still, rumours are spreading wildly, everything from Shaun Starr and Elliott Price to having the CJAD team move over to using the TSN play-by-play to bringing back Dick Irvin and the reanimated corpse of Danny Gallivan.

Okay, I made that last one up.


Though it’s great news that this little station that could has scored this contract, it’s a bit worrisome for critics of Canada’s media oligopolies. When Mike Boone wrote about the deal a couple of weeks ago, he said it was helped significantly by a deal Bell signed for regional English-language TV rights on TSN. Bell’s business agreements with the Canadiens are many (though Bell itself does not own the team), from the naming rights to its arena and practice facility to its French-language TV rights to mobile rights to broadcasts.

This deal takes Bell one step further toward doing with the Canadiens what Quebecor wants to do with a Quebec City hockey team and what Rogers wants to do with most of the professional sports coming out of Toronto.

There’s also, as one Team 990 personality told me during their recent 10-year anniversary party, the problem that the station might be restricted a bit in what it can say about the team. Doing impressions of Jacques Martin might not fly so well when you’re the official broadcaster.

What about CJAD?

Though it certainly can deal with not having the Canadiens easier than Team 990 did, CJAD is still going to have to find a way to fill hundreds of broadcast hours every season. And they’re going to have to deal with the loss of advertising that comes with losing such a big audience-getter. There’s no word yet on what they’re planning to do.

There’s a story in The Gazette and some discussion in the Radio in Montreal group.

UPDATE: Some comments from the peanut gallery on Hockey Inside/Out.

AMT acted quickly, but they can do more

A train bridge just west of the Mercier Bridge is being used more as the Mercier undergoes repairs

I can be a bit critical of transit agencies when they fail, so it’s only fair that I point out when they do something right.

Hours after the Quebec ministry of transport ordered the older of two spans of the Mercier Bridge be closed, the AMT announced that, starting Thursday (a day and a half after the closure), they would add three departures in each direction to the Montreal-Candiac commuter train line, effectively boosting its service by 50%.

The Candiac line, the youngest and least frequent of the AMT’s five commuter train lines, uses a railway bridge just west of the Mercier Bridge (Wikipedia tells me it’s called the Saint-Laurent Railway Bridge) between LaSalle and Kahnawake, and is unaffected by the Mercier’s closing.

The three new departures are inbound at 6:35, 8:25 and 10:30 am (the latter is notably the only train between 9am and 1pm), and outbound at 9:35am (the only outbound train before noon), 3:55pm and 5:55pm. You can see a schedule with these new departures here (PDF).

The AMT has also promised to increase parking by hundreds of spaces at the Candiac, Saint-Constant and Sainte-Catherine stations.

Now, if I were to be really cynical, I’d point out that of these six added departures, only one actually helps with the problem directly. The newer span of the Mercier Bridge is being open inbound between midnight and noon and outbound between noon and midnight, so that rush-hour traffic can still pass through. The problem is for off-peak traffic – those who go to the South Shore in the morning or to Montreal in the afternoon or evening. Only the 9:35am departure from Lucien L’Allier station will travel in a direction that car traffic is prohibited from taking. And that train is obviously useless for anyone who has to work at 9am.

The 1:20pm inbound train from Candiac is also an alternative at a time when it’s needed. That departure existed before. Unfortunately, there are no inbound departures after that for people who work anything close to a regular 9-to-5 shift on the South Shore.

On weekends, when traffic is only one lane in each direction, the Candiac line doesn’t run, so it’s useless. As far as commuters are concerned, that third span is just as dead as the first between Friday evening and Monday morning.

I commend the AMT for acting quickly to add train service during a stressful time for commuters. I hope it will be enough to entice some people to use public transit more often. But some more thought should be given to those who don’t fit the cliché of the South Shore commuter. People who live on the island and work day jobs in Kahnawake, Châteauguay, Candiac and other places nearby are getting screwed, and the train isn’t helping them much.

UPDATE (June 20): The Parti Québécois seems to agree with me.

A new Sherriffs in town

Catherine Sherriffs will anchor CFCF's 11:30 newscast (CTV photo)

CTV Montreal announced on Thursday that reporter Catherine Sherriffs has gotten the job as 11:30pm newscast anchor, left vacant since the departure of Debra Arbec to CBC last month.

Sherriffs’s appointment is effective July 4, which, coincidentally or not, is the same day Arbec is scheduled to begin as the 5pm anchor at CBC.

“I’m really excited to still be reporting, it will be great to get out into the city,” Sherriffs says in the story CTV posted online. “But being an anchor is what I always dreamed about. Literally, always. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”

Sherriffs, from Morin Heights, is a 2007 graduate of Concordia’s journalism program, and got her start on radio. She’s the niece of current CFQR newsman Murray Sherriffs.

The choice of Sherriffs is a bit (but not too much) out of left field. Either of weekend anchors Paul Karwatsky or Tarah Schwartz would have been an obvious choice. Or one of the veteran reporters. But not all of them were interested in a job that would see them lose their weeknights.

Sherriffs hasn’t been contributing to CTV long (in fact, she wasn’t even a permanent member of the staff), but her appointment reminds me of that of Andrew Chang at CBC, who was also a noticeably young (and tiny, and cute) pick but who has turned out to be a very good anchor.

Another pretty face

Of course, the first reaction from TV watchers, and the thing most of us are too polite to point out in public, is that Sherriffs is very pretty. The thought immediately enters one’s mind that she was picked for the job primarily for this reason.

Let’s be honest here: Looks do matter on TV. In a world where your boss will talk to you about your choice of tie, how you look is a big part of how you’re judged. I personally cringe at the thought of how random strangers would judge me if I ever got a regular job that saw my face (and fashion sense) on television.

Look around the dial and you see lots of pretty faces in TV news (not just on Sun News Network). There’s an element of self-selection in this – people (especially women) who are very pretty seem more likely to see themselves as television reporters, or have people suggest that to them. There’s a natural sociological force that brings pretty faces and on-camera TV jobs together. And there are decision-makers who, when presented with two candidates with equal skills and experience, will convince themselves that the prettier one actually has more skills or more experience.

We can say this is wrong, that people should be chosen for their mental qualifications and not their looks, but at the end of the day it’s ratings that matter, and ratings are driven by the viewers.

So, was Sherriffs chosen because she’s pretty? I can’t get into the head of the decision-makers at CTV, so there’s no way to know for sure what they thought consciously or unconsciously. My guess is that it was a minor factor in the decision. Sherriffs’s hosting experience comes from radio, where nobody really cares what you look like. And her work as a TV reporter gives no indication that she’s a dumb girl wandering the streets with a microphone. Pretty works, but it isn’t enough.

The real test will come next month, when she takes over the anchor chair and begins walking the fine line between being a serious news reader and being a warm, relatable human being that people are comfortable spending some time with before they go to bed.

It’ll probably be awkward at first, but give it a few months and she and their viewers will get used to each other.

I’ve never met Catherine Sherriffs, but from what I know about her through her colleagues and her work, I can tell you this: This is what she wants to do, and few people are as motivated as she is to succeed.

STM’s night bus overhaul increases service by 73%

On Wednesday morning, the STM convened the media to announce its overhaul of the night bus network, the biggest changes to the night service in more than a decade.

STM's new night bus network (click to enlarge)

There are a lot of changes here, and they’re summarized below, but the major themes are these:

  • Three new routes (353, 354, 376), all of which existed before – and along similar routes – long ago when night service first began in Montreal. The 353 serves the northeast end of the island, while the other two are express buses to the West Island.
  • All routes now operate seven nights a week. No more Friday/Saturday-night-only routes.
  • With few exceptions, the maximum wait time between buses is reduced to 45 minutes from an hour.
  • The other two West Island routes take dramatic turns halfway through their routes to serve a north-south axis: the 356 along Sources and the 382 along Saint-Jean and Saint-Charles. Before this change, there was no north-south link west of Décarie, which means if someone stayed until 2am at a bar in Ste. Anne de Bellevue and wanted to go home to Pierrefonds, they’d have to take three night routes, including a stop at Atwater, getting home at 4:30am, if they were lucky.
  • Four routes are extended to serve the downtown core between Atwater and Frontenac, bringing the total to six. In addition to the 358 Sainte-Catherine and 360 des Pins (which was a Friday-Saturday route) are added the 350 Verdun/LaSalle, the 355 Pie-IX and the 364 Sherbrooke/Joseph-Renaud, all along René-Lévesque, and the 356 Lachine/Mtl-Trudeau/des Sources, which goes along Sherbrooke. This has two main benefits: People who take these routes to get home will require one less transfer, and there will be more night buses travelling through downtown, reducing waiting times for those who want to get to the major hubs of Atwater and Frontenac down to about 15 minutes.
  • Hochelaga-Maisonneuve gets night buses on more streets. Before there was just the 364 along Hochelaga and the 355 along Ontario and Ste. Catherine (depending on direction). Now, there are four buses on different streets: 364 on Sherbrooke, 362 on Hochelaga, 355 on Ontario (in both directions) and 353 on Ste. Catherine. All four connect with the Frontenac terminal.
  • The 378 Sauvé/Côte-Vertu is extended west to connect to the Trudeau airport terminal.
  • The 362 Hochelaga/Notre-Dame is extended west to Frontenac.

With the three new routes, the extension of three others from three to seven days a week, and the increase in frequency, the number of departures goes up pretty dramatically, from 1,368 to 2,009 per week, an increase of 47% (note that this is by my hand count, so it may be off by a few). This doesn’t count the nine routes whose length has been extended, in some cases dramatically. In terms of hours of service, the increase is probably more than 50% is from 46,000 to 80,000 hours a year, a 73% increase.

The STM calculates that 95% of the people in the Montreal agglomeration now live within one kilometre of a night bus stop. It also estimates that transfers will be reduced by 25%

All changes take effect the night of Monday, June 27, along with changes to day bus schedules. The STM has posted a cute little Flash app showing the various routes.

Why did it take so long?

These changes are a long time coming, and follow some serious public consultation. As a public transit user, it’s hard to be against a huge increase in service. My criticisms, laid out below, are minor compared to the praise for the new service. If anything, my biggest reaction is to ask why it took so long to make these changes, and why the routes we’re bringing back were removed in the first place. (I have the answer to the second question, unfortunately: Ill-advised budget cuts to public transit in the 90s).

As a regular night bus user, I can attest that the service is underused by casual users. There are a few reasons for this:

  • confusion – the routes don’t match day routes, and it’s not obvious which ones to take or how and where to transfer
  • wait time – in some cases up to an hour between buses, and long waits for transfers
  • lack of shelter – this is a problem particularly in winter, but there are few places where one can wait for a night bus indoors

Many people who don’t like what the night bus service offers use alternative forms of transportation. Many take cabs, which is expensive but very convenient (and relatively worry-free when you’re drunk). But many people also prefer to drive home from bars at night, which presents the very obvious risk of drunk driving (and an even higher risk of “buzzed” driving, from those who are convinced they’re just under the legal limit). I don’t know if increasing night bus service will have a major impact on drunk driving stats, but if even a handful of lives are saved because a few people took a night bus instead of driving after a long night at a bar, I’d say it’s worth it.

“It”, by the way, is about $4.4 million, according to STM chair Michel Labrecque.

A bus wrap advertising the new night network is one of the ways the STM is getting the word out.

The new network will come with an advertising campaign to inform riders, which includes wrapped buses, social media, and a campaign organized with Labatt.

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Alouettes broadcasts return to CKAC

For the second consecutive year, the Alouettes have prematurely ended their deal with their official French-language radio broadcaster and switched to its major competitor.

It was announced on Tuesday that the Alouettes will be returning to Cogeco’s CKAC Sports for the 2011 season. CKAC will broadcast 20 games (the regular season has 19 18, so this covers all of those and the two preseason games), plus all playoff games.

Pierre Martineau, a spokesperson for Cogeco Diffusion, says the deal is for this coming season only, and some games will also air on Cogeco’s regional FM stations.

Having CKAC Sports broadcast the games seems like such a no-brainer, and indeed they broadcast the games for many years, signing a five-year deal in 2007. But that deal was mutually dissolved so that the Alouettes could strike a deal with Astral Media’s NRJ for broadcast rights in 2010. That deal was supposed to last until 2013.

The switch to NRJ wasn’t perfectly smooth. NRJ is a music station (like CHOM, which also broadcasts some Alouettes games), and license limits meant they couldn’t broadcast five games last season, according to La Presse.

Fans also weren’t crazy that NRJ used the RDS play-by-play audio instead of their own staff, though CKAC did the same thing.

A representative of the Alouettes did not immediately respond to voice mail messages requesting comment.

The Alouettes’ English radio rights are held by Astral, with games airing on CJAD and CHOM until 2013. It’s unclear if the move away from Astral on the French side will have any impact on the English rights. No doubt the Team 990 would be more than happy to pick up rights to Alouettes games, much like they would love to take rights to Canadiens games away from CJAD someday.

Last month, CKAC announced an agreement to air Canadiens games for two more seasons, ending in 2013-14.

STM’s in my lane

I went to a press conference on Tuesday that the STM organized to announce a new reserved bus lane being installed on St. Joseph Blvd. There were a few dozen people there, though most seemed to be employees of the city or the STM, as evidenced by their clapping after speeches.

There were a few journalists present, though they seemed more interested in Plateau Mayor Luc Ferrandez’s attendance record at city council meetings than yet another reserved bus lane that will take away parking spaces. There were no questions after the presentation.

I can’t blame them. Even for someone like me who’s interested in public transit, there’s little new here that doesn’t also apply to every other reserved bus lane in the city.

A city of Montreal truck blocks a bus stop zone as it loads equipment used during a press conference to announce new bus lanes

I couldn’t help noticing during the press conference that there was a car parked in the bus stop zone next to the Laurier metro station. It had a rotating light on the dashboard and seems to have been from a private security agent. Later, after the press conference was over, a city of Montreal truck pulled up and parked in the middle of the bus stop zone to load up the podium and other equipment.

The truck ended up blocking the arrival of the No. 46 bus, forcing it to leave its passengers off from the centre lane of St. Joseph Blvd.

There’s some irony here.

Night bus overhaul coming

Meanwhile, I asked STM chair Michel Labrecque (supposedly the transit users’ representative on the STM’s board) about the upcoming revamping of the night bus service which is coming on June 27. Labrecque feigned ignorance, saying something about not being in the right mindset to discuss it (even though he and one of his aides had, in fact, been doing just that). I was told there would be a news conference on June 15 to explain everything, but that they couldn’t go into details.

A bit odd since bus stop signs with the new numbers have already started appearing. Through the rumour mill we see that the STM will introduce three new lines – the 353 on Lacordaire Blvd., the 354 from downtown to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and the 376 from downtown to Pierrefonds (via Highway 40). All three routes had previously existed and are being brought back in areas similar to where they were years ago. In addition to this, many existing routes will be modified, mainly to extend them so they serve the downtown core (reducing the number of people who have to take the 358 bus and then transfer). The 355 bus will be one of those adding service downtown. The 356 will also be modified so it heads up Sources Blvd. instead of going all the way to Ste. Anne.

I’ll get you more details on those changes after they’re announced, after the schedules are released or after I get details from sources, whichever comes first.