STM to renumber bus routes in January

The STM’s fall bus schedule starts next Monday (Labour Day). The Planibus schedules are on its website, as are various press releases touting improvements to service.

But the biggest change to come out of this won’t take effect on Sept. 6. Instead, the STM is giving advance notice that 26 of its routes will be changing numbers in January, when the winter schedule takes effect.

The change, according to an internal publication that was posted to the forum, is to make things easier for users to understand, by having the number indicate the type of bus route. Express and reserved-lane buses will be numbered 4XX, where XX matches the last two digits of the associated all-day route on the same axis. The 221, for example, is being renumbered 411, so people will see it as the express version of the 211. The 182, an express bus to Pointe aux Trembles, becomes the 486, or the express version of the 186.

The changes will also carve out a spot for seniors’ shuttles, which have awkwardly been given numbers mixed in with West Island routes. (The 261 is a West Island route, but the 260 and 262 are both seniors’ shuttles.)

Roughly speaking, here’s how the numbering system works now:

  • 1-9: Reserved for metro lines
  • 10-199: Regular bus routes
  • 200-299: West Island bus routes (and seniors’ shuttles)
  • 300-349: Unused
  • 350-399: Night bus routes
  • 400-499: Express (limited-stop) routes
  • 500-599: Reserved-lane routes (545 is used for special shuttles)
  • 600-699: Unused
  • 700-799: Special routes (so far only 747 is used, for the airport shuttle)
  • 800-899: Unused
  • 900-999: Unused

In January, the system will be reworked so it becomes more like this:

  • 1-9: Reserved for metro lines
  • 10-199: Regular bus routes
  • 200-249: West Island bus routes
  • 250-299: Seniors’ shuttles
  • 300-349: Unused
  • 350-399: Night bus routes
  • 400-499: Express, Metrobus, Trainbus and reserved-lane service
  • 500-599: Unused
  • 600-699: Unused
  • 700-799: Special routes (particularly those marketed to tourists)
  • 800-899: Unused
  • 900-999: Unused

Bus routes being reassigned into the 400 range:

Current route New number Matching route*
77 Cégep Marie-Victorin 444 44 Armand Bombardier
120 Lachine/LaSalle 495 195 Sherbrooke/Notre-Dame
143 Métrobus Charleroi 440 140 Fleury
148 Métrobus Maurice-Duplessis 448 48 Perras
159 Métrobus Henri-Bourassa 469 69 Gouin
173 Métrobus Victoria 496 196 Parc Industriel Lachine
182 Métrobus Sherbrooke 486 186 Sherbrooke Est
184 Métrobus Bout-de-l’Île 487 187 René-Lévesque
190 Métrobus Lachine 491 191 Broadway/Provost
194 Métrobus Rivière-des-Prairies 449 ???
199 Métrobus Lacordaire 432 32 Lacordaire
210 John Abbott 419 219 Chemin Sainte-Marie
214 Des Sources 409 209 Des Sources
221 Métrobus Lionel-Groulx 411 211 Bord-du-Lac
261 Trainbus Saint-Charles 401 201 Saint-Jean/Saint-Charles
265 Trainbus Île Bizard 407 207 Jacques-Bizard
268 Trainbus Pierrefonds 468 68 Pierrefonds
505 R-Bus Pie-IX 439 139 Pie-IX
506 R-Bus Newman 406 106 Newman
535 R-Bus Du Parc/Côte des Neiges 435 None

* Some of these are best guesses. There is no official list.

There are a few other changes as well. Three buses are being added to the 7xx range:

  • 167 Casino becomes 777 Casino (get it? Triple-sevens?) (No word on its alternate routes toward the Casino and beach)
  • 169 Île Ronde becomes 767 La Ronde (supposedly in reference to Expo 67)
  • 515 Vieux-Port/Vieux-Montréal becomes 715

As well, some routes are changing numbers so they fit in better with this scheme:

  • 132 Viau becomes 136 Viau, so there can be an express bus at 436 (the 432 is being used for the Lacordaire express, matching 32). a rapid bus transit system is being conceived along Viau.
  • 251 Sainte-Anne becomes 212 Sainte-Anne so the 250+ block can be reserved for seniors’ shuttles. The 251 is a special minibus that carries regular passengers through the narrow streets of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. The number it takes used to belong to the 212 Lakeshore, which was a rush-hour double of the 211 that took Lakeshore Rd. all the way to Dorval Ave.
  • 480 Pointe-Nord/Île des Soeurs becomes 178, presumably because they will no longer consider this route an express bus

As the 132 case shows, this new system of numbering has a simple flaw: There are more than 100 regular bus routes, which means there isn’t enough space in the 4xx range to accommodate them all. We’re adding 20 to the eight existing routes, which means a quarter of the numbers are already taken.

Plus, a lot of these 400-series express routes aren’t exact matches to the regular ones, which could confuse users. And then there’s the cost of replacing hundreds of bus stop signs.

Still, it’s not necessarily such a bad idea. It makes it easier to see at a glance whether a bus is a local or express bus, and giving reserved-lane buses their own category makes less sense now that we’re adding reserved bus lanes all over the island.

But some of these numbers have historical significance. The 210 has a special place in John Abbott lore. The 167 and 169 are no doubt on a lot of tourist information, and the 132, 182 and 184 have existed for many years.

But I guess people will just get used to it.

More evening service on three routes beginning Sept. 5/6

There are some changes, though most are minor, that are taking effect now. They are:

  • 77 Cégep Marie-Victorin gets 5 new departures northbound and 5 new departures southbound added to the end of its day, extending its service from 3pm to 7pm northbound and from 6:15pm to 9:45pm southbound. This represents an increase of 1,000 hours a year to this route, according to an STM press release. The route remains a school-day-only route.
  • 173 Métrobus Victoria gets evening service, now going to 10pm instead of 7pm in each direction. Nine new departures eastbound, with service about every 20 minutes during that span. Westbound, service during rush hour drops to every 15-20 minutes from every 10-15, so the total number of departures actually only goes up by one. Still, the STM says these changes will add 2,800 hours of service a year.
  • 194 Métrobus Rivière des Prairies gets evening service, running until 10pm weekdays instead of 7pm, in both directions. Six new departures in each direction will add 4,000 hours of service a year to the line, the STM says. It remains Monday-to-Friday only.

West Island routes to synchronize with trains

The STM has announced additional departures for West Island buses serving the Roxboro-Pierrefonds and Sunnybrooke train stations, so they are better synchronized with trains to and from Montreal during rush hour. As far as I can tell, these are not reflected in the posted schedules for these buses. Changes that are marked are noted below:

  • 205 Gouin gets two new departures eastbound – one in the morning and one in the early afternoon – so wait times are reduced. It gets a single new departure westbound at exactly 6pm (other departures remain unchanged), five minutes after the 5:25pm train from Central Station arrives. The STM says departures are being synchronized with the train, but if that’s the case it hasn’t been reflected in the fall schedule yet.
  • 206 Roger-Pilon gets three new departures eastbound in the morning rush-hour, and the times synchronize well with the Deux Montagnes train inbound, with buses arriving 5-10 minutes before the scheduled departure. Those taking this bus for the 9:12am departure are screwed though, as it comes in the middle of a bizarre 48-minute gap in service (otherwise it’s about every 20 minutes). Those people will have to take a bus that leaves Fairview at 8:04am (16 minutes earlier than the one they’d currently take) and wait about 45 minutes at the station.
  • 208 Brunswick gets two new departures westbound in the afternoon rush-hour and three new departures eastbound in the morning rush-hour. They don’t appear to be properly synchronized with train departures and arrivals.
  • 209 Des Sources gets three new departures southbound before 8:30am, dramatically reducing time between departures in the morning rush from about 30 minutes to about 15. Northbound schedule is identical. The route remains Mondays to Fridays only.

Major changes to seniors’ shuttles

Route changes, more stops and additional departures are some of the changes for seniors’ shuttles, which are minibuses that take zigzag routes to serve residences, shopping centres and other points of interest a senior might choose to go to.

  • 252 Navette Or Montréal-Nord will serve Place Bourassa and the local Wal-Mart with stops in their parking lots, reducing the distance seniors will have to walk. Otherwise the route is unchanged. (Press release)
  • 254 Navette Or Rosemont gets a major route change, so much so that it’s barely recognizable. Now instead of a circular route with service in one direction, it’s a linear route with two. Gone is service to the Viau metro station, the borough office on Iberville and the mall (and other stops) on Jean-Talon. Added are the CLSC Rosemont, Loblaws and Angus Square on Rachel St., and the Galeries d’Anjou. The number of departures also goes down, from 10 departures in one direction to eight departures in two (four in each direction). Departures are now two hours apart instead of about 45 minutes, though it will mean less of having to go round in an hour-long circle to get from Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital to Beaubien and Lacordaire. (Press release)
  • 256 Navette Or LaSalle has its route made a bit more complex, adding stops. It will also see an additional departure – westbound at 3:30pm – and the schedule changes a bit. (Press release)
  • 257 Navette Or Rivière des Prairies sees a route change, adding stops along Maurice Duplessis, and cutting the detour that takes it to the CLSC. It adds one departure eastbound at 3:35pm, making four in each direction. The departures are also a bit less predictable, no longer exactly two hours apart and leaving each terminus on the hour. (Note someone screwed up the Planibus, marking eastbound as westbound and vice-versa, and referring to its terminuses as Angrignon Blvd. and Jean-Milot St., which are the end points of the 256) (Press release)

Also of note

The Villa-Maria metro station reopens Tuesday.

19 thoughts on “STM to renumber bus routes in January

  1. ant6n

    As more and more parking lanes become bus lanes during rush hour, I wonder how much sense it will make to rename buses to 4xx to signify that rush hour change. It seems to me that the buses don’t become a whole lot faster compared to the off-peak; they merely make the bus run as fast during peak periods as during the off-peak, despite all the extra car traffic.

    And if these rush hour buses don’t even match the ‘regular’ routes, then it gets even more confusing.

    Btw, the 435 best matches the 80+165

  2. AlexH

    I read all this and all I can think of is “your tax dollars at work”.

    I mean, holy crap. What a lot of effort to do little but add confusion, make tourist reference out of date, and generally to waste money on new signage. I guess they need to do it from time to time, but it does seem like a whole lot of not much, for what is likely a pretty steep cost.

    I will remember why I pay so much gas tax as I look at all those lovely new signs at the empty bus stops I have to stop at because the traffic lights are sync’ed for bikes.

    1. Aaron

      “I will remember why I pay so much gas tax as I look at all those lovely new signs at the empty bus stops I have to stop at because the traffic lights are sync’ed for bikes.”

      You’re paying that gas tax to keep the roads you’re driving on maintained in (hopefully) decent condition. And where the hell are there any lights sync’d for bikes? I’m a driver and cyclist and I can’t think of anywhere with lights sync’d for bikes – and certainly not at one possibly good place to actually do it, the Parc / des Pins intersection.

  3. Circeus

    I’ve always wondered… how many regular bus roads ARE there in Montreal anyway? I lived with the RTC for years and they do very well with 3 series (1-99, a few routes in the too-199, and everything else in the 200-299 and 300-399 which can both exist for a regular routes).

    One would think that an obvious solution is for, say, 0-99 routes to have their express at 4XX and the 100-+ at 5XX!

  4. emdx

    Who else remembers the “400” series “express” routes of more than 40 years ago where you had to pay 2 tickets to ride, and whose buses had little green flags???

  5. sklar

    The 419/210 is more like an express version of the 200 than of the 219. Although the 219’s route is similar (both start near Fairview and pass by the Collisee movie theatre), 2he 219 doesn’t go to Abbott, which is pretty much the sole purpose of the 210. The 200 does.

  6. Jimmy Jack

    Totally off topic, but WTF was with Saturdays Gazette? NO current news, nothing but wire copy and features. Nothing happen on Friday? A worker was killed on the A30 project. Wouldn’t have known by reading my local paper.

    I trust the management is sending everyone a refund.


    1. Fagstein Post author

      Totally off topic, but WTF was with Saturdays Gazette? NO current news, nothing but wire copy and features. Nothing happen on Friday?

      Well, there was CKAC changing formats, the McGill strike, the Gatti case, the Robert Bélanger sentencing, the gym teacher sex assault trial, the Heart Institute researcher being fired and
      the Quebecor/Quebec City arena deal, all of which happened Friday and had stories in Saturday’s Gazette. (I won’t include the Blue Bird memorial story, since that happened Thursday night.) There were also locally-written features, plus business, sports, arts and life.

      But yeah, clearly nothing happened on Friday and the paper’s budget is being spent on hookers and blow.

      By the way, a story about that A30 worker who died is in Tuesday’s paper.

  7. SMS

    As long as the bus gets me to my destination – they can number it as they see fit.

    No word on changing the 935, probably because that service is provided under contract to the STM by the AMT.

  8. Francis

    I’d hoped that they would also have numbered the 10-minute max series differently also.
    I would put them in the 800-899 range, including the 470 and 535/435, despite its being an “express”.
    This would make the frequent lines numbered specially.
    (See Catbus’s lovely maps)
    It would be a similar numbering, stature and service to Quebec City’s Metrobus network.
    I really think a sexier name could also be devised for the frequent service network . RBus was a good one, so was Metrobus. Those could be recycled.

    The 900-999 series is I think informally reserved to the AMT. Or it should be.
    The AMT really should think about numbering (or better yet, lettering) their train lines.

    If/when we get trams and “SBR” (BRT) lines, those will need special numbering too. 500 (like TO’s streetcars) and 600 then, respectively?
    Or make a Parisian-style system (letter+number like T1 and S1)?

    Another idea: Mx for metro, Rxx for trains, Sxx for BRT, Tx for trams, Fxx for frequent…

    Just my thoughts. Great site! Thanks!

  9. Francis

    By the way I’m rather for the changes.
    A good clean-up.
    Only that I would have renumbered the 535 as simply 400. Or 480. Anyway, something with meaning…
    Same with the 515 to 715. 700 or 717 would have been “cuter”.

    Now I just hope they put more info on the bus signs they’re going to have to redo.
    Like maybe the line’s name and where it ends?!?

  10. Steve Hatton

    This will no doubt cause some confusion, but the changes mostly make sense.

    However, for what it’s worth, I do disagree with a few of them. There still seems to be some inconsistency in what they consider to be an express bus. I agree that the 120 and 77 should be labelled as express but then it begs the question, why not the 211 as well. After all, it runs non-stop between Dorval and Lionel-Groulx.

    I know, the rest of the route is long and tedious, but still if the point is to remove confusion then it show be included. Believe or not, I actually know someone who almost got on the 211 at Lionel-Groulx thinking that he could get off around the corner near the Atwater market.

    Also, I really wish the STM would let go of their fantasy regarding R-Buses (506, 535) being a form of an Express Bus.

    Finally, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the changes concern routes like the 120 and the 480 which are still fairly new (i.e. The 120 has only been around since March of 2010), which begs the question why didn’t they label them properly from the start.

  11. Vahan

    I don’t care what numbers they throw on the front of each bus, as long as they are on time. But here is the kicker, they are never on time when it is cold or raining, yet there are 4 535 busses and 2 80’s when the sun is shining.

  12. Francis

    I agree with Steve. Lines like the 211 and the 470 are really the same type.
    The 48, 49, and a couple of the Pointe-aux-Trembles lines also have express sections but become local further out.

    Since they’re all “10 min max” frequent lines, numbering them as such may be more obvious.
    400-series expresses should be mostly limited service lines too.
    The 10 min max frequent lines should not be placed among them, since an express is often thought of as a rush-hour line, and most of them are.
    So maybe 400’s for limited express and let’s say 600’s for frequent expresss?
    How about 411 rush express (the ex-221) and 611 all day (the ex-211)?
    (Or, how about 420 and 620, since they follow Hwy 20? And then similarly 640 for the 470?)

    – 400 limited service express
    – 600 frequent service express
    – 800 frequent service local.
    The 3 services could co-exist on the same axis, actually, like on Henri-Bourassa Blvd East.

    I also agree with getting rid of the old R-bus distinction with the 106+506/406 completely too. It’s the same local line just on a reserved lane. The rush hour number change is useless, since more and more local lines will also be on reserved lanes and they don’t change number just for rush hour, like the 18 now.

    However, if they’re thinking of making them co-exist and have the new 406 be the 106’s limited-stop buddy (like the 67+467 pair, which is a success), then yes, keep the distinction. The 406 would then be a true express.

    As far as the 535/435, it’s an overlay not a replacement, so that could stay.
    But still, either call it 480 or 465, or get a new number that’s sexyer ;) like just 400 or…


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