The STM wants you to consider public transit if you’re going out to a New Year’s Eve party tonight. It’s promising “3700 designated drivers” to help take you home after you’ve been drinking.
Which is great. Except I can’t find any evidence that the STM is doing anything to improve service to make it easier for people to use public transit tonight.
This would seem like a perfect opportunity for the STM to run the metro all night, but it doesn’t do that. Nor is it running later than usual. Hell, they’re not even running it on a Saturday schedule, which would keep trains running an extra half hour. Instead, it’s the regular weekday schedule, which means the last trains leave Berri-UQAM just before 1am, and leave the terminuses as early as 12:30am. On the blue line, the last trains leave at 12:15. Which means to take one of them you basically have to yell “Happy New Year” as you’re walking out the door.
If you’re taking a bus to the metro, especially from somewhere like the West Island or Laval, you have to leave before midnight, which kind of defeats the purpose.
Demanding the metro run all night is a common request of STM users, and I understand why it can’t be met. Overnight is when the STM does maintenance on the tracks and in the tunnels, stuff that can’t be done while the trains are running.
But the metro has run all night before, such as during the annual Nuit Blanche event in February. Would it really be impossible to run it overnight one other night a year? Even at a reduced schedule, with trains every 20 minutes, would be far better than people waiting outside in the cold for buses.
Sure, it would cost money. Employees would have to work overtime, and because it’s Jan. 1 they’d get stat pay on top of that. But all the metro stations are open at the stroke of midnight, so metro employees are already missing the chance to drink champagne after a countdown.
Buses don’t solve the problem
The STM points to the night bus network as a way to get home after the metro is closed. And as a regular user of night buses, I can attest to their usefulness. But I can’t find any evidence that the STM is increasing service on night buses tonight, either. Instead, it’s the regular Thursday night schedule, in which most lines are running only once every 45 minutes. That’s a long wait out in the cold.
And of course the night buses don’t go everywhere. There are places in the West Island, St-Laurent borough and east end where the closest night bus stop is more than 1.5 km away. Starting from a home in Kirkland? You could be looking at a half-hour walk to the nearest stop.
Putting regular and night bus service on a Saturday schedule would be the least they could do. But they’re not. Or at least it’s not being announced, and if people don’t know the buses are coming they’re as good as useless.
This isn’t a complex problem to solve. It’s one night a year where a couple of extra hours of service would make a huge difference.
But instead, the STM is doing nothing except advertising “3700 designated drivers”, the vast majority of whom won’t be available after midnight tonight.