Category Archives: West Island

Some details of STM bus service improvements

In today’s Gazette, reporter Linda Gyulai has some details about improvements coming to west end bus service coming next month, in advance of tonight’s public meeting in Cote des Neiges. None seem as dramatic as the changes I talked about last week, but they’re still interesting.

STM to introduce Old Port bus, 470 gets weekend service

At its board of directors’ meeting this week, the STM approved a handful of important changes to bus service on the island. They include:

  • The creation of a new bus route, 515 Vieux-Montréal/Vieux-Port, which will shuttle tourists between the Berri-UQAM metro station and Old Montreal destinations. This is a much-needed bus for tourists and residents alike. Old Montreal is not friendly to vehicular traffic, and sees relatively little bus service, especially outside rush hour, requiring people to walk from the Champ de Mars, Place d’Armes and Square Victoria metro stations to get there. The 500 number is because the route is expected to take advantage of new reserved bus lanes which the city will install in Old Montreal.
  • Adding weekend service to the 470 Express Pierrefonds route. Originally a rush-hour express bus, its runaway popularity convinced the STM to add midday departures in both directions last October, and then extend the schedule to 9pm on weekdays. Adding weekend service was an expected change, as part of an overall plan for West Island bus service.
  • A small route change for the 194 Métrobus Rivière des Prairies between rush hours (when it currently takes the AM route)
  • Extending the 268 Trainbus Pierrefonds to the Côte-Vertu metro station. The one-way rush-hour-only bus is designed to facilitate transfers to the Deux-Montagnes train line at Roxboro-Pierrefonds. Eastbound, it terminates where the 68 does at Grenet and Gouin. Westbound, it starts at the Roxboro-Pierrefonds train station about 10 minutes after the train’s scheduled arrivals. It’s unclear if the extension applies only to eastbound trips or if westbound trips will be extended as well (and if so, how synchronization with the train will be maintained).
  • Creation of a new 220 Kieran bus route in Saint-Laurent, as part of a corporate partnership agreement. Kieran is a tiny street in western Saint-Laurent on the southern side of the Bois de Liesse. Such partnership agreements are usually created to offer transit service to industrial areas for employees of a specific company.

Unfortunately, the meetings don’t provide much details into these kinds of things, so I don’t have any information beyond what you see above.

Expect the changes to take effect with the next schedule change at the end of June.

Suburban border security

This prison-style gate between Pierrefonds and Kirkland makes the Great Wall of Acadie Blvd. look tame by comparison.

This is because of vandalism. People spraying graffiti and stuff.

Look, Kirkland, I know us Pierrefonds scum may scare you a bit, but we’re not all serial back-alley rapists. Perhaps you should tackle your vandalism problem in a less draconian fashion?

Chronicle just misses the sport

Jealous, I can only surmise, at other news outlets and their blog thingies, the West Island Chronicle has announced the creation of Sportlight (yes, with an “R”), a “blog” about Montreal’s professional sports teams, the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact. (It’s also available in French as Montréal en sport)

Sadly, despite their claims of being “experienced” and “up-to-the-minute”, they’re clearly neither. The journalists who write these blogs don’t cover these teams regularly (or at all). They’re just guys who watch hockey on TV and think they’re experts about it.

In other words, it’s just like all those other Habs blogs out there. Not worth seeing unless you know the authors personally.

The problem is that David is trying to slay Goliath on Goliath’s terms. The Gazette’s Habs Inside/Out blog takes advantage of the paper’s access to the team and its reporters’ experience to make it a comprehensive resource. Armchair sports analysts can’t compete with that, so why are they?

I noticed the same problem years ago with student media. Instead of concentrating on university sports where they have the access, time and resources to do a good job (and the lack of competition that would make them the best at what they do), some student newspaper writers prefer to rant about the Habs, doing bad imitations of professional sports writers.

There is no limit to sports that local reporters can cover. Junior teams, college teams, high school teams, all get ignored in big media because there are too many of them and they’re not interesting enough.

The ball is in the court of the local papers to write about local teams. Why is it trying to compete on a level it is guaranteed to lose?

Full disclosure: I work at The Gazette (though I don’t do anything on its Habs blog), and I once interned briefly at the Chronicle. launches, The Gazette’s “hyper-local” website serving West Island and western off-island communities, officially launches today. Page A2 in today’s paper has an article from editor-in-chief Andrew Phillips discussing the new site.

The site is pretty well unchanged since last time I mentioned it, except it has fewer bugs and more updated stories. (No changes based on Craig Silverman’s comments, for example.)

Phillips’s article also mentions upcoming changes to the editorial page, which will reduce space given to editorials and increase space given to letters to the editor (a change I think most people will welcome). There will also be more web-only opinion content, and Phillips’s blog, which I mentioned last week. The changes all go live on Monday.

209, 470 buses get extended schedules

The first step in the STM’s plans to overhaul West Island bus service takes effect Monday when the spring bus schedules start.

On Monday morning, two bus routes, the 209 Des Sources and 470 Express Pierrefonds, will take significant steps in the transition from rush-hour to all-day service.

The 209 (PDF schedule) will be an all-day (but still weekday-only) bus, with departures every 25-35 minutes during the whole day. Final departures will be at 10:55pm (from Dorval) and 12:05am (from Roxboro-Pierrefonds). The STM considers this a “trial run” according to the flyer (PDF), to be re-evaluated based on demand.

The 470 (PDF schedule) was turned into an all-day-weekdays bus in October, but that move was immediately criticized by myself and others because there was no service past 7pm. The STM has finally decided to rectify that situation, adding departures every half hour until about 9pm in both directions. That still doesn’t sound late enough (most Fairview buses run until midnight), and it’s still not service on weekends, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The next changes come in June with the summer schedules. They’re expected to include:

  • Operation of the 210 John Abbott bus throughout the summer to service Kirkland’s industrial park and other places along Highway 40
  • Simplification of the route for 219 Chemin Sainte-Marie
  • Extension of the 268 Trainbus Pierrefonds to the Côte-Vertu metro station

UPDATE (March 21): The STM is also making a fuss about modest increases to lines 77 CEGEP Marie-Victorin (PDF flyer) and 86 Pointe-aux-Trembles (PDF flyer)

Gazette creating West Island hyper-local website

I was sworn to secrecy, but Roberto let the cat out of the bag so he can take the flack if it’s still supposed to be a secret.

West Island Plus

The Gazette has been working on a West Island portal (called “West Island +” though its address is, a mix of newspaper stories and user-submitted content that pretty much fits that “hyper-local” mold that everyone’s talking about these days.

Its key feature is that stories are categorized based on location, allowing you to search for all things that take place in Pierrefonds (for example). The locations fall pretty well along the same borders as the former municipalities (though the 40 people who live in Ile Dorval might get ticked off at being lumped in with the bigger city). It also includes Ile Perrot and Vaudreuil-Dorion/St. Lazare/Hudson, which are also included in the Gazette’s West Island delivery area.

The site is still not quite ready for its official launch, which is expected later this month.


I think there are a lot of good things about it, and a lot that can be improved (it’s a bit wide for me, forcing a horizontal scroll bar for those dozen or so pixels off the side).

The big question, of course, is whether user-generated content will turn this into the online destination for thousands of West Islanders, or whether the signal-to-noise ratio will be too low for people to wade through it all.

There’s only one way to find out.

UPDATE: Craig Silverman, a freelancer and blogger, takes issue with the terms of service, which he accuses of “bad faith” because it demands you waive moral rights (i.e. the right not to have your work distorted to say the opposite of what you mean, or the right to not have your name and image used to endorse a product without your permission), it demands free reign to publish and sell your content to others (“in perpetuity throughout the world”) and it demands that you waive the right to sue them for defamation or anything else no matter what they do to you.

It’s the kind of clauses you’ll find on just about any big corporate website, whose administrators throw it on there without thinking about it (or even probably reading it). But that doesn’t make it right.

Montreal Geography Trivia No. 8

(Bumped with new answery goodness)

There is a single traffic light in the City of Montreal where it is permitted to turn right on red (after making a complete stop, of course, following the code routière). But 75% of the time, this issue is moot.

Where is this traffic light, and why isn’t it an issue most of the time?

UPDATE (Jan. 16): The answer is at the corner of Jacques-Bizard Blvd. and Cherrier St.

Jacques Bizard and Cherrier

This intersection, just on the other side of the Jacques-Bizard bridge, is the only traffic light that’s inside the city (part of the Ile-Bizard/Ste-Geneviève borough) that’s not on the island (other islands like St. Helen’s Island don’t have enough traffic to justify a light, and Nuns’ Island has some philosophical objection to the idea of one). And since the right-turn-on-red exception is for the island of Montreal (and there are no signs specifically prohibiting right turns on red here), right turns are allowed.

But the issue is mostly moot, because for three of those directions there are short-cuts that avoid the light. Only traffic headed west on Cherrier turning north onto Jacques-Bizard would find this information useful.

Map: Jacques-Bizard and Cherrier

Of course, if you lived on Île Bizard, you’d know this already. You’re reminded of it each time you cross the only bridge off the island:

No rights on red on the island of Montreal

More West Island bus changes coming

Last week, the STM held a public consultation in the West Island, bravely exposing itself to the onslaught of residents with a lot of time on their hands and just as many complaints about how everything is run.

During the consultation, STM planning director François Pépin explained some changes that are coming to West Island bus routes over the coming years. Some changes will happen as early as next March while others will wait until 2009 or 2010.

Continue reading

Census data doesn’t show anything new

As you might expect, the media went crazy over reports from the 2006 census that the percentage of francophones has dropped and the percentage of anglophones is up slightly for the first time in three decades.

The numbers are hardly staggering. The number of Quebecers who speak French at home is still over 80%.

The West Island Chronicle breaks down the West Island numbers, though it does so in prose so it’s hard to tell what’s actually going on. Basically, the West Island is following the trend, with little difference in anglo/franco ratios but a big jump in allophones through immigration.

Ile Sans Fil might get a big boost from City Hall

Ile Sans FilMy first dealing with Île Sans Fil came a few years ago when I was at Concordia. I was talking with this guy who had a crazy idea of setting up wireless hotspots all over the place and letting people connect to them for free.

Though I thought the cause noble, I had my doubts, chiefly because Internet service providers were against the idea of people sharing their access. It put more strain on bandwidth and removed a layer of accountability. Concordia, which had strict rules about sharing Internet access because it had a fat pipe and didn’t regulate bandwidth, didn’t let them set up.

So they went elsewhere. Coffee shops in the plateau were helpful, because it would give the young early adopters of this Wi-Fi thing a reason to come to their shops and order coffee. The network expanded and now it has hotspots all over the city.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with Evan Prodromou at Caffè Art Java (an ISF hotspot), interviewing him for an article that will hopefully come out before I have grandchildren. He briefly said hi to a friend of his from ISF and mentioned that they’re finally, after all this time, talking to the City of Montreal about municipally-backed hotspots.

Today, it looks like those talks were fruitful. La Presse’s Tristan Peloquin has the scoop through a document ISF handed to him that was obtained by him yesterday. The city will be offering the group $200,000 a year for five years to setup and run 400 wireless hotspots in public areas of the city, including Place des Arts and all 17 nature parks in Montreal, (parks like Mount Royal Park, Jean-Drapeau, Angrignon Park, Cap St. Jacques, Ile Bizard, Lafontaine Park, Maisonneuve Park and Jarry Park).

The proposal still has to be presented to the executive committee, who will have the last word.

UPDATE: The slide presentation about the project is online (PDF)

Greek flag is visual pollution

Theodore Antonopoulos, the Pierrefonds resident and soccer fan who painted a Greek flag onto his garage door and then had to fight the city to keep it there, has lost a court battle in which he claimed that a by-law prohibiting signs of that nature violated his right to free expression.

The Pierrefonds bylaw (By-Law 1047 Article 124.2) prohibits “a sign that is painted or reproduced on a building, part of a building or a fence.”

The legal argument centred around two questions:

  1. Is a flag a sign? Should the striped pattern of the Greek flag be treated no differently than a Viagra advertisement?
  2. Does it unnecessarily violate our freedoms to prevent someone from painting something on property they own merely because the painting’s content violates your taste?

Antonopoulos lost on both counts. The judge’s summation is telling:

People cannot paint just what they want on their homes, what about the aesthetic aspect?

What if everyone painted their sports team, their country flag, even Mickey Mouse on their home? If everyone expresses their patriotism, that is visual pollution and not harmonious to the neighbourhood.

Though I think it’s debatable whether a city’s desire for boring suburban conformity neighbourhood aesthetics should trump the freedom to do as you wish with your property.

But here’s my question: What if he’d just painted stripes on his garage? Or, say, the flag of Libya? Is that a “sign” or just a colour choice? At what point does a painting design on your garage have enough content to allow it to be restricted?

UPDATE (Dec. 10): He’s appealing.

Hindsight is 470/20

The West Island Chronicle looks at the new extended service on the 470 Express Pierrefonds, which you’ll recall had weekday daytime service added to it a couple of weeks ago.

Based on conversations with users, the article concludes that the extended service is popular, but people are annoyed with the fact that there’s no service after 7pm or on weekends. They’re also having trouble with connections, missing the bus by a few minutes:

“Anyone who has university courses until 7pm or right after has to take two buses to get home, it’s really annoying,” she said.

Another point of contention seems to be that the bus’ arrival and departure times at the Fairview shopping centre, which is the West Island’s largest bus terminal, do not line up conveniently with those of other buses leaving Fairview.

David Chernofsky, a Dollard des Ormeaux resident, said that he had to wait 15 to 20 minutes on average for the next 208 bus when exiting the 470 at Fairview.

Really? If only someone predicted exactly that before the service started

That’s great news, unless you plan on staying downtown past 7 p.m. or want to go downtown on the weekend. And really, how many kids in the West Island would want to do that?

Another problem is with the schedule. About half the people who use the bus (based on my oh-so-scientific anecdotal guesstimation) use it solely for its metro shuttle part, and use another bus to get between home and Fairview. Most of those buses run every half hour on the half-hour, so they’re timed to arrive at the terminus and drop off their arriving passengers a few minutes before the half-hour mark.

Thing is, all but two of the eastbound departures from Fairview take place six minutes before the half-hour mark, about the same time as these buses are arriving. It’s a schedule that seems almost designed to make people miss connections from about a dozen different bus routes, and I can’t seem to find any reason why the schedule as a whole can’t be delayed by six minutes to make the transfers easier.

I-told-you-so’s aside, it’s good the STM is recognizing this so quickly. Expect more evening departures and schedule realignments. The STM will be meeting with West Island mayors today to discuss bus service further.