Category Archives: Public transit

New bus route coming June 21: No. 19 Chabanel / Marché Central

I didn’t think it was coming because it wasn’t listed on the Planibus page, but it turns out the new No. 19 bus is being launched on June 21 after all.

19 Chabanel / Marché Central is a quick shuttle between the Crémazie metro station and Marché Central along Chabanel.

Unfortunately for eager Marché Central shoppers, it only runs after 8pm on weekdays. The idea, I imagine, is to take over from the 54 bus once it stops running at 7:30pm. The 54 connects Marché Central with Crémazie via St. Laurent, but also has parts east and west of those two places that the STM has probably judged aren’t worthy of service past 8pm.

The 19 will have 10 departures eastbound and 11 departures westbound between 8pm and 12:30/1am, Monday to Friday.

Those wanting to access Marché Central on weekends will still be stuck with the 179 from Acadie station, or taking a short walk from stops of the 100 (on Crémazie) or 146 (on Meilleur).

More service on STM routes 80, 120, 165, 470 and 747

(Updated with changes to route 120)

The STM’s summer schedules are out, and very little is changing on June 21 (except for the new No. 19 bus, which I’ve written about separately).

Otherwise, there are a three schedule changes and one route change worth noting:

80, 165 to run concurrently with 535: The Parc and Côte des Neiges buses currently stop running during rush hour, making room for the 535 reserved-lane bus, which makes a giant U around the mountain and runs along both axes. I’ve always found this a bit bizarre, because it means a long time between driver breaks, and nobody is realistically going to travel down one and up the other. The stretch along René-Lévesque Blvd. connecting the two is filled with mostly empty buses even at the height of rush hour, which empty and fill up at the Guy-Concordia and Place des Arts metro stations.

The STM is helping to alleviate this by having the 80 and 165 buses run during rush hour along their 535 counterparts. This means they can maintain the same level of service along the heavy-use axes (the STM even says service will improve), while cutting down on all those empty buses along René-Lévesque. Those who use the 535 along René-Lévesque or otherwise make use of the 535 between the two metro stations can still do so, and buses will still run every six minutes or less.

120 extended to Dorval station: The 120 Lachine/LaSalle, a recently introduced bus connecting Angrignon metro to Lachine, has been extended westward to terminate at the Dorval train station instead of 55th Ave.

470 to run until 1am: This one is as predictable as it is long past due. The agonizingly slow progression of service on the 470 Express Pierrefonds will finally be complete as late-night departures are added, meaning the route will run past midnight seven days a week. Despite Marvin Rotrand using every excuse to call this route a “home run”, it’s taken more than five years from its launch in 2005 as a rush-hour-only route until it finally got all-day service. Midday service was added in 2007, then service was extended to 9pm weekdays in 2008, then weekend service was added a few months later.

Currently, the final departures are about 9pm weekdays and about 6:30pm weekends in both directions. Starting June 21, final departures from Côte-Vertu metro westbound will be 1:58am on Saturday nights (Sunday mornings) and 1:30am all other days, to coincide with the last metro trains arriving at Côte-Vertu. Eastbound, the final departures will arrive at Côte-Vertu around 12:30am Saturdays and midnight on other days.

A few weeks ago, on a trip to Pierrefonds, I had to take the 64 bus from Côte-Vertu and transfer to the 68 in Cartierville. I noticed about a dozen people making the same transfer, even though it was about midnight on a weeknight. Many of those people will be better served by this service, as will many who now drive, take commuter trains or don’t travel at all because they can’t take the two-hour trip.

On a side note, this will extend the hours of the Fairview bus terminal by an hour (from 1:20am to 2:20am) on Saturdays and half an hour (1:20am to 1:50am) on other days. Currently the 207 bus is the only one with a departure after 12:35am. Its 1:20am departure takes transfers from the last westbound 215 bus, which leaves Côte-Vertu at 12:40am (in fact, the STM has the same bus and driver do both departures). People who live in the middle of the West Island will be able to leave almost an hour later and still get home.

UPDATE (June 23): The STM’s press release about the 470 also says that starting August 30 the first departure will be timed to meet the first metro train at 5:30am. This will mean at no time will there be a metro that is not met by a 470 bus.

747 service every 10-12 minutes: The runaway success of the 747 airport express bus, which is pleasing everyone but cab drivers, has convinced the STM to boost its service during the day. During the day between 8am and 8pm, service intervals will be 10-12 minutes instead of 15-30 minutes, in both directions, seven days a week. Early morning, late night and overnight schedules are unchanged.

The STM says it will also be installing more fare machines at the airport, at Station Centrale and other touristy locations that dispense proper fares for the 747. Passengers can pay the $7 fare on the bus, but the fact that the machine doesn’t accept bills or give change makes it incredibly inconvenient for many travellers.

The STM says machines at “a dozen or so” metro stations will also be able to give out the fare, which works as a 24-hour pass for the entire STM system. I’m not sure why they can’t just have all machines give this out. Not only can a trip to the airport start from anywhere, but a $7 day pass can be useful for people who have no intention of using the 747. A couple of weeks ago, some out-of-town friends came by for a day trip, and were told by a metro attendant that to get the $7 day pass they had to buy (each) a $3.50 Opus card (the old scratch-style tourist passes are no longer being sold). It’s silly to ask a tourist to buy a smart card they might use once or twice when the 747 bus hands out disposable cards that do the same thing at no extra cost.

Other changes, like the creation of a new bus (No. 19) that serves Marché Central, will have to wait until the fall, it seems. Turns out the 19 is launching this summer after all.

The airport-train link: Let’s put our cards on the table

It seems like forever that we’ve been arguing over which route should be taken by the new train linking Trudeau airport with downtown. In fact, I wrote about the debate almost two years ago.

Airport train's possible routes: CP route to Lucien L'Allier (red) and CN route to Central Station (blue)

Using existing railways, there are two possible routes, each of which ends at a different terminus:

  • Using CP tracks that go through NDG and Westmount, ending at Lucien L’Allier station just outside the Bell Centre. This is the same path used by the Dorion/Rigaud train line.
  • Using mainly CN tracks, passing through the Turcot interchange and St. Henri and ending at Central Station. This is the path used by VIA trains to Toronto and Ottawa.

This debate is in the news again because Aéroports de Montréal (which runs the airport) and the Agence métropolitaine de transport (which runs the commuter trains) are having a pissing match, refusing to give in on their choices. The AMT wants to use the CP route, because it’s cheaper and because it uses tracks (and stations) already used by the AMT. ADM wants to use the CN route because it leads to Central Station and downtown hotels.

Both camps are now using quantitative data to make their cases. Joël Gauthier, of the AMT, points to the fact that the CP route is significantly less expensive – $786 million vs. $1.1 billion. James Cherry, of the ADM, points to a study that shows ridership would be 22 per cent higher if the train ended at Central Station.

Various third parties are also jumping in, some on Cherry’s side making the Central Station argument, others on Gauthier’s side for Lucien L’Allier.

Despite what both these men think, the issue is neither obvious nor is there a desperate need to make a snappy decision. Yeah, it’s been years, but these studies are only coming to light now, and this kind of study is the difference between a billion-dollar project and a billion-dollar boondoggle.

That said, unless there’s some other serious study that needs to be done, it’s about time to make a decision. So let’s put all our cards on the table. Here are, from what I can see, the benefits of each route:

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Côte-Sainte-Catherine metro station to close this summer

The STM announced in its Info STM page this morning (PDF) that major work at the Côte-Sainte-Catherine metro station will require it be closed completely between May 17 and August 23. Such closures tend to happen, particularly in stations with only one access, when construction and repair work would make accessing the station impossible.

Such repairs are scheduled during the summer because there’s fewer people using the metro and it’s not as annoying to walk a few extra blocks in 20-degree weather as it is in minus-20-degree weather.

While the station is closed, a shuttle bus service will be setup, with stops at Plamondon, Côte-Sainte-Catherine and Snowdon stations.

Among other summer projects the STM is planning in the metro:

  • Work on two accesses to the Côte-Vertu metro station will require the closure of the southern entrance on Côte-Vertu, and later the entrance on Édouard-Laurin. Some buses stopping outside those entrances will be detoured. The main entrance on the north side of Côte-Vertu (next to the main bus terminus) will remain unaffected and the station will remain open.
  • Work at Assomption station will force people to use an alternate entrance, though again the station will remain open.
  • Work is scheduled to begin later in the spring at the Du Collège and Place Saint-Henri stations. The nature of that work has not been released yet.

Montreal Geography Trivia No. 75

What – and where – is this?

UPDATE (April 27): John is the first to get this right below: This is the inside of what used to be a bus shelter on Pie-IX Blvd., specifically the one at Jarry St.

I didn’t know it when I posted this question, but it’s actually somewhat of a trick one. You see, the objects in this photograph aren’t there anymore.

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Montreal Geography Trivia No. 73

Back to transit this week, on a suggestion from reader Zain Farookhi:

What bus stop is shared between the most bus lines?

(Note that for the purposes of this question, a terminal with multiple stops is not considered one stop.)

UPDATE: Steve Hatton is the first to get the right answer.

STM bus stop at René-Lévesque and Mansfield (westbound)

This stop at René-Lévesque Blvd. and Mansfield (that’s the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in the background) has 10 bus lines serving it as of March 29:

Of those 10 routes, two are less than a month old and two others are less than two years old. Before last week, the answer would have been (unless I’m mistaken) the stop at Brunswick Blvd. and St. John’s Blvd. outside the Fairview mall in the West Island, which is served by nine routes all coming out of the terminal.

Kellergraham points out an alternative that also has 10 routes serving it.

The transit nerd express

It’s hard to believe, but there are people out there who are more nerdy about public transit than I am.

Take the folks at Transportation Research at McGill (TRAM). They don’t just do this as a hobby, chasing after buses with their cameras. They actually study public transit, and their work has results.

When the STM decided it would make a lot of sense to setup a limited-stop express line on St. Michel Blvd., it partnered with TRAM to perform some serious analysis of the plan.

TRAM first used data about existing passengers on the 67 line to estimate time savings in this rather academic-looking document (PDF), even providing different scenarios of where the 467 should stop for maximum efficiency.

After the 467 was put into service, they went back and looked at the average run times for both the 67 and 467 after implementation, and asked passengers to fill out a survey (PDF).

In October, Masters student Julien Surprenant-Legault produced this report (PDF) on the before-and-after numbers.

He explains:

I became involved after the 467 service’s implementation on March 30, 2009. [Professor] Ahmed El-Geneidy and I evaluated the accuracy of the previous estimatess, quantified times savings, and assessed customers’ satisfaction. We finished the study at the end of July 2009. The study that we have done is unique and is opening a new field of research; therefore, no comparable study presently exists.

As for the results, the estimates were 11% to 19% savings for run time on route 467, and the actual ones are 13%, which is in the expected range. Savings could have been higher without the introduction of the OPUS card, an electronic payment system that slightly slowed boardings. Still, the STM made some improvements to the payment boxes in order to speed up boardings; also, people now have had some time to adapt themselves to the new system. The trip on route 67 originally took 35 minutes, which decreased to 34 minutes after the implementation of route 467. Route 467 run time is 31 minutes (savings of 4 minutes 20 seconds).

A slide from Julien Surprenant-Legault's presentation about the effects of the 467 express route

Surprenant-Legault theorizes (correctly, I believe) that the major reason the improvements weren’t as high as predicted was because of the introduction of the Opus smart card between the before measurements and the after measurements. As I’ve written about before, the Opus card and magnetic-stripe card require additional seconds for each passenger, either to hold the Opus against the reader or insert the card into the slot, wait for it to read, print out a validation and then spit it back out. Instead of passengers boarding two seconds apart, they now board five or six, making the whole trip slower.

One interesting finding in the study is about passengers’ perception of time savings:

For route 467 riders, a statistically significant difference exists between their estimates and the actual savings. Real travel time savings were on average 1.5 minutes per trip, while users estimated them within a range of 6.9 to 11.9 minutes. For route 467 riders, a statistically significant difference exists between their estimates and the actual savings. Real travel time savings were on average 1.5 minutes per trip, while users estimated them within a range of 6.9 to 11.9 minutes.

If we assume this same phenomenon could be replicated on other lines, it means making a lot of passengers happy with not much investment.

You can get more about this study from this presentation (PDF) given by Surprenant-Legault.

Transportation Research at McGill hosts weekly seminars about transportation issues. Surprenant-Legault kicked off the winter 2010 session with the presentation mentioned above. The last one of the season is Thursday at noon, featuring Sébastien Gagné, Kevin Beauséjour and Jocelyn Grondines of the STM’s planning department. The presentation is in Room 420 of the Macdonald-Harrington Building on McGill’s main campus, and is free and open to the public.

Another workaround to bad elevator design

Modified emergency button at Berri metro elevator

Remember back in September when I predicted that the design of the panel on the metro elevators would cause a problem because the call button and the emergency button were the same size and shape, and placed in such a way that an inattentive passerby might mistake the emergency button for the “up” button?

And then when the elevators actually opened there was a quick redesign that put big arrows toward the call button?

Well turns out the STM has implemented a more permanent solution to the problem of people mistaking the buttons. This transparent plate, which easily swivels out of the way, gives this button a more nuclear-missile-launch vibe to it, and will probably prevent most people from pressing it unless they’re absolutely sure they either need help or want to prank the security guards.

The new panel. Press here, NOT HERE!

Man arrested for eating foreign cheese on reserved train

"Ce train est reservé aux amateurs de fromages d'ici"

He says he didn’t see the sign warning him, but police say that’s no excuse. Jacob Lafortune was arrested yesterday morning after he was spotted by inspectors eating a non-Quebec cheese on a commuter train that was reserved for fans of local cheeses.

Police say the inspectors approached Lafortune and asked him to hand over his block of imported Swiss cheese or leave the train, but he refused. Police were called and Lafortune was charged with trespassing. He was released on bail with a promise to appear at his next court date, scheduled for August.

This is believed to be the first case of an arrest in this campaign, which has reserved everything from stairwells to metro platforms to be used only by fans of local cheeses.

The crown prosecutor has vowed to pursue this case to the fullest extent of the law, arguing that people cannot just ignore these space reservations in a civil society.

Quebec’s consumer rights body says it may intervene in the case, saying the government has no right to demand allegiance to any kind of food in public areas or on publicly-funded transportation vehicles.

STM tidbits: Three new routes, two new metro designs

New schedules start March 29

The STM will be introducing three new routes and extending a fourth during its quarterly schedule change (links go to Planibus PDFs):

  • 120 Lachine/LaSalle (Mon-Fri all day): Though not officially an express bus, this is being billed as a faster alternative to the 110 Centrale that connects Lachine with the Angrignon metro station. It has 18 stops compared to the 110’s 53 stops. Western terminus is Victoria and 55th Ave., passing through the Lafleur-Newman bus terminal, and then the Angrignon metro. Its eastern terminus is actually the Carrefour Angrignon. Service on the 110 bus is not being reduced.
  • 196 Parc Industriel Lachine (Mon-Fri daytime): An STM bus that connected nowhere with nowhere now goes somewhere: the eastern (northern?) terminus has been extended from Cavendish and Côte-Vertu to the Côte-Vertu metro station. There’s also a minor kink about halfway through the route that takes Joseph-Dubreuil St. to 32nd Ave.
  • 427 Express Saint-Joseph (Mon-Fri westbound mornings, eastbound afternoons): An express doubler for the 27 Saint-Joseph during rush hour, this bus keeps going after it reaches the metro, going down St-Denis and Berri and then René-Lévesque to terminate at the Guy-Concordia metro station. This will minimize transfers (taking many workers straight to their offices) as well as take some pressure off one of the most congested sections of the metro system during rush hour: the orange line between Laurier and Berri-UQAM. Only 32 departures each day, but it’s highly targetted to rush hour, with a headway of only 10 minutes. Service on the 27 is unaffected. (UPDATE: Seems Plateau mayor Luc Ferrandez has some concerns about this bus)
  • 747 Express Bus (24/7): The airport express bus, discussed in more detail in this post.

Metro cars may have fewer seats

Though it was reported back in January, it seems more certain now that, with all the delays pushing back the new metro car contract, the oldest cars still in service, the MR-63s used on the green line, will need to be kept longer and get an interior redesign to fit more people.

Unfortunately, the only way to fit more people into a confined space like this is to remove seats. The STM was to have put two prototype cars in service yesterday – one removes single seats near the ends of each car, while the other removes single seats near the centre of each car (removing double seats, like was done when the MR-73s were refitted, apparently isn’t feasible with these cars because of all the equipment underneath the double seats).

Obviously, not everyone is happy about the idea of squishing even more people into these cars and taking away the cherished single don’t-have-to-touch-anyone seats. Discussions are already under way at and the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board about it.

All-articulated bus routes in June

The Gazette’s Andy Riga has gotten Marvin Rotrand to tell him that three lines – 121 Sauvé-Côte-Vertu, 467 Express Saint-Michel and 535 R-Bus Du Parc/Côte des Neiges – will be served only by articulated buses as of June. Articulated buses will also be used on the 80 (Du Parc), 139 (Pie-IX), 165 (Côte-des-Neiges) and 67 (Saint-Michel) within a year, with studies about whether to expand them to the 18 (Beaubien), 24 (Sherbrooke – downtown), 105 (Sherbrooke – NDG), and 197 (Rosemont). Aside from having high ridership, the routes also need longer stop zones to accommodate the longer buses.

New daycamp fare

Buried in Riga’s piece is mention of a new type of fare the STM will be introducing on June 1. A daycamp fare will cost $12 and cover a trip for adult and 10 children under 13. (Children 5 and under already ride free with a fare-paying adult). This is similar to the family pass they brought in in 2008, which allows kids to ride free with their parents, but only on weekends and holidays.

This new fare will be welcome news for all those who take large groups of children on public transit, but will probably suck for a lot of people if this means more armies of prepubescent kids board STM buses around the island.

Service disruptions reported on Twitter – twice

In case you missed it, the STM is now finally reporting on the status of the metro system using Twitter and Facebook, as well as on their homepage. So far it has reported only one disruption – the green line going down on Sunday.

Annoyingly, the reports on Twitter and Facebook are all done twice – once in English and once in French. Nevermind that the STM hasn’t been the most English-friendly organization on the planet in the past, but why not just setup two accounts if you’re going to do that?

STM’s 747 Airport Express launches March 29

The Société de transport de Montréal had a whole thing today, inviting members of the media out to the airport to show off their new bus route. I was tempted to go, but I don’t get up before noon unless I really have to.

The route is the 747 Express bus, which finally provides a direct, non-stop link between downtown and Dorval Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. It replaces an awkward public transit travel itinerary that involved taking the metro to Lionel-Groulx, hopping on the 211 or 221 and squeezing in with all the West Island kids, then either waiting half an hour at the Dorval train station or walking across the entire airport parking lot to get to the terminal.

It also replaces La Québécoise’s Aérobus shuttle service between the bus station and the airport that used to run every half hour and cost $16. (And that was already much cheaper than the flat-rate $38 for a cab from downtown to the airport.)

More details from Cyberpresse, The Gazette, CTV, CBCRue Frontenac, Metro, the STM’s press release, the airport’s press release (PDF), or the Planibus with route and schedule (PDF).

The route enters service on Monday, March 29, and will be the STM’s first 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year bus service.

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TRAM 3 at Longueuil: Right decision for the wrong reason

This morning, apparently, the Montreal Metropolitan Community (which coordinates issues affecting Montreal and its suburbs) decided that, beginning in July, the Longueuil metro station would be subjected to the same fare rules as those in Laval: Montreal passes would not be accepted, and users would instead need a TRAM 3 multi-zone pass to enter the station.

The news came out not through the STM or the MMC, but via Longueuil mayor Caroline St-Hilaire, who sent out a press release expressing her outrage:

“Je ne peux pas et je ne vais pas cautionner ça!”, a déclaré Caroline St-Hilaire, en indiquant que toutes les dispositions nécessaires seront prises pour que l’entente signée et valide jusqu’en décembre 2011 soit respectée.

This led to stories at Radio-CanadaCyberpresse and Rue Frontenac, which follow the narrative St-Hilaire has created. Metro goes a bit further, adding that about a quarter of people who use the Longueuil metro use the $70 CAM instead of the $111 TRAM 3. (UPDATE: The STM’s Odile Paradis says it’s more like 15% of users, or 3,000 to 4,000 people.) The TRAM 3 gives access to the Réseau de transport de Longueuil bus network and the Agence métropolitaine de transport’s commuter trains in Longueuil.

Why this change? Well, it makes sense, especially considering what’s going on in Laval. The AMT has established zones for transit that crosses into multiple territories, and Longueuil is clearly in Zone 3. The fact that it accepts CAMs just like the rest of the STM network is more historical than anything. That’s just the way it’s been.

Even St-Hilaire accepted, it seems, that this would eventually change after 2011. But she’s mad that Montreal and the STM appear to have gone back on their word and is doing this ahead of schedule.

(The Parti Québécois, meanwhile, jumps on an opportunity to pander to suburban voters and demands that government step in to not only reverse the decision but to reduce the fares for Laval users as well.)

This is happening, St-Hilaire says, because of Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, who is refusing to pay for Laval’s share of the taxpayer cost of the metro because he feels his city is being discriminated against. So he decided to take the transit system hostage until Montreal acquiesced to his demand that Longueuil be treated the same as the Laval stations.

Ironically, while this decision would theoretically mean that Laval will start paying its share, the release also says that Longueuil will refuse to pay its share for the metro until further notice.

Vaillancourt, meanwhile, says his city will now start paying its share of the STM’s metro deficit, but it won’t pay retroactively for the years that Laval paid more and Longueuil paid less.

This is absolutely ridiculous. These mayors are all acting like children, and apparently no adult is either able or willing to step in. Instead of suing Laval so the city lives up to its contract, or having the provincial government step in and order them to respect their agreement, everyone is acting as if Vaillancourt has a legitimate bargaining chip in his hand and is bending over.

Can I start refusing to hand over tax money until I get free pizza delivered to my apartment?

Still a good idea

If St-Hilaire is right and there is an agreement until 2011, then the decision should be overturned and postponed until then. But requiring a TRAM 3 pass at Longueuil just makes sense.

The people who will be affected by the change are people who don’t use the RTL bus network, either because they live near the metro station (a tiny minority) or because they drive to it in their cars. We’re talking about 3-4,000 people, including those who park in the 2,370 parking spaces outside the Longueuil metro. And to park there, they have to pay about $100 a month in parking fees. In other words, if they’re taking the bus from home and using a TRAM 3, they will pay significantly less ($111) than they did parking at the Longueuil metro and using a CAM to get into the station ($170). Less convenient, but cheaper.

Perhaps there’s a group of people I haven’t considered who would be driven into bankruptcy by this decision, but I can’t imagine they will be a large number.

Of course, St-Hilaire loses nothing by taking the stand she takes. Longueuil people like to use their cars, and they like not having to pay for things if they can get away with it. Just like everyone else.

It’s time for Longueuil to realize that it is a suburb, and transit is more expensive there because of that. And it’s time for politicians in all three cities to realize that holding your breath and screaming “NO NO NO!” is not a valid negotiation tactic.

At least, I desperately hope it’s not.

UPDATE (Feb. 5): Nathalie Collard of La Presse agrees that this is silly, as does Projet Montréal, which suggests reducing the number of trains going to Laval and Longueuil.

La Presse also has a vox pop on the subject, and you can imagine what the opinion of the populace is.

UPDATE (Feb. 10): A Facebook group has started up.

Opus subscription comes with guarantee

The STM has launched its Opus subscription program, which allows people to register for automatic Opus card renewal through pre-authorized credit card payments or direct deposit.

Though the service offers no financial incentive (like a 12th month free), it does come with a replacement guarantee, which means that if you lose or break your Opus card, you can get it replaced, with the fare on it, for only the cost of the card itself.

The Opus system was supposed to offer this for all card holders, but for some reason it has been delayed. So far it is only offered for cards that come with photo ID.

2009-10 guide to holiday transit

Mostly cribbed from last year’s guide.

Here’s what to expect from the Montreal-area transit authorities for service this holiday season, including special holiday service schedules and free service days.

Once again, I ask that you have some sympathy for the bus or metro driver who has to work during the holidays getting whiny vomiting drunk people from A to B in thick snow.

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