Tag Archives: bus routes

Analysis: STM’s new West Island express buses

On Friday, the STM finally gave details about its four new West Island express buses set to launch April 2, just over a week from now.

They were designed partly as a way to mitigate the coming traffic disaster that is the Turcot Interchange rebuilding, and partly to convince more West Islanders to start using public transit during rush hour.

As a West Island boy myself, and someone who commuted downtown for five years, I’m very familiar with the transit service there and understand the frustrations of people who live in that part of the island and work in the city. I had been waiting for years for a bus like the 470 Express Pierrefonds – a direct shuttle bus between the Fairview bus terminal and the Côte-Vertu metro station – and was very unsurprised when it turned into a huge hit with riders, quickly expanding from a rush-hour-only route to one that operates all day, seven days a week.

The Planibus schedules of the new routes are online. The 475 is here (PDF) and the rest are packaged together here (PDF). None of the buses run past 7pm or on weekends. But as we saw with the 470, if there is a lot of interest in these lines, the STM will eventually extend their service.

Here’s an idea of what each of the four new routes is like, and my feelings about them:

405 Express Bord-du-Lac

Route: From the MacDonald terminus near John Abbott College to Lionel-Groulx metro station. The route is virtually identical to the 211, so much so that I wonder what the point of it is. The only difference is that it takes Highway 20 non-stop from St. Charles Blvd. (it doesn’t stop at the Beaconsfield train station) to Dorval, except for a stop at St. Jean.

Schedule: Departures about every 20 minutes from 6am to 7pm in both directions.

Target clientele: People who live along Lakeshore/Beaconsfield west of St. Charles who find the 211 too slow.

Bottom line: The 211 is already an express bus east of Dorval, and it already has an express doubler in the 411 (formerly 221). The part of the 405 east of St. Charles is virtually identical to the 411, and the part west is identical to the 211. I have a hard time figuring out what this route offers that isn’t already available on the 211 or 411.

425 Express Anse-à-l’Orme

Route: From the Anse-à-l’Orme/Timberlea terminus down Chemin Sainte-Marie and Beaconsfield’s Sherbrooke St. to the Beaconsfield train station. East of Beaconsfield Blvd. and St. Charles, the route is identical to the 211, including the deviation through Carson St. in Dorval.

Schedule: Departures 20-30 minutes apart, eastbound from 5:40am to noon, westbound from noon to 7pm.

Target clientele: People who live in Kirkland and Beaconsfield between the two highways, in an area right now served only by the 217.

Bottom line: Because the 217 doesn’t go anywhere besides Fairview, this route should be a welcome addition for people who live near Chemin Sainte-Marie and Sherbrooke in Kirkland and Beaconsfield. But I don’t get the detour through Carson in Dorval, especially for an express bus (I don’t get why it’s done for the 211 either).

475 Express Dollard-des-Ormeaux

Route: From the Dollard Civic Centre near Lake and de Salaberry (where parking is being made available to commuters), along Highway 40 to the Côte Vertu metro station (south entrance, where West Island buses used to stop and Laval buses do now). The entire trip is 23 minutes.

Schedule: Every 15 minutes exactly from 6am to 9am eastbound and from 3:30pm to 6:30pm westbound.

Target clientele: People with cars who live in Dollard des Ormeaux near Sources Blvd.

Bottom line: Commuters who live east of St. Jean, and particularly near Sources, have had to either double back to Fairview to take the 470, or take buses like the 206, 208 or 209 or 214 and transfer at Roxboro or Dorval. An express network hasn’t really been built with them in mind. This new bus might prove to be more popular than the STM imagines, leading to a 470-like quick expansion (the schedule is rather disappointing, especially considering the service on the other new routes announced). But while the 470 stops at a major terminus, the only other bus serving the Dollard civic centre is the 208. Let’s hope the STM thought to put stops at Sources so there are transfer points with the 209 and 214.

485 Express Antoine Faucon

Route: From the new extension of Pierrefonds Blvd. past Château-Pierrefonds, via Antoine Faucon, St. Charles, Brunswick, de Salaberry, St. Jean (with a stop at Fairview), then non-stop along Highway 20 (except a stop at the Dorval terminus) until Lionel-Groulx.

Schedule: Varying from 10 to 30 minutes apart, from 5:30am to 7pm eastbound, and 6am to 7pm westbound. During the height of rush hour, only half the buses do the route west of Fairview.

Target clientele: People who live in western Pierrefonds but aren’t walking distance from the 470 on Pierrefonds Blvd. and/or who prefer a bus to a metro station closer to downtown.

Bottom line: The interesting part of this route isn’t the part west of Fairview, since the route is almost identical to that of the 218, but rather the fact that it’s the first time that the Fairview terminus is connected directly to a downtown metro station. Having often taken a 202/211 trip to Lionel-Groulx in the days before the 470, I can understand the benefit of this to people who work downtown. I could see this becoming very popular for that part (just like many people take the 470 only from Fairview to Côte-Vertu), which might encourage more people to take public transit and take some pressure off the 470 and 211/411. For people along the existing 218 route, and along St. Jean between the highways, this provides a transfer-less way downtown.

Reserved lanes

New routes are great, but of course they’re useless if everyone taking the buses just gets stuck in the same rush-hour traffic as everyone else. To mitigate that, reserved bus lanes are being installed:

  • St. Jean, from Pierrefonds to Highway 40: Buses and multiple-occupant vehicles (2+). Southbound in the morning and northbound in the afternoon. To be done this summer.
  • Pierrefonds, from Jacques Bizard to St. Jean: Buses and taxis only. Eastbound during the morning only. To be done this fall or spring 2013.
  • Highway 20, from 55th Ave. to 1st Ave.: Buses only. 24/7 in both directions. To be done this fall or spring 2013.

In addition, there’s existing reserved lanes on St. Patrick and Notre-Dame which will allow the buses serving Lionel-Groulx to avoid Highway 20 traffic east of 1st Ave.

The STM also says Lionel-Groulx will have a new terminus, that will accommodate these three new routes and make things easier (and maybe less confusing) for transit users.

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 metrodemontreal.com 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.

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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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.

STM adds St. Michel bus route starting Monday


The new bus 41 Quartier Saint-Michel/Ahuntsic

The Société de transport de Montréal does its quarterly schedule change on Monday. There are the usual minor improvements to bus schedules.

The biggest change is a whole new line, the 41 Quartier Saint-Michel/Ahuntsic (PDF), whose route is above. It links the Sauvé station on the orange line, the Saint-Michel station on the blue line and upper Pie IX Blvd. (The result is a pretty sharp U shape, which makes it unlikely people will use it for its whole length, and makes you wonder why they didn’t just split it in half at Saint-Michel and create two routes.)

Service will be weekdays excluding holidays, from 5:30am to 9pm, with departures spaced about 20 minutes apart.

In other changes to bus schedules and routes:

The next schedule change comes in June. That’s when the STM’s major overhaul of its night service (including the addition of three new routes) is expected to take effect. The changes were supposed to be approved at the last board meeting but were pulled off the agenda at the last minute.

On the South Shore, the RTL is planning its own changes the following week (starting April 4). They are outlined in pamphlets for Brossard and Boucherville.

STM bus route changes coming Jan. 3

A few changes to some bus routes as the new schedules take effect Monday morning:

New route for 25 Angus as of Jan. 3, 2011

25 Angus: The most radical change happening Monday is the 25 bus, which is being redirected to the Rosemont metro station instead of doubling the 24 to the Sherbrooke metro station. It now takes Molson, Masson, Iberville and Rosemont. Though still a rush-hour-only bus, the number of departures is nearly doubled, going from five to nine in each direction during each rush hour.

46 Casgrain: The westbound part of this tiny route is being modified. Instead of taking Laurier westbound from Rivard to Casgrain, it takes Saint-Joseph west to Saint-Laurent, and then doubles back to Casgrain along Laurier.

89 Gouin/Perras: This line is discontinued, merged into the nearly identical 48 Perras. About every second departure of the 48 becomes 48X, taking a minor detour via Langelier and Ozias-Leduc

STM launches seniors’ routes in Côte St. Luc, Cartierville

Route for 262 Côte St. Luc

Last week, the STM launched two new seniors’ buses, bringing the total to 10. These routes, served using minibuses, take winding routes through neighbourhoods on select weekdays, stopping at residences, shopping centres, CLSCs and other places that would be of interest to seniors.

The plus side is that seniors get door-to-door service with a driver who isn’t rushed by rowdy schoolkids. The minus side is that the routes are slow and the schedule is atrocious: departures are more than an hour apart and service is only offered on some days of the week.

The STM started the seniors’ buses with two routes in the west end in 2006 – one in Côte des Neiges and the other in N.D.G. Both lasted about a year before they were canned due to lack of ridership. Still, they soon launched other buses, mostly on the eastern side of the island: Montreal North, St. Michel, Rosemont, Rivière des Prairies, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Mercier, Anjou, and one in LaSalle. Most follow the same idea, offering service between rush hours on two or three weekdays. And for some reason, the STM has deemed these successful enough to keep them around longer.

Now they’re coming back to the west side, going after an area that has a lot of seniors and not much public transit.

The 262 Côte St. Luc (PDF) starts in the area around the Cavendish Mall, then down Cavendish and Côte St. Luc Road until Westminster. From there it heads non-stop to the Carrefour Angrignon shopping mall (though not to the nearby metro station). It has four departures in each direction on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The 263 Bordeaux-Cartierville (PDF) passes through the residences near Acadie Blvd. on the east side of Highway 15, then goes along de Salaberry, O’Brien, Gouin and Laurentian, and non-stop to the Place Vertu shopping centre. Again, no stop at a metro station. The bus also has four departures in each direction, but on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The buses are designed and marketed for seniors but accept regular fare and passengers of any age (though this isn’t made abundantly clear and even some drivers have apparently been under the incorrect impression that it’s reserved for those over 65).

I’ve never been one one of these routes, and I don’t know what their ridership figures are like, but fortunately we’re only talking about a minibus or two for six hours two or three times a week, so the cost is fairly low for each route.

STM fall schedules: “10 minutes max” and a new seniors’ route

UPDATED Aug. 31 with STM’s claims of increased West Island service

STM’s “10 minutes max” network (click for PDF)

The Société de transport de Montréal went all out announcing a new gimmick this week. It’s called “10 minutes max network” and it seeks to reassure transit users (and potential transit users) that buses within this network will arrive in no more than 10 minutes from when you get to a stop. Affected bus lines (there are 32 in all, or 31 if you count the 106 and 506 as one route) will have this graphic added to stop signs.

It comes into effect with schedule changes on Monday morning.

There are, of course, some caveats: It’s only between 6am and 9pm, only Mondays to Fridays (excluding holidays), and for 21 of the 32 routes, it only applies in one direction at a time (6am-2pm in one direction, 2pm-9pm in the other).

Affected routes:

  • In both directions: 18, 24, 51, 67, 69, 80, 105, 121, 139, 141, 165
  • One direction at a time: 32, 33, 44, 45, 48, 49, 55, 64, 90, 97,103, 106-506, 132, 161, 171, 187, 193, 197, 211, 470*

UPDATE: A blogger has created a subway-style map of these routes here.

Even under those rules, I spotted quite a few cases where it didn’t apply, particularly at the edges of those time blocks. A departure might be set for 8:45pm, and the next one after 9pm. I guess “close enough” is good for the STM here.

Despite my criticisms though, looking at the before and after schedules for the affected routes, there are serious efforts at improving service (at least during these time blocks – with a few exceptions it seems very little effort has been made to improve service after 9pm or on weekends).

Most of the routes on the lists are the STM’s most highly trafficked. In many cases, no change in schedule was needed to comply with the “10 minutes max” rule. In others, the headway was already as low as 12-15 minutes, so bringing it down to 10 wasn’t a huge deal.

But changing the headway from 12 minutes to 10 means going from five departures an hour to six.

There is also significant improvement for 7pm-9pm, when many routes which had headways of up to 20 minutes now see the number of departures as much as doubled.

Some highlights:

Continue reading

STM knew 515 bus would have pointless leg to it

The Gazette’s Andy Riga has a story out today about the 515 bus to the Old Port, and the problems it has attracting riders – particularly as it uses a route that the mayor wants to replace with a tramway eventually.

The problems are familiar to this blog’s readers: the route is confusing with its yellow and blue signs, travels through an area of town (René-Lévesque Blvd.) already served by plenty of transit services, doesn’t do enough to attract and inform tourists, it tends to get stuck in Old Montreal traffic, people in Old Montreal tend to prefer to walk to their destinations to and from nearby metro stations (particularly in the summer), and the new residential developments it was supposed to serve (like the new Griffintown) haven’t yet emerged.

But Riga brings up an interesting point through his access-to-information request and interviews: The STM knew way back in 2007 that a circular route taking René-Lévesque Blvd. would be a waste of money:

A March 2007 study, also obtained under access to information, suggested that the route eventually chosen, particularly the section along Rene Levesque Blvd., would “increase operating costs” and duplicate service offered by “numerous other lines.”

The federal Old Port of Montreal Corp., which took part in the study, favoured the longer route that used Rene Levesque, and that was eventually accepted.

Riga quotes STM planning head Michel Tremblay saying this summer would be a “last chance” for the 515, after which the STM would re-evaluate the chronically underperforming bus route.

The article also says there have been no studies or surveys conducted for the 515 bus since its launch. So I guess I just imagined this detailed survey that was presented to a public consultation by the city last year based on a study of the 515’s use by passengers in 2008. Either that or the STM was unaware of it, which seems silly.

Riga also has some supporting documentation on his blog, which shows the STM predicting some huge spike in ridership in June that hasn’t materialized.

UPDATE (April 30, 2011): Andy Riga has more info in The Gazette, saying that cutting this useless stretch would save $882,000 a year.

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.

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.

Continue reading

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.

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 MetrodeMontreal.com 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?