Tag Archives: bus routes

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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Fall STM schedules: New buses to Nuns’ Island, airport

Route of the 21 Place du Commerce (in blue)

Route of the 21 Place du Commerce (in blue)

The STM has released fall schedules for its bus network, which take effect on Aug. 31. Two significant changes are worth noting:

  • The creation of the new 21 Place du Commerce, which provides one-way morning-only service from the LaSalle métro station to the Place du Commerce and Bell campus on Nuns’ Island. The idea is apparently to provide quicker access from Verdun to the Bell campus in the busy morning rush hour. Workers presumably have more time in the afternoon rush and can take the 12 bus like everyone else.
  • The 209 Des Sources bus, which you’ll recall is now an all-day bus (Monday-Friday only) has been extended to the terminal at Dorval Airport. This helps with a big complaint from users who before would have to wait up to half an hour at the Dorval train station because the only bus to the airport was the infrequent 204. (This extension was on the summer schedule for the 209, but for some reason is only being announced now.)

A minor change (I’m sure there are others): the 350 Verdun/LaSalle night bus now ends at Newman and Airlie instead of the Monette-Lafleur terminus.

Proof-of-payment system

According to the schedule set in May, the STM is supposed to move to a proof-of-payment system starting Sept. 1. This means that you must carry your Opus card or ticket with you at all times in the metro system or on buses, otherwise you can be fined. (I assume there will be a grace/warning period before any actual fines are given in this way.)

New map

If you haven’t seen it yet, the new 2009 system map (WARNING: 10MB PDF file) currently being installed in metro stations is more colourful than previous versions. Among the changes, dated June 22: “rapid transit” routes (express and reserved-lane buses) are shown in green, and Monday-to-Friday-all-day buses are given their own category in the legend, separate from seven-day routes and rush-hour-only routes.

Open house

And while I have your attention, the STM is having an open house at its Legendre garage in Ahuntsic on Sunday, Sept. 13. Registration and the tour are free, and there are shuttle buses from the Crémazie metro station that will bring you there, since there’s no parking on site.

515 colour plan only adds confusion

As the city does work on Metcalfe St. that forces the 515 bus into a detour at its western terminus, the STM decided that they’d take another crack at solving the confusion problem that hits people (locals and tourists alike) when they want to take this bus: because it’s a circular route, there’s no East, no West, and no terminus. Both directions will bring you where you want to go eventually.

The solution? Colours!

Blue 515 stop

Yellow 515 stop

Isn’t it obvious? The blue sign is for the bus that takes the clockwide route, toward Berri and then down to Old Montreal. The yellow sign is for the counter-clockwise route that goes through Old Montreal and then up to Berri. This is consistent with the schedules which have a yellow route and a blue route on them, unless they’re copied in black and white, in which case they only have one direction visible.

So now not only has the STM invented a new colour for the 515 (recycled from a failed experiment), they’ve invented another one too! A light blue that’s just different enough from the standard dark blue to be both confusingly similar and confusingly different.

Of course, this won’t solve the confusion inherent in the route’s design, and will just create more. This is the first time the STM is using colours on stop signs to indicate direction, and it’s a break from the standard. If transit users need anything, it’s a standard framework from which to understand how things run. This idea laughs in the face of that.

The STM should do as I suggested and drop the part of the route between Berri and Peel, which is redundant to not one but two metro lines (and the 150 and 15 buses) and therefore the least-used part of a little-used line. Then they can have proper East/West designations and the confusion will be gone.

No parking on Peel

Of course, what’s really going to piss people off is that in order to fit these two stops, the city had to remove 10 parking spaces along Peel (not that the bright red bags with no parking signs on them stopped drivers from parking there anyway, as you can see).

New summer bus schedules

The STM has released summer schedules for its bus network. Among the notable changes that take effect June 22:

  • 70 Bois-Franc gets a significant boost in service to complete its schedule. Service now extends to midnight, seven days a week (before it ended about 7pm), and intervals during rush hour drop from 30 to 15 minutes in both directions.
  • 119 Rockland adds Sunday service in both directions. Previously it was a Monday-to-Saturday bus.
  • 164 Dudemaine‘s western terminus is extended by two blocks, ending at Steinberg St. instead of Bois-Franc, to serve an area the STM considered to have inadequate service.
  • 174 Côte-Vertu Ouest gets midday service on weekdays at half-hour intervals, as well as four new departures in the evening, extending its service from 6pm to 8pm.
  • 209 Des Sources now stops at the Trudeau Airport via the Dorval train station.
  • 210 John Abbott adds a stop inside the Kirkland shopping centre that includes the Colisée, for all the John Abbott students who want to watch a movie after school (or instead of?). The STM cites safety as a reason for this stop, which replaces one at Jean-Yves and the service road.
  • 219 Chemin Sainte-Marie gets the same modification, but only in the westbound direction.
  • 361 Saint-Denis moves to a summer schedule with more departures, particularly on Sunday nights when intervals drop from 45 minutes to 30.
  • 515 Vieux-Montréal-Vieux-Port takes on a summer schedule, which reduces wait times from 20 minutes, seven days a week to 13 minutes on weekdays and 10 minutes on weekends.

UPDATE: The Gazette has a story on the changes based off the STM press releases. Both misspell “Bois-Franc”.

Meanwhile, the AMT is reducing service on the new schedule for its Nuns’ Island express bus, increasing intervals from 20 minutes to 30. Mitigating this news somewhat is that the STM has just approved a new bus route, probably to take effect in the fall, connecting Nuns’ Island with the LaSalle metro station.

RTL adds service to St. Bruno

RTL bus

The Réseau de transport de Longueuil, which handles public transit in Longueuil and its merged and demerged suburbs, is making a big effort to add service in a new schedule which began on Monday, especially in St. Bruno, which it had served with a handful of bus and collective taxi lines through an agreement with Veolia Transport. The contract (which the RTL points out predates its own existence) expired on Sunday, and the RTL is taking over service directly.

Among the additions, some of which are outlined in the press release:

  • 55: One new departure in the afternoon rush hour
  • 73: Two new departures in the afternoon rush hour
  • 80: Two new departures in the afternoon rush hour
  • 98: This route, which had previously only served St. Bruno locally, has been extended to Terminus Longueuil (but only during rush hours). A section on Grand Boulevard has been cut from its route, and will be served instead by the T99 taxi service.
  • T-20: Two new departures in the morning rush hour
  • T-89: Service extended to Saturday and Sunday rush hours
  • Other service improvements have been made on routes 20, 47, 91, 92, 99, 132, 192, T-23, and T-99
  • Other changes have been made to schedules on routes 10, 14, 15, 21, 30, 31, 34, 37, 38, 42, 44, 48, 49, 54, 73, 78, 85, 115, 132 and 142
  • Two lines, 93 and T94, have been removed from service. They both served St. Bruno and are being replaced with added service to other lines

STM adds Saint-Michel express bus

The STM moves to its spring schedule on Monday. Here’s some of what bus users can come to expect:

Welcome to the Saint-Michel Express

The biggest change comes to the 67 Saint-Michel, the STM’s single busiest line, which like its counterparts along Côte des Neiges, Parc and Pie-IX will get a little brother. The 467 Express Saint-Michel takes the same route as the 67, but with only 15 stops. The STM estimates this will cut 10% off travel times (via CPTDB), thanks to the help of two McGill urban planners (thanks Dave). Other measures, such as a reserved bus lane (coming this summer) and priority traffic lights (coming in 2010), are designed to shave another 5-20% off.

The route will have 126 departures from 6am to 7pm in both directions, Monday to Friday.

The 467’s stops are:

  • Henri-Bourassa
  • Fleury
  • Sauvé
  • De Louvain
  • Émile-Journault
  • Robert
  • Jarry
  • Villeray
  • Saint-Michel metro
  • Bélanger
  • Beaubien
  • Rosemont
  • Masson
  • Saint-Joseph
  • Joliette metro

72 extended to Côte-Vertu and Fairview

The 72 Alfred-Nobel, which connects the Saint-Laurent industrial park with the Du Collège metro, is having its route extended on both sides. On the western side, the route will end at the Fairview terminus (via Hymus), and on the eastern side, continuing on Decarie up to the Côte-Vertu metro (where all the other West Island buses stop). Service intervals will also drop slightly for this route, which operates Monday to Friday from 7am to 7pm.

Other notable scheduling changes I stumbled across

  • 12 Île des Soeurs: Dramatic increase in weekday departures, which are now 23 minutes apart instead of 30 during most of the day.
  • 16 Graham: New eastbound departure at 7:20am
  • 68 Pierrefonds: Service intervals westbound on Saturdays drop from about 22 minutes to about 16 minutes in the afternoon, with more buses in the morning and afternoon going all the way to Timberlea/Anse-à-l’Orme. Eastbound Saturday mornings a departure is added at 8am. And for some odd reason, the 1:40am westbound departure on Saturday nights (half an hour later than the rest of the week, consistent with a later metro closing time) has been eliminated.
  • 150 René-Lévesque: Weekday departures are now 31 minutes apart instead of 30, in order to remove a departure from the schedule.
  • 173 Métrobus Victoria: Service intervals decreased from 20 to 15 minutes during high-traffic times (eastbound during the morning rush hour, westbound during the afternoon rush hour)
  • 201 Saint-Charles-Saint-Jean: Midday Saturday service intervals drop from about 32 minutes to about 22 minutes between departures.
  • 207 Jacques-Bizard: An annoying schedule quirk for this predictable (every half hour on the half hour) schedule has been partially removed. After 10pm, the departures in both directions would happen every hour instead of every half hour. Those who didn’t look at the schedule closely enough might get stuck wondering why the bus didn’t come. On weekdays, the departures return to being every half hour, but still every hour after 10pm on weekends.
  • 209 Des Sources: Added departure northbound at 11:39pm. Previous final departure was at 10:55pm
  • 215 Henri-Bourassa: Between 9am and 12pm Saturday mornings, time between westbound departures drops from 30 minutes to 20.
  • 480 Pointe-Nord Île-des-Soeurs: Service intervals drop from 15 minutes to 10 minutes at rush hour peak
  • 515 Vieux-Montréal-Vieux-Port: Service intervals increase from every 13 minutes to every 20 minutes during the day (it’s unclear if this reduction in service is a seasonal thing, as more people are expected to walk places in warmer weather, or if it’s a reaction to how little the bus is used)

Notice anything I haven’t seen? Comment below.

STM on new schedule today

I was going to have my usual quarterly post analyzing changes to the STM’s bus schedules, which take effect today, but:

  1. I didn’t have time
  2. There aren’t many changes, besides already-announced service improvements
  3. The Gazette’s Linda Gyulai Max Harrold writes about those in this morning’s paper

At the top of the list (PDF) is the 105 Sherbrooke, which gets a much-needed 26% increase in service during rush hour.

The 515 bus can be saved

Spacing Montreal has a post about the “inevitable failure” of the STM’s 515 bus to Old Montreal. It discusses many of the problems I first brought up in June when it first started.

While I agree that the line is wrought with problems (most of them predictable), I still think there should be a bus serving Old Montreal (there’s an argument that Old Montreal is served by two metro stations, but the walk is pretty far, especially for kids – 600m from the Jacques Cartier pier to Champ-de-Mars and over a kilometre from the bottom of McGill St. to Square-Victoria).

Besides, the Spacing article (and the Journal story it’s based on) cite ridership numbers in the summer and fall, which is when people are more likely to walk than take a bus. When the temperature is 30 below and the roads are slippery with ice, bus use is likely to increase in this area.

So I’d like to offer some suggestions to the STM on ways to improve service on this so-far unpopular route:

  • Dump the yellow signs. They’re confusing and unnecessary. They give Montreal transit users (not to mention tourists) the idea that they’re temporary or special in some unknown way.
  • Drop the route between Berri and Peel. It’s the most underused part of this underused line, and it’s completely unnecessary. This would also have the advantage of simplifying the line, which could then use the usual East/West directions instead of its confusing current circular system.
  • Increase service intervals slightly. Putting a bus every 10 minutes does make it more metro-like in that people will just go to a stop and wait for the next bus, but the ridership (even if improved) simply doesn’t warrant it. A 20-minute predictable interval would make more sense.
  • Put detailed information at every Old Montreal stop. Schedule, fares, places of interest along the route, points of transfer, etc. should be at every stop for the benefit of tourists. If they can learn about the system as they wait for the bus, they’re more likely to take it.
  • Improve traffic flow. Certain parts of the route (like near St. Laurent and Notre Dame) are always clogged, slowing service to a crawl. New ways should be considered to improve traffic in the area, including banning all car traffic on De la Commune during the summer if necessary.

Did I miss anything? Should the route be saved?

STM increases service to St. Laurent industrial park

New schedule for 175 bus with added departures highlighted (via CPTDB)

New schedule for 175 bus with added departures highlighted (via CPTDB)

The STM has announced some changes to bus lines, primarily in the area of the St. Laurent industrial park:

  • The 72 Alfred Nobel has had seven departures added in the morning and evening rush hours to increase frequency. The hours of service remain the same. The major changes to the route begin next year. In January, service between rush hours will be added, and in March the line will be extended westward to the Fairview bus terminal, while the eastern terminus will be shifted to the Côte-Vertu metro station.
  • A collective taxi service is now being offered that shuttles between the St. Laurent industrial park and the Sunnybrooke train station during rush hours. Fares are the same as buses, but people have to reserve in advance.
  • The 175 Griffith/Saint-François and 196 Parc Industriel Lachine (or as I like to call them, the buses from nowhere to nowhere) now have service between rush hours, with 30-minute intervals. This follows a pattern the STM has been following recently filling up the time between rush hours, then extending into the later evenings and finally adding weekend service.

Also approved by the STM’s board of directors last week is the creation of a new line, the 467 Express Saint-Michel, which would provide limited-stop service along St. Michel Blvd. during rush hours. The 67 Saint-Michel is the busiest single bus route in the entire STM network with about 40,000 riders a day (the Côte des Neiges, Parc Ave. and Pie IX Blvd. axes have more ridership split over regular and rush-hour reserved lane routes). Expect this new line to come into service either in January or March.

Vaudreuil screwjob

Hey, remember back in June when I told you about that AMT contract to run two new express bus routes with crazy perks like air conditioning? And then two months later everyone hears about it for the first time (thanks to a press release) and is immediately outraged, saying this is “two-tier transit” and it’s illegal demanding it be scrapped?

Well you’ll be pleased to know that the Quebec government has done exactly that, bending to municipal pressure (and unions) and putting the kibosh on the project, mere days before it was to go into service.

Actually, it’s not really suspending it. Instead, the minister has taken the contract from Limocar and given control of the Vaudreuil line to CIT La Presqu’ile, which serves local transit needs of the western shore.

Of course, that’s what should have been done in the first place. The regional transit authorities around Montreal all have express buses going onto the island, including the RTL, STL, CITSO and companies that run transit in towns you didn’t realize had transit systems. Even CITPI has routes that connect with the STM network at John Abbott College in Sainte Anne de Bellevue. Why spend gobs of money on a private contract when you can just let the local transit authority handle it?

And even if we concede that the AMT needed to hire a company to run this route, why the requirements for air conditioning, Wi-Fi access and the rest that instantly disqualified the transit companies from the process? The government has been clear in the past that air conditioning is a luxury and they won’t pay for buses to have them. So why did AMT get special treatment?

Mentioning the delay between my reporting in June and the decision this past week isn’t just to make me look good. There are consequences to going back on decisions like this. Limocar went through a fair bidding process in good faith, and now they’ve been screwed over. It’s unclear whether they’ve spent any serious money setting this route up, but even if we just count the manpower they spent on the bidding process, that’s a lot of resources for something that has turned out to be irrelevant.

In other words, expect a lawsuit to develop out of this, or expect Limocar to get some serious cash in severance costs.

And, of course, all that is money out of our pockets.

All because people complained about a contract after it was awarded instead of when the ridiculous requirements were announced.

STM adds service, but still short on buses

As part of its promise for vastly increased service for users (and in order to meet government-imposed quotas to get extra cash), the STM has announced sweeping improvements to bus service across the island, as well as better service on the Orange Line of the metro (which will now use renovated MR-73 trains exclusively), all starting next Monday (Sept. 1) as the new schedules are released.

The actual improvements to bus service aren’t quite as dramatic as the long press release would make it seem. Part of the reason is that the STM simply doesn’t have enough buses to meet up with all the increased service it wants. More are being manufactured, but won’t arrive here until next year.

Nevertheless, there are some highlights in the new schedules:

New route: 480 Pointe-Nord-Île-des-Soeurs (plus collective taxi)

The 480 Pointe-Nord Île-des-Soeurs route, which was first announced back in April, finally gets started. It’s an express link between downtown and Nuns’ Island’s new Bell campus. That route will also be paired with a collective taxi service which will run between the campus and Nuns’ Island’s commercial area during lunchtime.

New “seniors” routes: 252, 253, 254

What do you do when a pilot project fails miserably? Try it again in another place without changing any of the things that were wrong with it, of course. After trying “seniors” routes in NDG and Côte des Neiges, the STM is repeating the experiment in Montreal North, Saint Michel and Rosemont.

Like the previous incarnation, these buses will only run on certain days (and it’s not the same days for each bus), during midday, on a confusingly circular route at unreasonably large intervals of between 50 and 80 minutes. The latter two will also use minibuses, which are high-floor buses (it’s unclear if they’ll have lifts like adapted transit buses do) and tough to get into for older people.

The stops will be identified with the same yellow signs as the previous versions, even though yellow signs also indicate temporary routes (like the shuttle running through Georges-Vanier metro) and tourist routes (like the 515 Old Port bus)

470 adds weekend service

As part of its incremental increases to service to the 470 Express Pierrefonds, a route described (repeatedly) as a “home run” by STM director Marvin Rotrand, the STM has finally added weekend service for the first time. Service will be provided in both directions between 6:30am and 6:30pm, at intervals ranging from 20 minutes (during weekend rush-hour times) and 30 minutes (around noon). That’s great, only it took them a year to do it.

103 service intervals to plummet

Service intervals on the 103 Monkland will drop dramatically next week during all hours of service. On weekdays during the day, intervals will be closer to 10-12 minutes than the current 15-20, and during rush hour it will drop below the 6-minutes-or-less threshold.

On Saturdays, morning eastbound service will be at 15 minutes instead of 20. Westbound, intervals will drop from 20 minutes to 15 from 1-4pm, and from 30 minutes to 20 minutes during the evenings.

Sunday’s schedule stays mostly the same.

Neighbourhood routes get later evening hours (but only during weekdays)

Following up on a promise to offer late-evening service to certain routes, new schedules for five seven-day routes show less truncated weekday schedules, which will now end closer to the metro’s closing time of 1am. Weekend service, however, will remain unaffected and still end as early as previously:

Sundays start earlier on the West Island

Anyone who’s tried to get around the West Island early on a Sunday morning quickly realized that it’s not possible before 9am. For some arcane reason, service starts at 7am on Saturdays, but everyone’s expected to just sleep in on Sundays. Only certain routes like the 68 or 211 offer any service before 9am. That changes next week, as the late-rising routes through Fairview start getting up at 7am instead of 9:

Seven-day buses with slightly improved service during rush hour:

(Barely) extended rush hours, up to 1 hour on each side:

Existing “all-day” (but not evening or weekend) routes whose service will end at 7pm instead of 6:30pm:

Service reductions advertised as service increases

Perhaps there was a mixup of some sort. But comparing schedules, it seems there are actually slight reductions in the service on two routes where the STM has advertised slight increases:

  • 268 Trainbus Pierrefonds: Two fewer departures eastbound cutting service after 4pm, three fewer departures westbound cutting service before 9:30am. In exchange, two extra departures at the end of rush hour westbound.
  • 430 Express Pointe-aux-Trembles: One fewer departure westbound in early morning

UPDATE: The papers have stories on the schedule changes. La Presse, notably, mentions nothing about the 470 weekend service nor the earlier Sundays for routes going through Fairview. I guess they think the West Island doesn’t matter.

Bus route suggestions on the cheap

To complete my public-transit-in-the-news trifecta, The Gazette’s Henry Aubin has some suggestions about how the STM can help improve the network cheaply, based on readers’ comments:

  1. The MTC should do more to ensure that buses don’t reach bus stops well before their scheduled arrival time: That all depends on what “do more” means. Inspectors check after buses at busy stops to make sure they’re all on time. Individual buses are supposed to keep to their schedules, and in some cases will take breaks in order to keep from moving on too early. But it’s unrealistic to expect an hour-long bus route to be accurate to within one minute at all stops. A simple traffic light or two would be enough to put them off schedule (and often it does).
  2. More posted bus schedules would be handy. No schedules are posted for six to eight bus stops on some routes. What routes? I’ve never seen that many stops between posted schedules. And aside from the fact that every bus stop in the network has a code you can use to call using a cellphone and find out when the next bus comes, the STM has added schedules (and maps) to most of its shelters, as well as stand-alone schedules to many stops. That number is increasing, but there are many less-used stops that don’t have schedules posted.
  3. More generous hours for bringing bicycles on the métro would help certain commuters. Sure, but at the expense of others. The STM limits bicycles on the metro during rush hours and events (such as the fireworks) when the system is too crowded to support them safely. When the network has to choose between allowing a bike on a train or letting three or four people board, it will go with the people.
  4. The MTC could do more to synchronize the routes. Again, what does “do more” mean here? Synchronizing routes sounds very simple, but it’s extremely complicated. Each bus will connect with maybe dozens of others. They can’t all be synchronized in every direction so that every transfer has a minimum wait time. There are some specific areas where individual routes’ schedules could be improved for better synchronization (the 371 and 382 is a personal pet peeve of mine – a delay of a minute over a half-hour route can mean the difference between zero wait time and an hour in a dark outdoor terminus in the middle of the night), but in most cases they do they best they can.
  5. Fewer routes should be part of the Fairview Mall hub-and-spoke system; more should be either east-west or north-south, with transfer-friendly co-ordination between them. The STM has already agreed with this and is transitioning away from the hub-and-spoke system for the West Island. I don’t necessarily agree – I like the idea of a terminal where you can switch from any line to any line, but I guess I’m missing something.
  6. As well, some heavily used routes could cut travel time by avoiding meanderings that benefit relatively few people – the 211 bus’s deviation onto small Dorval streets, for example. I always found that deviation a bit odd, but it does serve the mall at Dorval circle. And the rush-hour 221 skips it for people in a rush. But sure, go ahead and change that.
  7. Other routes could be eliminated entirely, with the resulting savings plowed into new routes or into more frequent service on existing routes (such as) keeping only the 202 and reconfiguring it (to eliminate the 203). The 200 and 205 could be killed. (Notice a West Island bias here?) Well, the 203 is currently the only bus serving Lakeshore General Hospital, so I hope that would be part of the reconfiguration. The 200 is the only bus between Fairview and Ste. Anne de Bellevue on the weekend, but I wouldn’t cry if it disappeared (it doesn’t run after 7pm right now anyway). As for the 205, it is the only bus serving the rather large Rive Boisée area of Pierrefonds. Without it, people would have to walk up to 1,500 metres to the closest bus stop.

But hey, that’s just my opinion.

STM to add evening service to downtown routes

Last week at its board of directors’ meeting, the STM approved a plan to extend service hours to five bus routes serving the downtown and near-downtown areas:

All of these routes are 7-day daytime routes, but their service ends before midnight (the 31 and 138 have their last runs as early as 7pm). Though the STM hasn’t said what exactly the extended service hours will be, expect these routes to have added evening service seven days a week, starting at the next schedule change in September.

Also at the meeting, the STM approved a new senior shuttle service for Montreal-North, St-Michel and Rosemont. I guess the stunning failure of the previous senior-shuttle experiment hasn’t fazed the transit authority.

On the 515

I hopped on board the new 515 Vieux-Montréal/Vieux-Port bus today before work. The new bus route is part of a number of changes that were made as the STM introduced its summer schedule on Monday.

The trip, which goes in a circle from Berri metro down to St. Laurent and de la Commune to Peel and up to René-Lévesque, took about 20 minutes, with most of the delays due to traffic (it was the afternoon of St. Jean Baptiste day, so traffic in Old Montreal was probably higher than normal).

The fact that it was only the bus’s second day of service explained a few of the kinks that still need to be worked out, which probably led to the fact that I was the only person on board the bus for the entire trip:

  1. Traffic. Especially in areas around Notre Dame, Saint-Laurent and de la Commune. The eventual idea is to make de la Commune no-parking and install reserved bus lanes. There is currently one that runs for a few blocks in the western part (where it’s pointless), and it needs to be extended back eastward. The turns at Saint-Laurent and de la Commune are particularly difficult for a 40-foot bus to try and maneuvre.
  2. Confusion. Unlike most STM buses, this one runs in a circular route. In both directions. In such a situation, trying to say what the destination of each direction is becomes difficult, because both directions will eventually get you there. Both eastbound and westbound stops on de la Commune, for example, could say they’re in the direction of downtown, because they are. It’s just one goes up Berri and the other goes up Peel. The confusion is made even moreso by situations like in the photo below where buses in both directions stop at the same stop. So riders have no clue whether the bus they’re getting on is going in the direction they want it to.

You’ll also note the signs have yellow backgrounds. The STM is still trying to figure out what to do with that colour. Once upon a time, they were used to denote special senior’s routes in the west end, until that pilot project was cancelled due to suckage. Then it was used for special shuttles. Now they just use it for any route they think is cool. But it gives the impression that this route is strange in some way, like it needs a special fare or something.

Despite its problems though, I believe in this bus. Old Montreal is woefully underserved by public transit, and the metro is too far to reach everywhere by foot. A bus which runs every 10 minutes will be useful not just to tourists visiting the Old Port, but to residents who want to get downtown quickly.

AMT planning new express routes

Route for new AMT bus from Vaudreuil to Côte-Vertu

The Agence Métropolitaine de Transport has put out tenders seeking operators for two new bus routes it is planning. The first links the Vaudreuil train station on the Montreal-Dorion/Rigaud line to the Côte-Vertu metro station along highway 40, to start service in September.

Departures would be Mondays to Fridays (excluding holidays) on the following schedule

Eastbound: 5:35, 6:00, 6:25, 6:50, 7:15, 7:40, 8:05, 8:30, 8:55
15:50, 16:20, 16:50, 17:20, 17:50, 18:20

Westbound: 6:10, 6:35, 7:00, 7:25, 7:50, 8:15
15:10, 15:40, 16:10, 16:40, 17:10, 17:40, 18:10, 18:40, 19:10

Estimated travel time is 35 minutes eastbound and 40 minutes westbound. The only stop between the two terminuses would be at Côte-Vertu and Beaulac.

New AMT route from Brossard to Nuns\' Island

The other one links the Panama bus terminus and Chevrier park-and-ride lot to Nuns’ Island (specifically, the new Bell campus at the northern tip of the island) by the Champlain bridge. It would start in August.

Departures are Mondays to Fridays (excluding holidays) as follows:

Toward Nuns’ Island (travel time: 23 minutes): 6:00, 6:20, 6:40, 7:00, 7:20, 7:40, 8:00, 8:20, 8:40
14:45, 15:05, 15:25, 15:45, 16:05, 16:25, 16:45, 17:05, 17:25

Toward Chevrier (travel time: 20 minutes): 6:25, 6:45, 7:05, 7:25, 7:45, 8:05, 8:25, 8:45, 9:05
15:00, 15:20, 15:40, 16:00, 16:20, 16:40, 17:00, 17:20, 17:40, 18:10

Both routes are suburb-to-suburb routes which represent an exodus from the hub-and-spoke system that defines rush-hour transit currently.

The AMT’s contract stipulations are also fun to read. They cover things like making sure the buses have wheelchair access and will be air-conditioned (by Jan. 1, 2009) to ensuring that drivers make eye contact when passengers board.

(via metrodemontreal and CPTDB)