Tag Archives: bus routes

STM to add more off-peak bus service starting Monday

The STM’s summer schedule starts next Monday, and the Planibus schedules were posted online today. As expected, there are many service improvements, especially to increase service outside of rush hour on weekdays (links go to PDF schedules).

The following bus routes will be extended to full-day service (meaning Monday to Friday, excluding holidays, during morning and afternoon rush hours and the time between them) at 20-minutes-or-less intervals from about 6am to about 6:30pm:

The following bus routes will move to a one-direction-until-noon, another-direction-after-noon schedule, with 20-minute intervals off-peak, until about 6:30pm:

Other changes:

  • 11 Montagne will have added service in the evenings to coincide with the opening hours of Mount Royal Park. Service will now run until midnight instead of 9pm. However, the western part of the route after 9 will go to Côte-des-Neiges and Queen Mary instead of up Ridgewood, which is kind of silly since the 166 detours up Ridgewood after 9pm. Why not just keep both on their original routes and save everyone the confusion?
  • 210 John Abbott ceases to become a seasonal bus linked to John Abbott’s schedule, and gains all-day weekday status. It will have a 25-minute interval between 6:10am and 5:45pm westbound, and 6:45pm and 6:20pm eastbound. Its route will also be modified to take Sainte-Marie Rd. straight from Highway 40 instead of continuing to Morgan Rd.
  • 219 Chemin Sainte-Marie loses a loop on Sainte-Marie west of Morgan Rd. to EMS Technologies near Meloche.
  • 268 Trainbus Pierrefonds undergoes a radical change to both route and schedule: The route will be extended up Grenet St. to the Côte-Vertu metro station in both directions. Eastbound departures continue every half hour until 3:50pm, and westbound departures from Côte-Vertu are every half hour from 8am to 5:45pm (more frequently during the afternoon rush hour)
  • 505 R-Bus Pie-IX becomes 505 Express Pie-IX, which better reflects its role not as a rush-hour reserved-lane replacement for the 139 bus, but a limited-stop express bus that acts as a second option during rush hours.
  • 515 Vieux-Montréal/Vieux-Port is a new shuttle between Dorchester Square, Berri metro (and the Station Centrale bus terminal), and de la Commune St. The circular route – in both directions simultaneously – takes René-Lévesque, Peel, de la Commune and Berri/St. Denis. Departures are every 13 minutes (10 minutes during weekend afternoons, 20 minutes in the late evenings), seven days a week from 7am to 1am.

Other changes, such as the 480 on Nuns’ Island and weekend service on the 470 Express Pierrefonds, will come in September.

Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments. I haven’t found anything yet on the Old Port bus that’s supposed to come.

Old Port bus coming

My beloved paper has an (OMG) GAZETTE EXCLUSIVE on its front page today about a new bus route linking downtown and Old Montreal along reserved bus lanes.

I have no clue how they managed to get that GAZETTE EXCLUSIVE … I mean, unless they read my blog post a month ago saying there would be a new bus (No. 515) along reserved lanes linking Old Montreal and Berri-UQAM.

The route comes into service on June 23 (when summer schedules come into effect), and is expected to be eventually replaced by a tramway. The route is a circular one, running along René-Lévesque, Peel, de la Commune and Berri.

Nuns’ Island hates public transit

As if trying to find a way to sound more like elitist suburban NIMBY snobs, residents at the southern tip of Nuns’ Island have apparently complained to the STM that they have too much bus service. They complain about the noise and dust generated by the buses.

I know buses are loud. I hear them outside my living room window every day. But I’ve never thought to complain about them, nor have I ever experienced dust problems (do they shed?)

Perhaps the noise and dust problems in the area might be due to the fact that it’s one giant construction zone for upscale condos? The photo above is one of many new skyscraping condo buildings going up in what was once empty space near a park.

The STM, after considering numerous half-assed schemes to placate residents and needlessly inconvenience public transit users, has concluded that it’s not reducing service to the area. The article doesn’t make clear which side Claude Trudel is on, since he’s both the Verdun borough mayor and the chairperson of the STM board of directors. Let’s hope he and his constituents realize this is the best option for everyone involved.

Especially when you consider that one bus on the road can replace dozens of SUVs.

Some details of STM bus service improvements

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

STM to introduce Old Port bus, 470 gets weekend service

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

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

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

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

New express bus route to Nuns’ Island

480 route

On Wednesday evening, the STM’s board of directors approved the creation of a new express bus route serving Nuns’ Island. According to Le Magazine Ile-des-Soeurs, the line will be numbered 480, and will go between Lucien L’Allier station (Mountain and de la Gauchetière), down René Lévesque and University to the new Bell headquarters at the north end of Nuns’ Island, a 15-minute trip in each direction. The route, which will run toward the island during the morning rush hour and toward downtown in the evening (making it the only express bus that travels away from downtown in the morning), is expected to serve 1300 passengers starting in September.

209, 470 buses get extended schedules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STM’s service improvements are actually service reductions

18 Beaubien at Beaubien metro
You’ll actually be waiting more, not less, for the 18 bus outside of rush hour.

The STM is trumpeting huge, noticeable improvements to bus and metro service that finally came into effect on Monday. The additions come in two parts:

More metro trains, less wait time

The STM is adding 145 new departures every week to all but the yellow line. The goal is to reduce waiting times and get more people using the metro.

The change is most visible outside of rush hour. That means the very early morning, during the day, late evenings, at night and on the weekend. On weekdays outside of rush hour, the waiting times will all be reduced by at least a minute and a half – a rather noticeable change.

Going out today, I decided to time the intervals between metro trains. Sure enough, for orange line trains going through downtown at 6:45pm, the trains were just under six minutes apart on average, which the STM says is an improvement on the previous eight minutes.

Though the wait times during rush hour (when almost all trains are already in service) won’t come down much, this move might serve to eventually lighten that load a bit. An extended rush hour means that fewer travellers will organize their schedules around rush hour to take advantage of the short waits.

I can’t be the only one who prefers to travel during peak hours because of how much faster it is. Extending rush hour will spread this tendency out a bit and hopefully make it spike a bit less as the whistle blows at 5pm.

More bus service means less bus service?

The other part to this service improvement is the more interesting one: the STM has announced additional buses being added to three popular lines: 18 Beaubien, 24 Sherbrooke and 121 Sauvé/Côte-Vertu. It’s also making the 54 Charland/Chabanel a rush-hour-plus-between-rush-hours service, which is becoming more and more popular (but to me only seems frustrating because the service stops by 7pm).

Today I went to the Beaubien metro bus stop for the 18 bus and observed as buses passed to pick up passengers headed east for the evening rush hour. Most of the buses had their seats filled, but none were so packed that nobody else could get on. They were running on intervals of about 3-4 minutes during rush hour’s peak (5:30pm), and 6-7 minutes just after rush hour (6:30pm).

This, despite complaints from the employees’ union that there’s a bus shortage affecting service.

Here’s the problem: The schedule itself hasn’t improved. If anything, service is being reduced on these three lines.

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Montreal Geography Trivia No. 7

(Admit it, you missed this during the holidays)

Here’s another one of those what-do-these-names-have-in-common lists. Except this time, you can’t find the answer on Google Maps.

These names (in alphabetical order) meet a threshold of having at least three of something in Montreal. What is it?

  • Côte des Neiges
  • Gouin
  • Henri Bourassa
  • Jean Talon
  • Notre Dame
  • Parc
  • Pierrefonds
  • Pie IX
  • Saint Denis
  • Sainte Anne (de Bellevue)
  • Sainte Catherine
  • Saint Laurent
  • Sherbrooke

UPDATE (9:30pm): After quite a few interesting guesses, the correct answer comes from HCD below. All of these names have at least three STM bus routes named after them:

  • Côte-des-Neiges: 165, 369, (535)
  • Gouin: 69, (89), (183), 205
  • Henri-Bourassa: 41, (159), 171, 215, 380
  • Jean-Talon: (92), 93, (141), 372
  • Notre-Dame: 22, 189, (195), (410), 362
  • Parc: 80, 365, (535)
  • Pierrefonds: 68, (268), 382, (470)
  • Pie IX: 139, (355), (505)
  • Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue/Sainte-Anne: 200, 251, 356
  • Sainte-Catherine: 15, 34, 358
  • Saint-Denis: (30), 31, 361
  • Saint-Laurent: 53, 55, 363
  • Sherbrooke: 24, 105, (182), 185, (186), (195)

Numbers in parentheses are for routes where the names form part of the bus route’s name, combined with “Est,” “Ouest,” “Metrobus,” “Express,” “R-Bus,” or the name of a second street.

In some cases, the duplication is due to having overlapping routes at different times (a regular route, a rush-hour reserved-lane route and a night route). Others, like Gouin, Henri-Bourassa and Sherbrooke are just so freakin’ long they have different routes stacked end to end.

More West Island bus changes coming

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

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

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Hindsight is 470/20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A small step for West Island bus service

About two and a half years ago, the STM introduced a new rush-hour bus route to the West Island. The 470 Express Pierrefonds was a strange beast, running limited-stop along the western half of Pierrefonds Blvd., then travelling up St. John’s Blvd. on regular-stop duty to Fairview. From there it would run non-stop straight to the Côte-Vertu metro station where most people would get off. The route ran, in both directions, during both rush hours.

The route turned out to be a big success, particularly for its non-stop shuttle service between Côte-Vertu and Fairview, which was the first of its kind. (The closest thing they had to it before then was the 216 Transcanadienne, which took the service road of Highway 40 and was designed to serve the industrial buildings in that corridor.)

But the bus was still rush-hour only, much to the annoyance of students, stay-at-home parents or anyone else without a car who wanted to do something during the day, at night or on the weekend. Some people (like me) have suggested over and over and over that the service be extended to become a regular 7-day route, just like the 211 Bord-du-Lac, which is non-stop between the Lionel-Groulx metro and Dorval train station, and then continues westbound to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Because it’s so fast and frequent, it’s the most popular bus route serving the West Island.

Starting Monday, the STM will be taking the first (small) step in that direction. They’ve announced that the 470 will fill the gap between morning and afternoon rush-hours and run “all day” (see the schedule in PDF) on weekdays. (A similar announcement was made about the 194 Métrobus Rivière-des-Prairies on the other side of the island, just to make sure us anglos aren’t getting special treatment.)

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

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

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

Hopefully these things will become very apparent to the STM very shortly after the additional service is launched on Monday.

Bus plans have good ideas and stupid gimmicks

The Gazette’s Linda Gyulai has a good run-down of the city’s transit plan for buses. Bus routes aren’t sexy like trams, metros and bike lanes, but they get the job done, transporting more people than any other method of public transportation.

Broken down, the measures fall in three categories:

Adding more buses

  • Increasing the fleet from 1,600 to 2,100 buses (which means a lot of bus-buying if they’re going to replace the death traps currently on the road)
  • Adding articulated buses on busy major routes (that don’t involve too many turns)
  • More express buses
  • Extending rush hour. This one just makes sense: How many times have you had to rush to make the last rush-hour bus of the day, or decided to travel during rush-hour mainly because wait times would be at their lowest? Making rush-hour-style service available all day will take pressure off rush-hour service.
  • Smaller buses for smaller areas. Currently they use a minibus in Ste. Anne de Bellevue (251) because the streets are so small.
  • More buses to the West Island. (Let’s just start with an all-day shuttle to the metro, and then take it from there.)

Making buses run faster

  • “Bus Rapid Transit”, basically a cross between an Ottawa-style transitway and a regular reserved bus lane. Right now they’re just talking about this on Pie-IX Blvd., where the old reserved centre lanes and stations on the median still stand unused.
  • More reserved lanes on major thoroughfares like St. Michel, Beaubien, Rosemont, Notre Dame, Sauvé/Côte-Vertu, St. John’s and Pierrefonds, where traffic is high and buses take a lot of passengers
  • Introducing special limited-stop routes (the article says they would be marked with an X like 67X, which would be confusing because such numbers are already used to indicate short-stop and school extras)
  • Reserved lanes on highways (badly needed for buses like the 211).

Cool technology and gimmicks

  • GPS technology on buses which will allow announcements on the bus and displays at bus stops to show when the next bus will arrive in real-time. (This sounds great and all, but considering this isn’t even done in all metro stations yet, maybe we should start there?)
  • Redo seating arrangements on buses to “create more room”. I guess this means more standing room, with fewer seats, which I think is a bad idea to encourage transit use.
  • More bus shelters
  • Free transit for university students. Funny, we usually hear this one from students trying to get elected. It usually involves imposing a huge tax on all students (regardless of whether they’d use public transit) that’s less than the cost of the passes to make up for the revenue shortfall.
  • More “seniors” buses, which have already proven a stupid idea.
  • A “shuttle service to Mount Royal Park”. There is one already. It’s called the 11. Problem is it only runs every half hour.
  • Biodiesel and “ecological driving” for the PR points.

Fairview: No longer the centre of the West Island universe?

Apparently the STM is considering a major overhaul to the West Island bus network in the coming years, which will increase service and, more controversially, “do away” with having most of the buses go to the Fairview bus terminal.

Fairview bus terminal

Currently 17 buses go there, making it the largest STM bus terminal on the island. Only Bonaventure’s massive RTL terminal is larger.

I’m not sure how much I like this idea. As it stands, you can get from just about anywhere in the West Island to just about anywhere else using two buses. And where you have the option of more than one bus, you can just take whichever comes first to Fairview.

The STM is considering a grid system, in which buses go either East-West (like the 68 and 211) or North-South (like the 209 on Sources or the 201 on St. Charles). That way to get anywhere you’d still only need two buses, but could avoid an unnecessary detour.

The problem comes in their solution to the bigger problem: Shuttle service to the metro. Currently only the 470 Express Pierrefonds serves this function, and only during rush hours. Lots of people who go downtown take a bus to Fairview and then transfer to the 470. With a grid system, people might have to take two buses to get to Fairview, lengthening their trip.

Expanding express service is a brilliant idea (if only someone had thought of it earlier), but I’m unconvinced that enough people are taking trips where going through Fairview is a burdensome detour to justify such a shift in routes. Let’s start by getting more frequent service and faster service to downtown and we’ll go from there.

UPDATE: Wow, beat CTV News on this by over 48 hours. Someone sleeping on the job there? Or did their copy of the Chronicle arrive late?

Say goodbye to the 21 and 23 … nevermind, you won’t miss them

Now that they’ve been in service for almost a year, the STM will be evaluating the “senior” buses running through Côte-des-Neiges (21) and NDG (23), and disappointment with their popularity might lead to them being cancelled.

Is anyone surprised? Let’s go over why these routes were a bad idea in the first place:

  • They run only on Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., meaning you have to set your weekly schedule around them.
  • They run only every 50-55 minutes, which means you can spend almost an hour waiting for a bus.
  • They only stop where the STM thinks you want to go. So unless you live in a big apartment building and want to go to Loblaws, you’re out of luck.
  • The routes are confusing, even for me. Instead of going up and down a street like the very popular 105, they take wild loops around everywhere, passing on many major streets in only one direction, meaning you might have to go in the opposite direction of where you want to go.
  • You can’t find them listed if you go to the STM site and search for bus schedules. The only way to find them is to download the PDF flyers and search for departure times.

These routes, which were launched with much fanfare last June, were quite possibly the worst the STM have ever come up with, and that showed after the initial novelty quickly wore off with seniors.

What’s hilarious about this is that the borough mayor, Michael Applebaum, is worried about wasting money. Why? Each route uses only a single bus for four hours a week. Compared to the cost of running a single regular route (like, say, the underused 138), it’s barely a drop in the bucket.

Next time, focus less on the colour of the bus stops and more on how useful a new line will really be to users. There’s nothing special about seniors that will cause them to embrace crap.