Tag Archives: laval

Quebecor sets sights on Transcontinental with two new weeklies

Quebecor Media announced today that it is launching two new weekly community newspapers: Echo de Laval and Echo de la Rive-Nord. (Their newspaper naming team must have spent minutes on those.)

Like similar papers throughout the province, these are free papers heavily supported by advertising. Echo de Laval will be distributed to 120,000 homes in Laval, while the Echo de la Rive-Nord goes to 66,000 homes in Saint-Janvier, Sainte-Thérèse, Blainville, Rosemère, Boisbriand, Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Bois-des-Filion and Lorraine (in other words, the middle north shore).

The papers’ launch is significant for a few reasons:

  • Quebecor decides on the business model for these publications, without having to worry about appeasing unions. They’ve already said the two newspapers will work together, and other processes might be in place that would make unions cringe.
  • The launch comes while journalists at the Journal de Montréal are still locked out. Having newspapers in Laval and the immediate north shore will give much-needed content to Quebecor’s Agence QMI, which could in turn feed the Journal de Montréal. (The Laval paper is already making heavy use of QMI stories from 24 Heures.)
  • The launch of these papers breaks an unofficial agreement between Quebecor and Transcontinental Media to stay off each other’s turf. Transcontinental has papers all across the island of Montreal, as well as the Courrier Laval, one of its larger papers. Quebecor has papers on the south shore, meanwhile. The launch of the Echo de Laval will put the two in direct competition, during a time when that’s the last thing small newspapers want.
  • The previous point is made worse by the fact that two of the people named in the press release used to work at Transcontinental’s Laurentians paper, Le Trait d’Union. Mario Marois, who was Trait d’Union’s publisher until recently, becomes publisher of l’Echo de Laval. Guy Crépeau, who has worked as a journalist and as ad sales supervisor for Trait d’Union, becomes the news director for both Quebecor papers.

Quebecor says the two papers will add 23 jobs (Sun Media VP Charles Michaud specifies this includes seven full-time journalists and one part-time journalist). Their first issues come out Thursday.

Non, l’autre pair

Quebecor’s press release says that “selon le nouveau modèle d’affaires de Quebecor Media, journalistes et équipes de ventes travailleront de pair au sein des deux publications.” Some have interpreted this to mean that the wall between editorial and advertising would come down at the two papers, with both sides working together. Cécile Gladel and the STIJM are already calling foul.

Michaud, who is the big boss of Quebecor’s community weeklies, says this isn’t the case:

Pas question de mélanger les genres. La publicité et la rédaction restent bien distincts l’une de l’autre.

Il faut comprendre que les deux salles de rédaction travailleront de pair pour les nouvelles qui touchent les deux territoires. Ce sera d’ailleurs la même situation au niveau des ventes de publicité.

In other words, the papers will work together on news-gathering and advertising sales, but there won’t be advertorials or special journalistic treatment for advertisers. The advertising-editorial wall remains in place. (He made a similar statement to Le Trente when asked about it.)

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STL is cool with the technostuff

The Société de transport de Laval is using Google Maps to show detours of its bus routes. It has eight so far, including this latest one for the 144 bus. Not only does doing something like this look cool, but it opens up data that can be exported to other sources.

The STL is also using Twitter to notify users of transit alerts.

But these videos? Just give us the transcript, thanks.

STL fares for 2010 (plus discount offer)


Fresh off the media blitz of announcing their new user information system (including an in-house video) and a scandal involving alleged corruption (or at least the appearance of a conflict of interest), the Société de transport de Laval tabled its budget and announced its 2010 fare table.

Here’s the skinny:

2009 2010 Difference
Single fare $2.60 $2.75 +5.8%
8 tickets (regular) $18.50 (8x$2.31) $18.75 (8x$2.34) +1.4%
8 tickets (reduced) $13 (8x$1.56) $13.25 (8x$1.66) +1.9%
Monthly pass (regular) $76.50 $78 +2.0%
Monthly pass (intermediate) $61 $62.50 +2.5%
Monthly pass (reduced) $46 $47 +2.2%

The STL is also throwing a carrot to its regular users, offering a month free if they sign up for automatic payment of their passes on the Opus card for 12 months.

They’re also offering a one-time rebate worth one monthly pass for people getting a monthly pass on the Opus card for the first time.

Suburbs have too much transit clout

Proposed extensions to Orange, Blue and Yellow lines

Proposed extensions to Orange, Blue and Yellow lines

This week, La Presse came out with the news that the mayors of Montreal, Laval and Longueuil have joined forces to suggest to the Quebec government that proposed metro extensions in their cities be acted on simultaneously.

Because these projects require such a huge infusion of cash from the provincial government (they cost $150 million per kilometre, and that’s a low estimate), the decision to proceed with them tends to have as much to do with politics as it does with need. The Laval extension, for example, was pushed forward ahead of the extension of the Blue line mostly because of the fact that Laval has swing ridings whereas the east end of Montreal tends to be pretty well PQ blue (when the PQ has a chance of winning elections, anyway).

The three proposed extensions aren’t new. The Blue line extension has been on the books for decades now in one form or another. Laval’s closed loop was suggested in 2007, Longueuil’s plan is a bit more recent.

But why these three? Why not extend the green line in either direction? Why not create a line on Pie-IX, or Park Avenue, or through NDG?

The answer is that Montreal only has one mayor, and because of the way politicians have setup our cities, the mayor of Montreal has no more say than a smaller suburb on either side. So in order to get a much-needed metro extension in the dense neighbourhood of St. Leonard, we have to approve two comparatively useless extensions in underdeveloped off-island areas.

The idea isn’t going over so well, even among people who you’d think would support it. Some transit activists are arguing that less expensive (and less sexy) projects should be dealt with first, like improving commuter trains and setting up a tram network.

Let’s hope common sense prevails before the government writes that $3-billion cheque.

Vaillancourt getting greedy

Vaillancourt needs MORE METRO!

Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, apparently not satisfied that the Quebec government spent more than his city’s entire annual budget building a metro extension of questionable worth there, wants even more money to close the loop of the Orange Line.

That’s kind of ballsy.

His arguments are as follows:

  • Laval’s population is growing: Yes, but the area around the Laval metro stations is still pretty vacant. Extensions of the blue and yellow lines would be through much more highly-populated areas that are in more desperate need of high-density transit.
  • The metro costs less per person, saving money: I don’t know where he gets his figures, but I’m guessing it’s based on operational costs, not construction costs. Building a metro to nowhere won’t pay for itself.
  • The current extension is a huge success: Its ridership numbers were a bit higher than an arbitrary conservative estimate pulled out of someone’s ass. Meanwhile, the project was almost an order of magnitude over budget. I don’t call this a success.
  • Closing the orange line loop would simplify many transit trips: Almost all Laval bus routes terminate at either the Montmorency or Cartier metro stations, funneling passengers onto metro cars. Creating a western connection would only split that traffic. It wouldn’t add another 40,000 riders to the system.
  • It’s environmentally friendly, and we need to get more cars of the road: In that case, I’m sure you’ll have no problem taking all that cash that’s building a new bridge along the Highway 25 axis and putting it into metro development instead.

Vaillancourt says he wants a dedicated tax for the extension. I agree. But I think he should be the one implementing it. If Laval wants a redundant metro extension for no particularly good reason, they can pay for it themselves.

UPDATE (Dec. 13): The Gazette’s Jim Mennie sees this as a shot across the bow in a battle between Laval and Montreal. And an editorial plagiarizes agrees with my main points.

Montreal’s 3-1-1 doesn’t look promising

Laval has inaugurated its 3-1-1 service. For those unfamiliar, 3-1-1 is the non-emergency alternative to 9-1-1, used for things like reporting broken traffic lights or getting information from city hall (provided your curiosity or civic-mindedness happens during the line’s opening hours).

The story includes an interesting quote from Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay:

Tremblay said Montreal’s 3-1-1 service will be even better than Laval’s when it comes on line in December because it will automatically hook callers up to borough offices.

“It’ll be more decentralized – in Laval, everything is centralized,” said Tremblay.

Forgive my ignorance, but isn’t the entire point of 3-1-1 to act as a centralized call centre?

Apparently not:

West Islanders and other breakaway residents will be able to dial 311 and get Montreal city hall on the line; but they will be referred to their own city halls for enquires of a local nature. However, they will be able to get help from 311 on matters relating to agglomeration jurisdiction, such as property assessments.

Ah bureaucracy. I can just smell the efficiency this service will have in getting information where it needs to go.

Free transit this weekend

For those of you confused (and you should be, the media hasn’t been very clear on this), public transit is free throughout the STM and STL networks, including the metro and its three new stations.

Little mentioned so far is that the AMT will be running special free trains from the De la Concorde metro to Saint-Jerome to celebrate its new intermodal station. The line, which normally only runs on weekdays, will have four special round trips during the day Saturday and Sunday.