Tag Archives: metro

TRAM 3 at Longueuil: Right decision for the wrong reason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still a good idea

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

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

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

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

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

At least, I desperately hope it’s not.

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

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

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

A photo pop quiz to get the gears moving

No geography trivia quiz this week (still looking for ideas in case anyone has any). Instead, a different kind of challenge:

What are these?

UPDATE: After a dozen interesting guesses, Pascal gets it right: They’re metro turnstiles.

Old metro turnstiles

A sea of old turnstiles behind a gate at Pie-IX metro

Turnstile innards, with unrelated celebratory horn

These photos were taken at the Pie-IX metro station, where dozens of the old turnstiles have gone to die. They have been replaced by new Opus-enabled turnstiles, except for the one at each station that was kept for transition purposes (those will be joining them soon) and some exit-only turnstiles that don’t need to be replaced.

Recycling bottles in the metro

Yellow "contenants" bin accepts plastic bottles for recycling

Yellow "contenants" bin accepts plastic bottles for recycling

I noticed as I passed by the Mont-Royal metro today that a new bin has been installed next to the paper recycling. A yellow bin marked “contenants” is the STM’s first which accepts plastic and glass bottles, milk/juice cartons and aluminum cans.

Though the main issue in the metro for the past decade has been the free Metro newspaper, it’s always been a bit silly that non-paper recyclable materials couldn’t be collected in the metro system.

Hopefully installation of these bins throughout the network will come fast, and the amount of unrecyclable garbage that goes out will get greatly reduced.

Recycling bin

UPDATE (Oct. 27): The STM has begun a three-month pilot project with such bins in “islands” (together with trash and paper recycling bins) at Mont-Royal, Champ de Mars and Snowdon. Once the project is finished in mid-January, the bins will be expanded throughout the network.


Inside a new elevator at Lionel-Groulx

Inside a new elevator at Lionel-Groulx

In case you haven’t heard, the STM opened elevators in two metro stations on Monday.

They made a big splash of it (two press releases), bringing out adapted-transit-user-representing board member Marie Turcotte to demonstrate them for the cameras.

Media coverage was light: CTV, CBC, Metro. The Gazette had a photo after the fact, but a Bluffer’s Guide that morning (written by yours truly) explaining a bit of background, like the fact that only the orange line is accessible, and this little matter with the trains themselves:

The suspension system on the train cars doesn’t keep them perfectly level with the platforms. Depending on how many people they are carrying, the floor level could be up to five centimetres above or below the platform level, making it difficult for wheelchairs (especially electric ones) to cross the gap. Right now, they’re having people accompany wheelchair users with special ramps that cross the gap (riders can refuse this help if they feel they don’t need it). The next generation of métro cars, which are still years away, will solve this problem.

I took the elevators at Lionel-Groulx a couple of times for fun. Ran into an old lady who got confused and took the wrong one. Use of the elevators was very light, which is either a testament to how well designed the station is or how little people know about the elevators so far. (They’re not reserved strictly for those with low mobility.)

One thing I only noticed when I travelled there today was that the Lionel-Groulx station now has an automatic butterfly door:

Automatic door at Lionel-Groulx

Automatic door at Lionel-Groulx

For those who don’t know, the butterfly swing doors are installed at entrances to metro stations because they can be opened despite a difference in pressure on either side, which happens often when you have trains coming into and leaving the station pushing all that air around. But this is the first time I’ve seen one that’s attached to a motor.

Quick redesign

Oh, and remember that point I made about the design of the panels next to the elevators potentially leading people to confuse the emergency button for a call button? Well, it looks like there was a quick redesign of that panel:

Panels at Berri-UQAM (left) and Lionel-Groulx (right)

Panels at Berri-UQAM (left) and Lionel-Groulx (right)

It’s possible this was part of the plan all along and these decals just didn’t get installed until after the elevators opened, but to me that seems unlikely.

Two metro elevators open on Monday

An elevator at Berri sits just above a recently reopened escalator.

An elevator at Berri-UQAM sits just above a recently reopened escalator.

The STM has asked the media to assemble at the Lionel-Groulx metro station on Monday morning to mark the inauguration of elevators there and at Berri-UQAM.

The elevators, whose construction began more than a year ago, are the first to be put in service on the island, and will join the three stations in Laval as the only ones so equipped. Elevators at Bonaventure, Côte Vertu and Henri-Bourassa are also under construction.

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Metro service extended for Stevie

The Montreal Jazz Fest kicks off Tuesday night with a giant free concert featuring Stevie Wonder at the new plaza across from Place des Arts. The concert, which starts at 9:30 p.m. with opening acts, is expected to run pretty late into the night, and the STM has decided to extend service on the green, orange and yellow metro lines by a half hour to accomodate traffic (in addition to adding more trains during the evening).

Final departures on the orange and green lines will be 1:05am instead of 12:35am, and final departures on the yellow line will be at 1:20am instead of 12:50am.

For those who haven’t taken the last metro before, the last trains of the orange and green lines wait for each other at Berri-UQAM and Lionel-Groulx to make sure people transferring don’t get stranded. The trains are scheduled so the last ones depart in all four directions from Berri-UQAM at 1:30am.

For those of you going to the concert, you’ll want to be on the platform at Place des Arts at 1:15am if you’re heading east, 1:25am if you’re heading west. If you’re taking the yellow line, try being there no later than 1am.

The STM also announced Monday a bunch of other stuff they’re doing with summer festivals, although most of it is in the form of cross-promotional discounts or free shuttles.

About those escalator pictograms

The Laval police department is stubbornly standing by its officers who arrested and ticketed a woman for not holding an escalator handrail and having the gall to protest when they demanded she do so. This action caused outrage that is still giving Patrick Lagacé column ideas.

The argument for the police isn’t logically wrong. The STM’s bylaws require people to obey pictograms and there is a pictogram telling people to hold handrails. The fine issued wasn’t excessive legally.

But there’s a reason why courts are run by human judges: laws must be interpreted through the filter of common sense.

For example, if we posit that escalator pictograms must be always followed to the letter, what to make of this:

Pictograms on the moving carpet at Beaudry metro

Pictograms on the moving carpet at Beaudry metro

So strollers have to be held in front of you.

But strollers are prohibited.

Perhaps this is why the STM doesn’t ticket people routinely for ignoring these warnings. Even they don’t take them seriously.

Holding the handrail of justice



On behalf of the news media, I would like to extend a thank you to Bela Kosoian and Laval police.

Our jobs can be hard sometimes, and during these spring months, as everyone goes outside and tries out their BIXIs and stuff, it’s hard to find something to be unequivocably outraged about.

But a Globe and Mail story came out on Saturday reported a woman was fined for not holding the handrail on an escalator (and not following police demands that she do so), and the need for outrage was obvious.

Reporters filed stories about her ordeal, photographers took pictures of a sad-faced woman holding a ticket in front of an escalator, columnists turned the outrage meter to 11 and bloggers just went ahead and called Laval police Nazisrepeatedly.

It even got some international attention in the “news of the weird” category, and a mention on Boing Boing, which was in turn Dugg.

For the benefit of those who haven’t gotten the story emailed or Facebooked to them a thousand times already, here’s what supposedly happened:

Kosoian, a 38-year-old student and mother, was heading down an escalator at the Montmorency metro station, and either ignored, didn’t hear or didn’t understand repeated instructions from a Laval police officer to hold the handrail. When she got to the bottom, she was handcuffed and issued two fines: One for not holding the handrail ($100) and another for obstruction ($320). Oh, and she also says there was OMGPOLICEBRUTALITY!!! because the handcuffs were too tight.

There’s no specific provision in the STM’s regulations that requires holding handrails on escalators, so a more general one was cited instead:

4. Dans ou sur un immeuble ou du matériel roulant, il est interdit à toute personne:

e) de désobéir à une directive ou un pictogramme, affiché par la Société;

Of course, the fine was excessive and the supposed infraction entirely benign (the escalator pictogram also prohibits strollers, a provision which is also routinely ignored). Even the STM said they don’t fine people for such things.

Kosoian will probably win her case in court, if it isn’t dropped outright by the prosecutor, especially after all this media coverage. Laval police, for their part, are justifying the actions of their officers, but that kind of blind loyalty is to be expected, especially where the officers were technically in the legal right to do what they did.

For next week, can we get a phone company who’s abusing a grandmother by not letting her cancel her service?

La Presse in the metro

Yesterday as I left my apartment to go to work, I was surprised when my paper wasn’t there to greet me. Instead, there was a copy of La Presse in its place. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get a paper once in a while (it’s not like I pay for it, and I can just grab another one at work), and since my apartment is the only one of 11 units in the coop that gets any sort of newspaper subscription, I’m guessing it was just the delivery person throwing out the wrong paper.

The cover certainly piqued my interest (though I was aware of its contents having read a Montreal City Weblog item earlier that day): a special report on life in the metro.

Saturday’s stories include discussions with the various people you see in the hallways: buskers, shopkeepers, cleaners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, old people, and some of the less common sights like monks and blind people figuring out station layouts. There’s also a multimedia component online that includes some audio slideshows of interviews with other people.

Jean-Christophe Laurence also has a peek into the shift of a metro changeur, who says the most annoying thing about working there is having to be confined in a box and asking permission whenever you want to leave it.

But more interestingly, there are articles from Katia Gagnon on the workers who perform maintenance on the tracks between 2am and 5am when no trains are circulating and the power to the rails is cut, as well as those who monitor the tracks while the trains are running.

It reminds me of a piece that Alex Dobrota did for the Gazette three years ago in which he spent the night with maintenance workers.

Intervention des ambulanciers

Today, La Presse continues on a sadder note, talking about suicide in the metro. Hugo Meunier discusses the statistics, the most interesting of which is that 2/3 of people who throw themselves in front of metro trains survive, though they’re left with serious injuries and disabilities. He reports on a specific incident as an example (an article with a staggering seven anonymous sources, perhaps demonstrating how little people want to talk about it) and asks whether the STM, police and media’s policies of pretending suicides don’t happen is actually helpful at preventing copycats.

I’ve never actually witnessed a metro suicide (though I’ve seen the cleanup), so I can only imagine how disturbing it can be.

I can’t help but think that the statistic that shows you’re more likely to be seriously hurt than die attempting suicide in the metro would make a lot of people think twice about using that method to end their lives. Of course, then they’d just choose a method that wasn’t so public and we’d never know.

Un gros merci

About a week and a half ago Mike Boone wrote a column about a discarded tea bag he found at the Georges-Vanier metro station (hey, it’s a slow news week), asking why we’re so disrespectful to our public places that we can’t walk the extra five feet to the trash can. The column sparked a lot of response.

I found it funny because at about the same time he spotted that tea bag, I used the station for the first time since its renovation and found this, thanking users for dealing with the station’s summer-long closure:

Un gros merci