Tag Archives: metro

Nuit Blanche Part 3: The all-night metro

Télécité time

The count stands at three. Only three times since it opened in 1966 has the Montreal metro run throughout the night:

  1. March 4, 1971, during the “storm of the century”
  2. Jan. 1, 2000, to help New Year Decade Century Millennium partiers get home
  3. March 1, 2009, during the Nuit Blanche

There are reasons beyond financial ones for the metro to stop running during the night. Overnight is when the tracks are cleaned, when maintenance is performed, when money is transferred. Subways that are open 24 hours (like in New York) have extra tracks that can be used when one is closed, but Montreal doesn’t have that luxury (unless it wants to run the metro only one way).

But, as in the examples above, exceptions can be made once in a while. The STM decided to make one this year, and organized itself to keep all 68 metro stations open throughout the night, and have trains running on all four lines.

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Board games I’d like to play

Sure, there’s Montreal-as-Boardwalk Monopoly, but how about some board games that are all-Montreal?


From metrodemontreal.com

From metrodemontreal.com

I have no clue how this game is supposed to work, but it looks fun. Spotted in a metrodemontreal.com forum post.

Montreal Risk

Montreal Risk

I played this at a Geek Montreal GeekOUT, and won. (Hint: Controlling the West Island is key.)

Sadly, I wish I could point you to somewhere to buy/download/copy these things, but my searches have come up empty. So just stare at the pictures and imagine the fun of some day conquering the Plateau.

Metro to run all night during Nuit Blanche

The metro ... after dark?

The metro ... after dark?

According to Metro (the newspaper), the STM is announcing Wednesday that it will keep the metro (the subway) running all night during the Nuit Blanche Feb. 28.

The STM has only done this twice before, once during a snowstorm in 1971, and again on New Year’s Eve 1999. The overnight hours are when maintenance is performed on the tracks, cashes are emptied and other similar stuff is done.

The Metro article is so far the only source that confirms this story (Midnight Poutine surely uses it as a source without credit and Montreal City Weblog picks the story up from there), and its wording isn’t very clear, making me suspect they might have gotten the story wrong.

UPDATE: It’s true. The STM confirmed it today. The metro will run all night long (presumably all lines), in addition to the regular night bus service. (Though considering most of the Nuit Blanche activities are in the Old Port, the Plateau and the Quartier des Spectacles, the metro might not be the most convenient method of transportation between them – it’s more useful for getting home afterward.)

In the past, the STM has opened up the Place des Arts metro station during the Nuit Blanche for performances in the metro, though it confines it to the mezzanine and doesn’t have actual trains running.

Kudos STM, but would it kill you to do the same on New Year’s Eve once a year too?

UPDATE (Jan. 29): The STM is focusing on art in the metro, including a 15-station art rally quiz thing.

There be doors here

UPDATE (April 21): After being cancelled because the stickers peeled off, the STM has restarted the project.

The STM has begun a pilot project in an effort to reduce boarding problems at metro stations, particularly during rush hour. The idea is to mark where the doors open (they always open at the same place), and create a buffer zone so that people can exit the train safely while others wait off to the side to get on. Believe it or not, this is actually a problem: people are so desperate to get on that they crowd the doors and don’t leave any room for people to get off. Sometimes it can be like trying to get to the stage of a rock concert.

The project is in place at three platforms, each with a different design.

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Turnstile terror

Turnstiles at Peel metro

Turnstiles at Peel metro

As students were forced into the new Opus smart card system when their reduced-fare passes expired on Oct. 31, the STM took the opportunity to change the configuration of turnstiles at metro stations, switching more to the newer smart-card machines.

Instead of one or two newer turnstiles and the rest using the old punch-card and magnetic-strip systems, the ratio is now reversed with a single older turnstile and the rest on the new system. Besides working with different cards, I’ve noticed the newer turnstiles are also lower, which means that instead of being whacked in the gonads when the turnstile locks up, you’re smacked in the legs.

The change quickly began irritating riders using the magnetic bus passes, who have already taken to writing letters about their frustrations.

I’m going to miss quite a bit about the older turnstiles when they’re eventually phased out entirely. Instead of reading miniature punch cards, they’re scanning RFIDs. Instead of a welcoming two-tone acknowledgment of a fare paid, there is only a single soulless beep.

Welcome Daybreak listeners

(or, at least, those who hear about a website in the morning and make a note to visit a half hour later)

In case you missed it, I was invited by CBC Daybreak to come in and give them an analysis of blog coverage of the federal election campaign (my super-secret project). I was originally supposed to go on yesterday, but with the debate going long I was bumped to today.

Unfortunately, in the first time in months (years?) that I’ve taken a metro train during morning rush hour, I experienced four separate delays (one of which had me stuck in the tunnel). I practically had a heart attack, knowing full well that radio deadlines aren’t flexible by even a second.

I gave up at Laurier metro as the lights went out in the train, and hurried outside to let the producer know I wasn’t there. They quickly decided to do the interview by (pay)phone. (One thing payphones still have over cellphones is that, because they don’t have to compress their data into compact wireless streams, the sound is much clearer and more radio-friendly. Not as good as in-studio, but desperate times…)

As I told host Mike Finnerty, I don’t blame the STM for the delays, which were due in part to technical problems and because of the traffic tie-ups those problems create. But I wasn’t thrilled with the transit corporation this morning, that’s for sure. (And, of course, the trip back home was entirely uneventful)

Anyway, we talked about this blog (it’s really a place for any opinions I like to give on anything, though I focus specifically on the media, public transit, stuff going on in the news, blogs, and of course myself. You can also read what I’ve written about the federal election so far.

We also got into the meat of the matter (though six minutes goes by so fast when you’re talking about stuff), discussing blogosphere reaction to Elizabeth May in the debates, as well as a video by Justin Trudeau (and the parody of that video by Prenez Garde Aux Chiens, whose season premiere is tonight at 10pm on Canal Vox) that has been making the rounds in the blogosphere recently.

I’ll try to get a clip of the segment up soon.

Koodo using crappy game to get attention

Interactive Koodo ad at Peel metro

Interactive Koodo ad at Peel metro

Last weekend, some metro station platform ads were replaced by a television screen inviting people to “train” with some Koodo-branded games. Koodo, you’ll recall, is the Telus-owned “discount” cellphone service which competes with Rogers’s Fido and Bell’s Solo Mobile services. It unexplicably uses cheesy 80s workout clichés as the basis for its branding.

A user interacts with a Koodo ad at Berri-UQAM metro station

A user interacts with a Koodo ad at Berri-UQAM metro station

Lo and behold, it worked. People on a metro platform waiting for a train are a notoriously bored bunch (even if they’re in a hurry). Shiny things with buttons will quickly find people willing to press them.

Unfortunately, the games themselves weren’t that good. In fact, one wasn’t even a game, it was just a menu filled with information about Koodo’s cellphone plans. The only actual “game” is a Where’s Waldo-style search game that requires the user to “scroll” through the map because it doesn’t all fit on the screen.

The game had clearly not been usability tested, because I couldn’t figure out how the scrolling worked. Tapping near the corner caused it to slowly scroll in that direction by about an inch. Dragging a finger toward the corner caused the screen to quickly scroll in that direction and then quickly scroll back. Dragging a finger away from the corner caused about the same thing to happen. (UPDATE Aug. 27: I’m not the only one to notice this failure.)


Unexpected click gives a 404 error

Unexpected click gives a 404 error

I’m not quite sure how I did this, but I somehow created a new tab in Internet Explorer (which this apparently runs on) and sent it to a page which doesn’t exist.

Closeup of Koodo ad 404 error

Closeup of Koodo ad 404 error

So apparently these ads are running on Windows servers using a two-year-old version of the Apache web server. (On the plus side, the system resets itself after a minute or two of inactivity)

I have to give Koodo credit for this one. After all, I’m blogging about it, which was the point. But it doesn’t make me want to get a Koodo phone plan any more.

The metro car ice cream parlor, and other Just for Laughs outdoor fun

The other day (you know, back when it wasn’t raining), I wandered on to the Just for Laughs outdoor fun zone. For those of you who have never been here, it’s not so much funny ha-ha (the comics are saved for shows people pay for), it’s more about having fun with games, clowns, mimes and other amusing things.

The most amusing thing for me was this: a metro car, pulled out of the garage and parked on the street to be turned into an ice cream parlor.

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Georges-Vanier metro closes for summer

The Georges-Vanier metro station will be entirely closed this summer (June 2 to Sept.5) as the STM demolishes and reconstructs parts of the station inside and outside (STM !NFO PDF). In its place, a shuttle between Lionel-Groulx and Lucien-L’Allier (or a few blocks from Lucien-L’Allier anyway) will run every 10 minutes from the opening to closing of the metro. Trains will slow down through the station but won’t let anyone off there.

Metrovision at Bonaventure station

Last week, the Metrovision system went live at Bonaventure station, with flat-panel TV sets installed above the platforms. It joins Berri-UQAM, McGill and Lionel-Groulx as stations that provide time, weather and train arrival information as well as news from RDI, and of course advertising to pay for it all.

Hope they’re tied down tight because they look really stealable. Especially if the lights go out again:

STM’s April pass is wrong

If you’re a regular transit user in Montreal you’ve noticed that the STM has been using photos of its metro stations as art on its monthly bus/metro passes.

Unfortunately, someone made an oopsie this month. The caption on the April pass says “Station de métro Square-Victoria”, but it’s clearly a photo of the ceiling of Jarry station.

April bus pass

The reason for the error? They forgot to change it from the March pass, which was of the Square Victoria station.

March bus pass