Since the STM announced a plan to repurpose the soon-to-be-defunct MR-63 cars, one question has dominated the minds of Montrealers: how should Montreal reuse the old metro cars?
A full-on call for proposals has been launched by the STM regarding the new life for the old MR-63s, and plenty of articles have already popped up pitching potential ideas, and since we're completely unoriginal, we thought we'd do the same.
Casting off completely basic ideas like remaking the metro cars into roadside casse-croutes or the like, we've drummed up some unique (and altogether better) ways in which the MR-63s could be repurposed. If you're particularly inspired by one idea, feel free to write out a proposal to the STM on our behalf.
Public Transit Info Centres
Seeing tourists wander about the city of Montreal, unaware of where to go or how to use the metro or bus networks is annoying for everybody involved.
Information centres are already set up around the city to alleviate this issue and provide newcomers to the city with essential info, but they'd be much more noticeable (and aesthetically pleasing) if they were old metro cars.
It makes thematic sense too, with an old metro car housing needed info on public transit/getting around the city, thus prompting tourists to actually head there (instead of asking you on the street) when in need.
Dynamic Metro Entrances
This may be a major stretch, and might not be that feasible from a construction perspective, but how dope would it be if the old metro cars were remade as physical metro entrances? Really dope is the answer. For a visual, here's what a metro-car-entrance could look like.
Montreal has no shortage of festivals, and plenty of ephemeral stands and shops are set up at almost every event. Grand Prix or the annual sidewalk sales on Saint Laurent street are great examples. So rather than have dingy tables or over-the-top stands, old metro cars could be used by festival organizers to house all sorts of vendors or activation-sites.
Organizers could use the metro cars as they please, or they could be used for a specific function at every major festival (e.g. selling water or a rest station) so you can instantly recognize them.
A Homeless Shelter
Homelessness is a prevalent issue in Montreal, one that always comes to the forefront during the harsh winter when you can't help but feel incredibly bad for anyone without shelter from the bitter cold. To aid the issue, all those metro cars could be linked together to make a public shelter for the homeless, like has already been done in Beijing.
Remake Them Into Public Terrasses
You've no doubt seen industrial containers remade into a free-to-use outdoor terrasses (there's one on Saint Laurent street every summer) and the same could easily be done with the old MR-63 cars. Altogether charming, this would also offer more places to commune in Montreal's busiest areas and streets.
Have Them Become Bus Shelters
From the metro to the bus network, not only would the idea to remake the MR-63s into bus shelters make perfect thematic sense, it would also just be really cool to see metro cars line the city's streets.
Create A Public Transit Museum
Given Montreal's long public transit history, it's about time there was a musuem showcasing this aspect of the city's ongoing story. This is a bit of a large endeavour, obviously, but one that would add a lot of cultural value to Montreal while also ensuring the old metro cars are put to great use.
The cars themselves could house various exhibitions while also standing as pieces of public transit history, making for a veritable meta-musuem, which is just really cool to say.
Rebuild Them As Public Work Spaces
Rather than have all of those pay-as-you-go cafes or startup offices where you pay for a single desk, it would be pretty cool if Montreal created a public work space (or several) out of the MR-63s. Place one or two in boroughs that are popular with young professionals, artists, and startups (Mile End, Griffintown, Saint-Henri) and the metro-car-work-space would provide a valuable service to Montrealers while not being as boring as another shared office space or cafe.
Put Them In Playgrounds
Here's one for the kids: have the MR-63s recreated as amusing centres of fun in Montreal playgrounds. The ways in which the metro cars could be remade into playground fixtures are limitless, and it would truly make your heart warm to see children finding joy in the metro cars that have served Montreal for so very long.
Fresh Fruit Stands Or Mini-Markets
As far beyond the realm of reason as this would be, if the City of Montreal launched a new healthy-eating initiative that saw the old metro cars pop up in boroughs as fresh produce vendors, we'd all benefit. That's asking for a lot, of course, but the metro cars could still function as such. Various mini-markets pop up in certain areas throughout the year (e.g. Prince Arthur, Peel) and the MR-63s could be used as stand-ins for basic tables.