Despite the fact that the city's bus and metro network is pretty damn efficient, Montrealers still take every opportunity to hate on the STM. I guess all those uninterrupted metro rides are eclipsed when the Orange line breaks down on a Monday morning. I get it, and in all honesty, I'm the exact same way, and regularly indulge my frustration with some STM-venting.
Criticizing the STM will (thankfully) be a fair bit harder in 2016, as the public transit corporation has unveiled their budget for 2016 that aims to solve most the bus/metro issues that make you angry.
The Chairman of the STM board of directors and Chief executive officer of the STM, along with Montreal's mayor Denis Coderre, announced the STM's 2016 budget during a press conference held yesterday, which was then outlined in a formal press release.
$1.5 billion is the set amount for the 2016 budget, "in which improving the customer experience is a core priority." Extrapolating on that fact, the STM's head honchos noted "two overriding concerns will guide the STM’s actions: planning service efficiently and reducing the deficit in asset maintenance."
Um, what were the STM's priorities before, if not the user experience and making sure everything runs smoothly? Whatever, not a big deal, at least that's the plan now.
More than a few new additions to both the Montreal bus and metro networks are planned in order to make everyone's public transit-life more enjoyable, which include:
Air conditioned hybrid buses
Out of the 27 planned-to-be-purchased hybrid buses, 20 of them are going to be air-conditioned. Sure, that doesn't mean much for winter, but come summer, you'll be thanking the high lords of the STM for keeping you cool.
Adding 45, 000 of bus service
Further making your bus experience better will be the addition of 45, 000 hours of bus service that will ideally "optimize travel times affected by road work"
Launching the real-time bus tracking app
The STM has said it before, but it seems like they're serious about finally launching the iBUS mobile app next year, which will let you track buses in real time, so you know exactly when buses will arrive at the stop.
Larger metro cars on the Orange Line
Slowly but surely, the new AZUR metro cars are going to be substituted into the metro network, first starting with the Orange line. The STM promises this "will ease overcrowding" on the line.
Adding 1.3 million car-km to the metro network
In doing so, the STM promises an improvement on "train frequency on the Orange and Green lines."
Reserved bus lanes and traffic light priority
Your bus won't get caught up in the gridlock of rush hour quite as frequently (hopefully) thanks to the addition of reserved bus lanes and "bus priority traffic lights" on 50kms of road in the city.
Getting on the bus through the middle doors
According to CBC, the STM is launching a pilot project next year where STM users will be able to get in on the middle section of those "accordion" buses. Apparently, the whole getting-on-the-middle-of-the-bus initiative will work on the honour system for those with STM passes.
I doubt everyone will follow the code of honour mandate, but hey, at least you'll be able to get on the bus more quickly.
Elevators at Snowdon & Rosemont Metro
The amount of metro stations that are wheelchair accessible is kind of abysmal, as this map illustrates. Good thing the STM is addressing that fact by slightly improving the issue by adding in elevators at Snowdon and Rosemont metro stations.
And last but not least: NO RAISE IN FARE FEES!
Praise be, because for the first time in the last few years, the STM will not be increasing prices for fares or passes in 2016, effectively "freezing fares" for the first half of the year. Hopefully the STM won't go and raise prices in the second half of 2016, but lets just count our blessings right now and be happy there won't be a price hike for at least a while.