It's been 100 days since the first AZUR metro train hit the tracks of the Orange Line on February 8th, much to the joy of Montrealers.
But ever since the AZUR rolled out, only a select number of STM riders have had the pleasure of actually riding through the metro network on the cutting-edge train. It's basically a small miracle if an AZUR pulls up to your stop, as the likelihood of catching one is pretty small.
Why? Simply because there is only one, yes one AZUR on the metro, which has left Montrealers asking: where are the rest?
Originally, only 61 days were supposed to pass, with the original AZUR experiencing no technical issues, for the next AZUR to be introduced onto the metro network. We're well beyond that point, and so Global News decided to find out what the delay is all about.
Contacting the public transit company, an STM spokesperson told Global News that the tests for the second train were ongoing, and everything was going well. No comment was made as to whether there were any service-problems with the original train (thus justifying the delay) nor was a date given when the second train would be introduced.
So basically, no one has any idea when the next AZUR is going to hit the tracks. And with only one train on the tracks, and only being sent out at certain times, the likelihood of you ever even getting to ride an AZUR is incredibly slim and will continue to be.
The thing is, the ongoing delay of bringing the AZUR trains to replace the older MR-63 trains is actually costing all of us money.
Quebec's director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation went on the record to say the situation is "incredibly worrying," since the cost to maintain the old metro trains is coming from the pockets of taxpayers.
So the longer it takes the STM to bring out the AZURs, the more we're paying for it.
As it stands, all metro trains on the Orange Line should be AZURs by September 2018. Hopefully that date stays the same, because the longer the new trains are delayed, the more expensive it gets for all us average citizens.
Boucherie Slovenia, a boulevard Saint-Laurent institution for 50 years, will soon serve its last spicy sausage.
The iconic home of enormous Eastern European-style sandwiches — Slovenian sausage and towering cold-cuts were staples — will close its doors forever on January 29, said the owners, Lourdes Rodrigues and Jean Teixeira, in a Facebook post.
"Thank you to all our loyal customers, for the wonderful years," they said.
With a menu overflowing with huge, yet affordable, meat and mustard sandwiches — sauerkraut, pickles and Cherry Cokes were also standard — Boucherie Slovenia is the latest of the Main's iconic old-school institutions to close.
The beloved Moishes steakhouse announced its closure under the strain of the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
The Boucherie Slovenia Facebook post asks readers to share their memories of the restaurant and butcher shop, with many offering childhood stories of visiting for a pepperette sandwich or their "underrated" smoked meat, which is "the best in the city," according to one commenter.
Many apparent long-time customers said they wouldn't know where to go to find dishes comparable to Boucherie Slovenia's treasured menu items.
Others remarked on how yet another classic Montreal restaurant is closing its doors. "Nothing replaces these fantastic old shops," said one person. "It's a loss. The rich character of the boulevard is disappearing."
Montreal is certainly no stranger to a traffic jam, which makes taking public transit a more viable option to not only get around faster but do more good for the environment.
As Canadian cities take the initiative to improve their transit systems and reduce their carbon footprints, Montreal has become one of the country's greenest metropolitan areas when it comes to transport, according to one ranking.
A December report from Kijiji Autos analyzed green transport options in Canada's most populated cities, evaluating their use of electric cars, bikes, scooters, and the number of electric charging stations.
With its metro and bus systems, BIXI rentals, bike lanes, and availability of electric cars, Montreal found itself in third place among Canadian cities that offer the greenest transport with a score of 5.5/10.
Although Vancouver and Ottawa/Gatineau snagged the top two spots, Montreal takes the lead as the most bicycle-friendly city in all of North America, with a total of 2,163 bicycle paths, says the Copenhagenize Index.
Montreal's third-place ranking is encouraging news, said McGill University Assistant Professor of Geography, Grant McKenzie, who specifically boasted about Montreal's metro system, "especially compared to other Canadian cities," as well as its "substantial investment towards electric buses."
While McKenzie said "we can always do better" and bemoaned the city's ban on e-scooters, he called the popularity of the BIXI and the inclusion of electric bikes in its fleet an "excellent move in the right direction."
As for electric cars, Kijiji Autos looked at new registrations of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2021, as well as total charging stations. Montreal landed second to Toronto with a total of 3,633 new registered electric cars, and 1,258 electric charging stations throughout the city.
Kijiji Autos also looked at the number of hybrids and electric vehicles for sale on their platform. Montreal led the way with 1,063 hybrid vehicles and 375 electric vehicles, states the report.
With the province of Quebec offering residents a rebate for the purchase or lease of electric cars, Quebec estimates that there will be 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
The Quebec government is going to pump a ton of cash into Montreal-area public transit authorities in an effort to, hopefully, make your transit commute better. Chantal Rouleau, Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the Metropolitan Area and the Montreal Region, announced a $24.8 million financial contribution for mitigation measures in public and active transportation.
"Because public transit is a sustainable solution to road congestion, it is essential for us to maintain the mitigation measures that have been implemented and that have proven their worth," Rouleau said in a press release.
According to the government's plan, the funding is a concrete measure to implement "sustainable mobility solutions to limit the impact of roadwork on traffic in the metropolitan region."
While short on details, the contribution will be paid directly to the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), the metropolitan transit authority.
Much of the funding will be to "support measures currently in effect, such as service improvements on the networks of exo, the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL), the Société de transport de Laval (STL) and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), or the addition of incentive parking spaces," according to the government's announcement.
"These measures are in addition to the daily efforts of Mobilité Montréal's partners to coordinate construction-related obstacles and limit their number and impact on traffic," Rouleau explained.
The province has invested $443.8 million into public transit mitigation measures since 2011.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
But those who prefer to use cash shouldn't fret. The STM isn't doing away with cash payments altogether. Automatic ticket machines, the STM's network of 350 ticket retailers, and buses will continue to accept the payment.
"This decision follows the evolution of customer needs," reads an STM press release issued Monday.
Since the STM finished equipping its ticket booths with contactless debit-credit payment in December 2020, it said the option is "gaining in popularity and now represents the majority of booth sales."
The STM also said it could see recurring savings of more than $1 million with this move "by optimizing and simplifying various operational processes."
In the fall of 2020, the STM surveyed its customers and said it found that only a minority preferred cash over cards.
"A minority of customers saw a negative impact with the removal of cash, primarily for reasons of desired flexibility, without even considering that the cash option remains available elsewhere," it said.
That said, the STM is aware that some customers may not adapt easily to this change. It said it knows some Montrealers require a human touch when it comes to buying tickets. With that in mind, the STM made it clear that it'll increase the presence of agents and station managers on the floor to help customers purchase tickets.
An information campaign is also in the works to educate customers on the upcoming changes, the STM said.
Prior to this announcement, the STM was already in the process of adding new features to facilitate card-based fare purchases. In November, it introduced an OPUS card scanning feature on the Chrono app, which you can use to see how many fares you have left, and you may soon be able to use it to add fares with your phone.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.