Like many Montrealers, I just doled out mad cash money for my OPUS card subscription. When I was a student, the roughly $40/month wasn’t too bad. Especially because I was suckling off the teeth of my parent's bank account. But now that I’m a real person, $77 a month for access to the STM leaves a gaping hole in my pocket. I can still feel the loonies trickling out…
Mind you this is $77 for a system that breaks down on the regular! I’ve already voiced my opinion on this, but it needs to be said again. A system that is used by millions of commuters every day needs to be reliable. Montreal residents pay taxes and that precious $77 for access to buses and trains they expect to take them to work on time in the morning. We pay for this shit, so it best work properly. Do not make us have to have a backup-plan every morning .
I can already hear the naysayers saying, “well then take the bus, you lazy [expletive deleted]” Here’s my problem with the bus: there is no telling when it will show up. The schedule seems to be a loose suggestion of when the bus might decide to roll up. I personally don’t want to wait half an hour in the cold for a bus that may or may not come. When it actually does come, who knows how long it’s going to take you to wherever you’re going. In the winter the bus moves about 1 km/hr in the snow. If it’s summer, there is probably construction going on and the bus route is congested with traffic. It once took me an hour and a half to get from Westmount to the Plateau. That should be a half-hour bus ride! F*ck that tardy bullshit.
My other problem with the bus is the fact that you have to pay in exact change if you don’t have a charged OPUS card. Never mind the fact that $3 per trip is ridiculously high. Who the hell always has a three dollars jingling around in their pockets? I visited Berlin a few years ago and took the bus from the train station to my hostel. You know how they combat paying for your fare with big bills? They have change. Can STM bus drivers not count? Then get a goddamned automated machine. Let’s take a leaf out of the German's books as they are one of the most efficient countries in the world and try to make our own city a bit less dysfunctional.
What's more to say than that is the fact although the STM sucks, we can't do anything about it. And they know it. We need them. We rely on them. We're slaves to the unjust power they wield over our heads. They have our pedestrian balls in the palm of their hands, and they don't hesitate to give a little twist now and then.
There is one jokes (but barely redeemable) aspect of riding the metro:
Have you ever taken a look at the STM driver when two trains pass each other? Drivers have a pretty hilarious way of greeting each other. I’ve seen them give each other a friendly peace sign, a casual head nod, and even exchange a suggestive wink while they pass. Keep in mind that a majority of the people who drive these trains are old, overweight women who rock permed white hair. Swagger.
What do you think, Montreal? Am I overreacting or is the STM ripping us off? Voice your opinion in the comments.
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.
Next time you take the bus, take a closer look because you might just be one of the lucky Montrealers who get to experience the STM's all-new electric buses. This month, the STM is testing its new fleet and allowing customers to board.
"The several weeks-long testing periods will be the first time that the public has ever boarded the vehicles, representing one of the final phases of performance validation before the official commissioning," the STM says in a press release.
[100% electric] In the next few weeks, you may have the chance to see one of our electric buses, and even get on board! Trials with passengers begin today. This is the last step before our @newflyer commissioning, in 2022!pic.twitter.com/Tq8eupPvML
The STM purchased 30 of these buses and aims to officially roll them out in 2022.
This final stage of testing means they're operating on actual routes for the first time.
"The main objective of this testing phase is to check all the features that could not be validated during the phases conducted without passengers, such as boarding and exiting, real-time information display, payment system functioning and customer comfort," the STM says.
These tests will also determine which routes and schedules are the best fit for the new buses.
A limited number of vehicles will be zooming around bus lines that serve "the western and northwestern areas of the city," according to the STM. They'll only be in this part of town because the buses are being serviced at the Stinson bus garage, located on that part of the island.
The company could not confirm exact routes.
"If the testing goes as planned over the next few weeks, the STM is confident that it will be able to commission all of the new vehicles in winter 2022," the transit company says.
Eventually, high-speed elevators will bring passengers from the entrance at the surface to the station in the rocky depths of Mount Royal.
The REM plans to leave parts of the station's rock walls on display to "remind" riders of "its close relationship with the mountain."
A schematic shows the REM connecting to the blue line via a long corridor to the metro's mezzanine level.
Once the Édouard-Montpetit station opens, the REM says riders will be able to reach Brossard in 22 minutes and the northern termini at YUL-Aéroport-Montréal-Trudeau, Anse-à-l’Orme and Deux-Montagnes in under 30.
Trips to the McGill green line metro station and the Gare Centrale by train — which currently require a circuitous route around the mountain and multiple transfers — will only take three to four minutes.
Work on the REM is steadily chugging along, and details about its characteristics are slowly coming out too. Most recently, it announced that the voice of its in-transit announcements will be none other than that of Caroline Dhavernas, daughter of Michèle Deslauriers, the voice of the Montreal metro.