You might've noticed a new feature on the Société de transport de Montréal's (STM) articulated buses these past few days. You're not dreaming, it's true – the STM is finally installing OPUS card readers on the back doors!

The project, which began a few weeks ago, has seen the gradual installation of these all-new and more effective OPUS card readers. The readers will replace the current system in the front and also appear inside the back doors, allowing passengers to enter in the rear.

With a total cost of $16.6-million, this project is part of the STM's plan to revitalize and modernize its bus fleet. According to their official press release, the STM has purchased 2,727 new card readers and will gradually begin installing them across their articulated bus lines this summer.

Currently, the new readers aren't activated and riders won't be able to use them until March 2020. The STM has decided to install them throughout the summer because their articulated buses aren't used as frequently. 

The new card readers will, according to the STM, "speed up card reading, resulting in a better flow of customers aboard buses, and their installation at the rear doors of articulated buses will optimize all-door boarding." 

At first, the new card readers will only accept OPUS and L'Occasionelle smart cards. Riders will still be able to pay with cash at the front of the bus and eventually, with debit and credit cards.

We spoke with Phillipe Dery, Public Affairs Councillor for the STM and he says "new card readers have the physical capacity to read bank cards but we need to implement a new technical solution to enable this payment option." Teams are working on this solution and card readers will be able to process payments by 2023 the latest. 

Articulated buses first appeared in the STM's fleet in 2009. They were part of the first wave of new modernization initiatives for Montreal's public transit services. 

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The STM's new project is split into three phases. Currently, in phase 1, the company will oversee the proper installation of these new machines across their articulated bus fleet. 

In March 2020, Phase 2 will begin and riders will be able to use the new card readers on a limited number of bus lines. After quality control, the STM will gradually begin to activate the new card readers. 

By winter 2021, all buses should be equipped with the new card readers and riders will be able to take advantage of them.

It's expected that entering the bus will become more streamlined and stress-free once they're installed. How great is it that you'll soon be able to enter from whichever door?

There are 25 buses currently equipped with the new card readers but riders should keep in mind that they are not yet activated. 

Are you excited about this new feature on STM buses? 

The project is slated to be completed by winter 2021! 

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