If you passed through Bonaventure metro station on Wednesday, you might've noticed that the benches that run alongside the entrance corridor were covered with wooden planks.
Benoit Langevin, Critic for Homelessness and Youth for the official opposition on city council, took to Twitter to expose the covered benches, which are usually a popular congregating spot for unhoused Montrealers.
The station remains accessible to people experiencing homelessness.
"The Plante [administration] allows the [STM] to implement measures to ensure social distancing where homeless people come to warm up at the Bonaventure metro on a daily basis," the city councillor wrote.
Describing the boards as "hostile architecture" and "anti-homeless," Langevin asked why such measures aren't in place elsewhere in the metro.
L’admin Plante permet que la @stminfo mettent en place des mesures pour s’assurer d’une distanciation sociale où le… https://t.co/DC4FWYkNuC
Responding on Wednesday evening, the STM said that the installation of wooden planks is "designed to ensure smooth and sanitary traffic flow in a corridor where many people pass each other, even during the pandemic."
The transit company insisted that the measure is "temporary" and "is not applied in less busy areas of the station."
A 2019 New York Times article said that so-called "hostile architecture" increasingly appears in major cities to "maintain order, ensure safety and curb unwanted behavior such as loitering, sleeping or skateboarding."
2/2 Cette mesure est temporaire et n’est pas appliquée dans des zones moins achalandées de la station où des person… https://t.co/kQVYMSH0AQ
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.
It's a Christmas miracle! The STM, Montreal's transit authority, has finally released its much-wanted ugly Christmas sweater after huge demand for it last year.
According to a press release, "After a show-stopping debut last year, the STM sweater is back, now available for the first time in the STM online store."
[Brrrace yourself!] For some, the sight of the first snow is exciting, for others it makes you want to hibernate until spring. Either way, the cold season brings its share of unforeseen events on the road. If you have to go out, be careful and plan your trips.pic.twitter.com/K8pXpT1mid
Last year, the sweater took the town by storm after the STM presented it as a prize for a contest. With only a limited quantity available, folks looked on in envy at the contest winners and their snazzy new ugly Christmas sweaters.
Along with the sweater, the STM also remade the metro map with hilarious Franglais holiday names like Aca-Dinde (Acadie) and Côte-Ver-Tuque (Côte-Vertu). This holiday-themed map adorns the front of the sweater.
The STM describes the garment as a "long-sleeve, crew-neck fleece sweater" with "a map of the Montréal métro decked with fun and festive versions of each station name, making it the perfect attire for any holiday party, virtual or in person."
But don't wait until the holidays, because this sweater is sure to sell out fast! The STM has only released a limited quantity.
For each sweater purchased, the STM has promised to "donate $10 to the STM generosity campaign," which partners with Centraide of Greater Montreal, the Canadian Red Cross, Réchaud-Bus and HealthPartners-Quebec.
The sweater is available only at the official online STM store and is priced at $39.99 plus tax.
Quebec-born actress Caroline Dhavernas will become the personality of the REM. According to a news release, she's perhaps best known for her work on TV series Les beaux malaises and Mary Kills People and movies De père en flic 2 and Hochelaga, terre des âmes.
Dhavernas is also the daughter of Michèle Deslauriers, the actress who voices STM metro announcements.
Dhavernas' voice was chosen for the REM following a public vote. Out of three then-anonymous options, her voice won out with 14,200 votes.
"Without knowing it, the public voted for a voice that echoed that of the Métro de Montréal," the REM said in the release.
In a promotional video, Dhavernas said she thought "it'd be really funny" if Montrealers ended up choosing her voice.
"Now that it worked out, I can't believe it," she continued. "Because when I take the metro with my daughter, I tell her that she's hearing her grandma's voice and that when we'll take the REM, we'll hear my voice."
She said that when she went into the audition to be the voice of the REM, she was still recovering from a sinus infection and tried to vocalize from her stomach instead of her nose to compensate.
"I have to admit that even I could barely recognize myself when I was listening to it on the website during the vote since my voice was slightly different because of the sinus infection."
The first branch of the REM is set to start rolling in 2022.
A viral video shows someone collapsing on the Montreal metro after getting caught between closing train doors at Lionel-Groulx station. Metro passengers rush to the person's aid, eventually moving them to a seat as one person calls on someone to pull the train's emergency lever.
But the act was a stunt.
"Vroom Vroom," the person in the video, @vroom_vroom514 on Instagram, told MTL Blog that they staged the incident to see how metro riders would react to such an emergency.
The video managed to rack up over 57K views in the 24 hours after it first appeared on the @vroom_vroom514 account.
"I did it because since COVID like everybody is by himself and I want to see if people will help me," they told MTL Blog.
About a dozen passengers seem to offer help in the video.
While the Instagrammer feigned unconsciousness on the ground, one commuter rushed to help them, asking if they were alright while trying to shake them awake. They even seem to check the prankster's pulse.
"Vroom Vroom" was curious to see "if people would care about a random person."
The viral video has recieved a lot of negative social commentary on social media platforms.
As for the STM's view on the matter, they told MTL Blog "this video already received much more exposure than it deserved and we do not wish to bring any more attention to it. There is nothing positive about faking an health emergency, needlessly worrying métro clients and damaging our rolling stock."
This isn't the first stunt on the Instagram page, which has a following of 22,000 people.