The STM has seen fewer riders since the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, the STM has faced significant decreases in ridership as events were moved online and unnecessary travel was discouraged. In 2019, the most visited station was understandably Berri-UQAM, a downtown hub and key transfer station. That year, Berri-UQAM saw over 12.6 million visitors, according to the STM's annual report. But in 2020, that number shrank to just under 4.4 million travellers.
This shockingly large decrease has lasted through 2021, where three out of five of the most used stations reported slightly fewer riders than the previous year, with the exception of Atwater and Vendôme, both of which saw ridership increases of less than 500,000.
The metro network is still seeing significantly less use, and thanks to an information request by transit enthusiast and Wikipedia contributor Derek Lee, MTL Blog was able to access ridership data for 2021 across the entire network. Here are the top and bottom three STM stations in terms of ridership for last year, starting with the third most visited station.
The third most used station is the central downtown McGill station, which was the second most frequented in 2020. The station saw 3.4 million riders in 2021, quite a bit less than the 4.1 million recorded in 2020.
Another downtown green line favourite, Guy-Concordia was the second most visited metro station in 2021, with just under 3.6 million visitors. The year before, Guy-Concordia hosted 3.8 million people: another slight decrease, though still nowhere near the 2019 peak of 10.2 million riders.
At the very top is Berri-UQAM, the queen of inter-line transfers and home to countless hurrying commuters. In 2021, Berri-UQAM sheltered 4.2 million travelling souls, only a slight decrease from 2020, when the station still reigned supreme with 4.37 million passengers in total. All three of the most popular stations are centrally located near downtown hotspots, so it's not surprising to see them at the top.
The variations between stations mid-pandemic are relatively slight, and it's easy to lose sight of just how far traffic has fallen since COVID-19 came to Quebec. In 2019, Berri-UQAM saw a now-stunning 12.6 million riders, almost exactly three times as many as visited in 2021.
Now, let's get a sense of the less busy side of things. Here are the three least visited metro stations of 2021, in order from most to least popular.
#3: De La Concorde
De La Concorde sits low on the ridership rankings but high on the metro map, right before the orange line terminus of Montmorency, which received much more riders in 2021. De La Concorde only saw 609,854 passengers last year, a more than 40,000-rider decrease since 2020. It's understandable that this stop didn't get as much traffic, considering its peripheral location right near the end of the line.
Second-least popular is Georges-Vanier, another orange line stop situated close to a more popular station: this time, line transfer hub Lionel-Groulx. Georges-Vanier welcomed just over 500,000 visitors in 2021, a good 30,000 more than it saw in 2020.
And finally, we have our queen of loneliness: yellow stop Jean-Drapeau. The station's neighbour, Longueuil—Université-de-Sherbrooke, was in the top ten most visited stations this year, but the lack of festivals made Jean-Drapeau a less appealing spot.
In 2021, the sad little station received only 445,350 visitors — still an improvement from a puny 227,401 riders in 2020. Derek Lee, who also requested these data from the STM in 2020, gave MTL Blog his thoughts on this saddest of stations, which experienced an increase in traffic despite landing at the bottom of the list again in 2021.
"Jean-Drapeau experienced significant increases as festivals slowly began again," Lee suggested to MTL Blog over text, "With festivals at Jean-Drapeau park becoming more frequent, we should see more ridership, like in the pre-pandemic years."