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Montreal Gas Prices Have Gone Up, But People Still Aren't Taking The STM Like They Used To

Hard-to-break pandemic habits are a possible driving factor. 🚗

MTL Blog, Staff Writer
Two people walk by an Ultramar gas station, while another person bikes past.

Two people walk by an Ultramar gas station, while another person bikes past.

Montreal gas prices have been on the rise since the start of the year, hitting a record high in May, but that hasn't pushed more people to take buses and trains. Drivers have been shelling out $2.10 per litre on average since Tuesday with costs likely to rise further by the weekend, according to CAA-Quebec. But the STM hasn't seen an influx of new riders as a result.

"Ridership has been fairly stable since April, at just over 60% of the overall expected pre-pandemic ridership level," STM spokesperson Philippe Déry told MTL Blog.

The public transit system struggled to retain commuters after repeated province-wide lockdowns during the height of the pandemic. The 2021 STM annual report, released in April, showed ridership was down 44.2% since the onset of COVID-19.

That's in keeping with trends seen in the rest of the country. Data from Statistics Canada shows that, as of March, only 52.1% of pre-pandemic passenger volumes have returned to mass transit nationwide.

The starkest gas price increases in May coincided with a major easing of health measures, which drew a significant return of customers to public transit.

While ridership continues to improve as commuters return to their workplaces, few seem to be driven to change their travel habits based on prices at the pump.

"Typically, the price of gasoline has a relatively weak impact on the modal shift towards public transit," said Déry.

"It remains difficult to change the habits of someone who already has access to a car, although a spontaneous significant increase in the price of gas can further encourage the use of public transport. The increase must happen over a long period of time for there to be a modal shift."

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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