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Chaos & Derailments On The Expensive TTC Prove The STM Is Actually Pretty Awesome

Sure, we're always late in Montreal, but at least our trains don't derail.
Staff Writer
STM vs. TTC: Which Is The Better Canadian Transit System?
© Jerome Cid | © Jerome Cid |
  • In light of recent chaos and upcoming fare hikes on the TTC, it's worth taking a moment to consider just how much the STM outperforms its Toronto counterpart.
  • From service delays to accessibility, here are some reasons to be thankful for the STM.

As a Montreal local, you often take for granted the quality of our public transit network. Even though we experience almost daily service interruptions and bad passenger etiquette on the bus and metro, the STM in many ways vastly outperforms Toronto's TTC network. And it's not just my Montrealer bias at play here — take a survey of any Torontonian and they'll likely tell you the same thing. 

Early Thursday morning, the TTC announced that a car derailed on Line 1, causing endless headaches and stranding thousands of commuters. Responding to the shutdown, the TTC deployed a small fleet of shuttle buses in an attempt to assist the morning rush hour. Needless to say, attempting to cram thousands of stressed-out morning commuters in buses to join the parade of car traffic didn't go too well. 

Our colleagues at Narcity documented the chaos in Toronto, which prompted Mayor John Tory to demand refunds for all commuters and an official investigation into what went wrong. 

Adding to the absurdity, the TTC announced the night before that transit fares in Toronto will be even higher. It's not like they could have anticipated the transit chaos that would ensue, but talk about bad timing. 

Montrealers might bemoan the STM, but it's often better than its Toronto counterpart. Here's why.

Service Delays 

Like death and taxes, service delays on the STM and TTC public transit networks are certain. However, how the companies handle these delays is what sets them apart. 

The Montreal metro is about 12 years younger than the Toronto subway and has its share of unique problems. One of the main differences, however, is that STM cars never derail. 

Compared to the STM's rubber-wheel design, TTC steel-wheeled metro cars are susceptible to all kinds of damage and yes, even derailment. 

READ ALSO: Montreal's REM Has Unveiled Its Official Station Names

High Fares

As of March 1, 2020, the TTC is raising transit fares. While a one-way ticket is less expensive in Toronto than Montreal, transit users in Toronto need to take out loans to afford a monthly pass. 

At a monthly cost varying between $156 to $201.90, the TTC is way more expensive than the STM's $86.50 a month. 

Another aspect of fares that the TTC gets criticized for is its focus on policing "fare jumpers." The increased presence of law enforcement has prompted some Torontonians to accuse the TTC of "militarizing against poor people."

According to This Magazine "the TTC has the third biggest ridership of any North American transit system, yet it receives the least amount of subsidies, relying almost entirely on fares to continue functioning." 

To counter a near $70 million a year loss, the TTC has hired more enforcement officers and unveiled an anti-fare evasion ad campaign that Torontonians have called "aggressive" and "violent." 


Both transit companies suffer from a lack of universal accessibility, but unlike the STM, the TTC's official action plan has fallen well short of its goals.

Although close to 60% of Toronto's subway stations are universally accessible, experts worry that the TTC won't meet its legally-mandated goal of 100% accessibility by 2025. Since the TTC relies on fares for funding, losing close to $70 million a year in fares spells doom for future projects. 

Not to mention that Doug Ford's provincial government cut $1.1 billion in funding to the TTC, further exacerbating accessibility issues. 

Meanwhile, Montreal deals with its own accessibility problems, with less than half of STM metro stations universally accessible.

An injection of $213 million in funding in 2018 will help the STM achieve universal accessibility in over half its metro stations by 2022. 

While both cities have their own complications, Montreal is clearly ahead of the game with its focused, tangible effort toward universal accessibility. Toronto, on the other hand, lags behind due to huge funding cuts.

It's also worth comparing the TTC and STM customer interfaces. For all its perceived faults, the STM's customer service system is transparent, efficient, and aesthetically uniform. Information is more difficult to find on the seemingly outdated TTC website.

While both the TTC and the STM each have their own unique issues, the STM has bold, forward-thinking initiatives that have a clear and established completion date. The TTC meanwhile, is mired in funding issues and a rapidly ageing rolling stock of vehicles. 

The STM is marching boldly into the new decade with plans for network expansion and increased accessibility. 

Whether the TTC can rise to meet its challenges in the 2020s remains to be seen.

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