Next time you take the bus, take a closer look because you might just be one of the lucky Montrealers who get to experience the STM's all-new electric buses. This month, the STM is testing its new fleet and allowing customers to board.
"The several weeks-long testing periods will be the first time that the public has ever boarded the vehicles, representing one of the final phases of performance validation before the official commissioning," the STM says in a press release.
[100% electric] In the next few weeks, you may have the chance to see one of our electric buses, and even get on board! Trials with passengers begin today. This is the last step before our @newflyer commissioning, in 2022!pic.twitter.com/Tq8eupPvML
The STM purchased 30 of these buses and aims to officially roll them out in 2022.
This final stage of testing means they're operating on actual routes for the first time.
"The main objective of this testing phase is to check all the features that could not be validated during the phases conducted without passengers, such as boarding and exiting, real-time information display, payment system functioning and customer comfort," the STM says.
These tests will also determine which routes and schedules are the best fit for the new buses.
A limited number of vehicles will be zooming around bus lines that serve "the western and northwestern areas of the city," according to the STM. They'll only be in this part of town because the buses are being serviced at the Stinson bus garage, located on that part of the island.
The company could not confirm exact routes.
"If the testing goes as planned over the next few weeks, the STM is confident that it will be able to commission all of the new vehicles in winter 2022," the transit company says.
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.