Montrealers are rejoicing this morning after finding out that you can buy a device which will allow you to reload your opus cards from home. It's no wonder people are happy, reloading a card can be a nightmare. No more running to the nearest station in a panic and no more waiting in seemingly endless lines. Sounds pretty good right? Or does it? Well as it turns out, you have voiced your concerns and it's worth exploring the value of this new "convenience".
Bigger companies are at risk, so why not the STM? When Starbucks rolled out their app that let's you check out with your phone, it was quickly hacked by criminals. And they didn't just steal users' Starbucks money, they used the app to infiltrate users' PayPal and drained their entire bank accounts.
It's also important to remember that Quebec is notorious for card fraud. Pre-paid credit card fraud is so common in Quebec that the SAQ has recently decided to stop accepting them all together because they are unable to prevent these kinds of scams from happening. This doesn't exactly give me peace of mind considering the STM and the SAQ are both run by the government.
So what about the STM's track record? After all, they do have impeccably flawless services that never get shut down, they never have any technical issues and they're system never crashes because of their amazing software. In case you couldn't tell that was sarcasm, those things actually happen constantly. And yes, I realize this has nothing to do with online transactions but it has everything to do with the way the STM is managed in general. The lack of oversight is staggering.
But who knows, maybe this system is perfect and there's absolutely no risk of fraud. I guess you have to ask yourself: do you have any concerns about the STM Opus card being hackable?
The Quebec government is going to pump a ton of cash into Montreal-area public transit authorities in an effort to, hopefully, make your transit commute better. Chantal Rouleau, Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the Metropolitan Area and the Montreal Region, announced a $24.8 million financial contribution for mitigation measures in public and active transportation.
"Because public transit is a sustainable solution to road congestion, it is essential for us to maintain the mitigation measures that have been implemented and that have proven their worth," Rouleau said in a press release.
According to the government's plan, the funding is a concrete measure to implement "sustainable mobility solutions to limit the impact of roadwork on traffic in the metropolitan region."
While short on details, the contribution will be paid directly to the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), the metropolitan transit authority.
Much of the funding will be to "support measures currently in effect, such as service improvements on the networks of exo, the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL), the Société de transport de Laval (STL) and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), or the addition of incentive parking spaces," according to the government's announcement.
"These measures are in addition to the daily efforts of Mobilité Montréal's partners to coordinate construction-related obstacles and limit their number and impact on traffic," Rouleau explained.
The province has invested $443.8 million into public transit mitigation measures since 2011.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
But those who prefer to use cash shouldn't fret. The STM isn't doing away with cash payments altogether. Automatic ticket machines, the STM's network of 350 ticket retailers, and buses will continue to accept the payment.
"This decision follows the evolution of customer needs," reads an STM press release issued Monday.
Since the STM finished equipping its ticket booths with contactless debit-credit payment in December 2020, it said the option is "gaining in popularity and now represents the majority of booth sales."
The STM also said it could see recurring savings of more than $1 million with this move "by optimizing and simplifying various operational processes."
In the fall of 2020, the STM surveyed its customers and said it found that only a minority preferred cash over cards.
"A minority of customers saw a negative impact with the removal of cash, primarily for reasons of desired flexibility, without even considering that the cash option remains available elsewhere," it said.
That said, the STM is aware that some customers may not adapt easily to this change. It said it knows some Montrealers require a human touch when it comes to buying tickets. With that in mind, the STM made it clear that it'll increase the presence of agents and station managers on the floor to help customers purchase tickets.
An information campaign is also in the works to educate customers on the upcoming changes, the STM said.
Prior to this announcement, the STM was already in the process of adding new features to facilitate card-based fare purchases. In November, it introduced an OPUS card scanning feature on the Chrono app, which you can use to see how many fares you have left, and you may soon be able to use it to add fares with your phone.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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.