Did your bus show up on time this week? Did it show up at all, or did you have to wait 20 minutes for the next one?
If you've been having issues with Montreal's bus service lately, you're not the only one. There’s a serious problem going on at the STM right now and it's going to get a whole lot worse in the next few weeks. The reason why your bus isn't showing up is simple; the STM doesn't have enough buses. (That's like their only job!)
TL;DR A backlog of maintenace work has led to a major bus shortage at the STM. 30% of the fleet is under maintenace, which means there aren't enough buses on the roads to meet the demand in Montreal.
There are hundreds of buses under maintenance right now. In fact, so many have been taken off the roads that the STM can’t stick to their schedule anymore.
According to the Gazette, normally in the morning the STM is supposed to deploy 1,424 buses. But in the last couple of weeks they've only been sending out about 1,273.
30% of the bus fleet has been taken off the road for repairs!
The problem has been made worse because normally at this time of the year, there's an extra rush to fix and maintain the heaters so that the bus drivers don't freeze. Plus there's still the whole backlog of work that was caused by the negotiation issues between the STM and the maintenance workers' union.
In November, the workers even held an illegal strike when they walked off the job for nearly two hours.
To make things worse the STM decided to punish some of the workers who were protesting by suspending them for up to three days without pay, so now there are even fewer available workers
Now here's the real problem. Because there are so few buses, the ones that are functional are now being overworked and will be requiring maintenance even sooner than they normally would, which means the backlog of work is going to keep increasing and the problem is going to keep getting worse.