For the rest of the holiday season, you might notice another voice while taking your usual bus route, one you've never heard before. Who is this strange new bus passenger? Well, it's not a person, as you'll be hearing the automated voice of the STM bus itself, if you happen to take certain lines.
Strange I know, but don't worry, because this isn't a back-talking vehicle/Knight Rider situation, nor have STM buses attained sentience and are planning our doom, à la Stephen King's Christine.
Rather, this is an upgrade being made to all STM buses, in which a new electronic display signs will tell passengers what the next stop is. Driving the point home even further, the electronically enhanced buses will also announce the next stop.
Every bus in the STM network will attain this upgrade in 2016, but only two routes are being tested right now: the 32 (Lacordaire bus) and 144 (des Pins bus). Preliminary testing of the new system will end on December 23rd for both routes, reports TVA.
The new sign-and-speech feature of Montreal's buses are part of the larger iBus system, the mobile bus tracking smartphone app we've been waiting on forever which will finally be launched next year. So not only will you now hear and see when the next stop will be inside the bus, but you'll be able to track when a bus is going to arrive anywhere else.
What does an STM bus sound like? I haven't been on either of the tested routes, so I couldn't tell you, but a part of me hopes every bus is voiced by Michèle Deslauriers (better known as the STM metro voice-lady), simply for the sake of continuity.