As Montreal's roads clog up with traffic this fall, river-based transport is riding the tide of popularity. The river shuttles running to the Old Port will extend their service for longer this year — an announcement sure to buoy many spirits. Instead of wrapping up by October 15 as planned, two routes will continue until November 12, provided the water and weather cooperate.
River shuttles between the Old Port and destinations like Boucherville, Varennes, and Pointe-aux-Trembles are witnessing a rise in demand. As of September 3, the shuttles clocked 340,000 passages, up from 256,000 the previous year. The shuttles span six routes, connecting Montreal Island, Île Sainte-Hélène, Île Charron, and the South Shore.
The route between Montreal's Mercier neighbourhood and Boucherville offers a free service, aiming to alleviate traffic from the under-repair Louis-Hippolyte-Lafontaine Tunnel.
"The river shuttle is a sustainable option offered to residents to avoid road congestion between the South Shore and Montreal… the service meets a real need," said Quebec Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault in a statement.
For those on two wheels, bicycles are accepted on all shuttles, contingent on available space, though they travel at the owner's risk. Animal lovers, meanwhile, can bring their dogs, but only if they're securely stowed in a closed crate or carrier.
Convenient departure points have been established across the city. From Longueuil, the shuttle leaves from the Longueuil Marina near Parc Marie-Victorin, with access for pedestrians and cyclists via the footbridges and Chemin de la Rive. If you're driving, head to Parc Marie-Victorin where parking is available. Departures from the Old Port of Montreal are typically from the Jacques-Cartier Pier. However, from October 16 to November 12, due to specific dock constraints, riders should embark from the pier at 400 rue de la Commune Ouest instead. Meanwhile, on Île Sainte-Hélène, shuttles depart near the swimming pool bathhouse.
Commuters have the option to use an "all-modes" pass for boarding the shuttles within appropriate transit zones. Without the pass, a one-way trip costs $5.50 for adults.
Montreal River Shuttles
Where: Old Port – Île Sainte-Hélène – Longueuil; Old Port – Boucherville; Old Port – Pointe-aux-Trembles
Cost: $5.50 for a one-way pass. Free for children aged 11 and under.