I live in Montreal and this is why I don’t take public transportation

I live in Montreal and this is why I don’t take public transportation
I live in Montreal and this is why I don’t take public transportation

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

I live on the Island and I refuse to take the metro or the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) buses. It’s not bad faith, I swear although I am lucky to have my own car. It’s mainly to simplify my life, with the multiple trips I have to make with my work and above all to reduce my stress. Indeed, if there is one word that could well describe public transportation in the metropolis, it is “stressful”.

Last year, Mayor Valérie Plante affirmed that the cuts of just under 20 million announced by the STM would “absolutely not” affect the quality of the service rendered. Interesting, because I doubt this supposed quality.

Here are the three reasons why I still prefer the traffic behind my wheel to our ineffective public transport.

Disgusting when faced with journeys that are too long, from yesterday to today

In the 2000s, when I was a student and still living with my parents in Lachine, in the southwest of Montreal, I used public transportation every day.

Even today, there is no access to the metro nearby. The closest stations are Angrignon and Lionel-Groulx. At the time, I had three bus options (lines 191, 195 and 495), with journeys varying from 25 to 45 minutes to then access the underground network. And the situation hasn’t really changed since – except for the commuter train option which is no longer. Then, at the metro, I had to go through several more stations to get to my destination – either at Cégep Jean-de- Brébeuf (Côte-Sainte-Catherine or Côte-des-Neiges stations) or at the University of Montreal (Université-de-Montréal or Côte-des-Neiges station). My total travel time: 1 hour and a half.

Every day, I spent three hours on public transport, completely drained of my day.

I also remember the time when I was very ill and my mother had to transport me to Sainte-Justine Hospital…by public transport. It was the longest ride of my life.

Another example: my sister Émie never wanted to drive. She lives in Verdun, near a metro entrance. She always travels by public transportation, except when she needs to go shopping at Ikea or go to my brother’s house. The latter lives in Dorval, just 15 minutes from her home by car, but an hour’s journey by bus (she has to take three bus). Impossible to convince me, in these cases, of the simplicity of urban mobility.

Montreal’s public transportation network is therefore far from serving all Montrealers who do not have a car. There is a severe lack of service in the West (Lachine, Dorval, Pointe-Claire, Kirkland…), the East (Mercier-Hochelaga, Tétraultville) and the North (Rivière-des-Prairies, Montréal-Nord) of the City. Montreal is therefore facing a bitter failure in terms of urban mobility.

My traumas as a student, from long journeys on public transport, have followed me until today. As a journalist living in the East of Montreal – there is no metro station near my home, I refuse to waste a lot of time traveling to the South-West, to Laval or even to Longueuil.

However, a glimmer of hope was incarnated in me when the Caisse de Dépôt et de Placement du Québec announced the REM de l’Est project. However, it was immediately extinguished because this new route (serving the East, the North-East and Laval) of the Metropolitan Express Network will not see the light of day before 2036.

Why become a public transport user when the network does not allow me to save time and even complicates my travels, due to outages and service slowdowns? Why doesn’t Montreal have an efficient transportation system like Paris or New York?

In good frenglish : it’s zero user friendly when you live outside the metro network circuit, which is quite central.

I fear for my safety (attacks and outdated metro stations)

Another point: user safety.

Currently, an increase in criminal acts and violence has been noted in the Montreal metro network – at least 12 attacks on customers have been publicized since the start of the year.

This year, as Narcity Quebec informs us, complaints to the STM linked to feelings of insecurity have multiplied.

Anecdotally, my sister had her cell phone stolen from her coat pocket without her knowing it. How did she know? His wireless headphones were connected to his phone which played his music. In the train car, Émie told me that a bunch of guys kept staring at her. They finally got out at a station and at the same time she lost her phone’s Bluetooth connection. Hello flight, goodbye cell phone!

This is without counting the number of times a guy masturbated in front of me on a bus or in a train car (this happened to me three times and I felt psychologically violated) or even when I am being insulted gratuitously by intoxicated people. Among other things, there are all the times I witnessed conflicts, shoving and shouting matches between two bus stops or metro stations.

And what about the nine metro stations that urgently need a facelift? As Amélie Régis, corporate advisor to the STM, argued in an article in Narcity Québec: “the metro currently remains safe, but its performance is already degraded due to the aging of its assets. Massive investments are necessary in the short and medium term to preserve its performance and reliability.”

In my opinion, these allegations are not reassuring.

Do you find it normal that security is unstable, that the quality of service is deteriorating, but that prices continue to increase?

Increased traffic and breakdowns during rush hour

In addition, taking the metro or the bus during rush hour is a real test of patience for me. Ridership increased by more than 20% last year, while 288 million trips were made across the network in 2023, according to the STM’s latest activity report.

Statistics prove that a large number of Montrealers use public transportation. However, the STM’s resources are not keeping up: there are not enough buses for certain lines and the metro does not run regularly at certain times, as reported by the Journal de Montréal concerning the reform of public transport in Nuns’ Island. Buses and carriages are sometimes so crowded that people complain of not being able to breathe..

As for breakdowns or interruptions of services, the STM reveals still worrying figures in this report: “We also note a 22% increase in the number of complaints linked to interruptions of metro service in 2023” we can read on their website.

It’s over to see life in pink with the famous pink line

Remember that Prime Minister Legault recently insulted the mayors of Quebec and Lévis by calling them “beggars” after a meeting with Mayor Marchand of the national capital. And at the beginning of May, there were the clumsy and controversial comments from the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault. She said in particular: “Managing public transport and transport companies is not a mission of the State”.

In this context, where financing is still a very problematic issue, I believe that we can definitively put an end to the dream of real urban mobility. The same one that Mayor Valérie Plante sold to us during her first elections.

I’m talking about the famous pink line project in 2017. Do you remember it? Know that it is almost dead, the government having suspended all consultation on the South-West section. In addition, the current metro network has a mega economic deficit, estimated at $284 million according to the Regional Metropolitan Transport Authority (ARTM).

With all this, the mayor seems to have taken off her rose-colored glasses and put her energy into cycle paths, which have become her new priority.

And personally, until the network is truly efficient and secure in every way, I will continue to travel with my Mini.

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PREV Communications Advisor | Cancer Research Society
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