Transit Improvement Ideas

The STM customer service committee held a public meeting in NDG on May 14th and yours truly was there!

Fagstein has his take here.

Some of you might find some of the suggestions self-centered, however, I can only talk about the issues that I know about.  I’m sure there are other annoyances on other bus routes arround the city.  Having said that, here are the suggestions that I made to the committee:

More reserved bus lanes

The plan de transport issued by the city has identified 40 km of roads that will have priority measures for buses implemented over the next 10 years.  However, since the plan was issued and approved by the city and agglomeration council last year no routes have been put in place.

In order to be effective, there is no need for expensive traffic light preemption systems.  Simply paint some lines on the road!

Improve the Côte-Vertu and Gothier intersection

The current configuration of the Côte-Vertu and Gothier intersection does not permit most of the buses that terminate at the new AMT Côte-Vertu bus terminal to use the reserved lane between Marcel-Laurin and Decarie.  It is not unusual to have buses stuck in traffic for several traffic light cycles before being able to turn left onto Gothier.

Buses that need to turn left and cannot use the reserved lane:

  • 70, 174, 177, 213, 215, 216, 225, 470

Buses that can use the reserved lane

  • 121, 171

In order to improve the situation and to improve the bus flow in the intersection the following modifications should be made:

 

  • Move the stop line for the 3 non-bus lanes (shown in red below)
  • Implement a priority bus green light for the right-most bus lane to allow buses to turn left across the other three lanes of traffic.

These changes will allow all the buses that that stop at the AMT Côte-Vertu bus terminal to use the reserved lane.

Improve communication between Montreal and the STM

In the peak of the winter, there was a portion of the bus route #213 that had only been snow plowed but not actually cleared for two weeks.  The day after the snow fall, the STM diverted the buses to a parallel road.  For the first week I accepted it because there was obviously a lot of snow and there were lots of areas that needed the snow clearing more. 

The bus diversion caused many people to walk extra distance in a narrow street (twice as narrow as normal).  There were several near-accidents that I witnessed that were caused by drivers not being considerate to the people walking on the street.

However, after seven days, I got a bit frustrated and called the STM’s compliant line.  The call centre staff were very polite but told me that they were aware of the problem but they could not tell the city to intervene to remove the snow – only citizens could complain to the ‘311’ line. 

After I spoke to the staff at the city’s call centre (also very polite), I was told that streets in industrial areas have the same level of priority as residential streets and streets with bus routes get no extra consideration. 

During the course of the 2nd week there were some segments of the streets in the area that were cleared but they were not the ones that were causing the bus diversions.  This tells me that the City is not told of problems that affect STM bus services.

During the second week I called back two other times to say that the street had still not been cleared.  I was called back to be informed that the snow would be removed on the weekend.

My return to work on the 14th day after the storm was pleasant because the city had in fact removed the snow over the weekend.

STM Operations Center should work together with the borough public works departments to make sure that the buses run smoothly!

Install Clocks at Main Bus Terminals

If clocks were installed at main bus terminals, all the user groups, from COs, drivers and passengers would all be able to know if the scheduled bus is early, late or on time.

All too often, everyone looks at their watch to know when the bus is coming.  If everyone’s watch was synchronized to a central reference then there would be no problem.  The reality is that the driver’s watch may be several minutes faster or slower than the passengers waiting.

Optimize bus routes

There are many bus routes that are absolutely jammed for portions of the route and then empty out only after a few stops to a reasonable level of crowding.  In my personal experience, the ’90 – St-Jacques’ afternoon service from Vendome east-bound is very crowded.  However, by my stop, there are far more people that get off than get on for the portion Vendome to Madison.  A 90X limited stop service that goes from Vendome along St-Jacques but turns North onto Cavendish to return back to Vendome like a 105-Sherbrooke would allow about 3 additional departures per hour per additional bus. 

Similarly the 213 west-bound morning service from Cote-Vertu has a reasonable level but an uneven service pattern.  Once it has departed Cote-Vertu terminal, almost nobody gets on or off the bus over the portion of the route that is duplicated by the 121.  The average service speed of the route could then be improved by eliminating stops on this portion of the route.

More Express Bus routes

In comparison with other North American cities, Montreal has very few limited stop or short turn bus routes.  I think the STM can do more to compete with cars on certain routes.  The evolution of the 470 Fairview-Cote Vertu route is a perfect example:

  • March, 2005 – The 470 was introduced as only a rush-hour service
  • October, 2007 – Expanded to an all-day service
  • March, 2008 – Expanded again to add service until 9pm (instead of previously 7pm)
  • May, 2008 – Weekend service added

Can we find another example of this elsewhere on the island?

Congratulations to all the other citizens that care about their city that took that time to come out to the meeting!

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