The use of public transport remains significantly lower on the South Shore of Montreal than in the north, show new data from the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). In both sectors, the drop recorded last July, during the tariff overhaul, seems to be gradually being absorbed.
In September, the only station on the South Shore, that of the Longueuil–Université-de-Sherbrooke terminus, received only 59% of its pre-pandemic ridership. Meanwhile, the three resorts on Ile Jesus, Cartier, De La Concorde and Montmorency, were about 67% of pre-COVID-19 levels.
These new data show that public transport has started to grow again, after a decline observed in the summer. The Press recently reported that average daily admissions fell 16.2% in July, compared to June, at these four off-island resorts.
While more than 32,000 admissions were recorded on average in June at the four stations outside Montreal, this number fell to less than 28,000 in July. Experts then judged that the entry into force of the new rates in July, driven by the ARTM rate overhaul in the suburbs, was the “most plausible” cause of these declines in ridership.
The unit ticket notably went from $3.50 to $5.25 on both shores, before being lowered to $4.50 in the face of popular discontent.
Since then, the situation seems to have been resolved, at least in part. Going from 53% to 52% of the pre-pandemic level between June and July, the Longueuil station started to rise again to finally reach 59% last September, which represents just over 476,200 passengers per month.
Laval is doing better… for now
In Laval, after a marked drop from 61% to 58% between June and July, traffic also started to rise again, reaching 60% in August, then 67% in September. This represents approximately 683,800 monthly trips.
Overall, in September 2022, the STM counted “46,692 metro entrants per average weekday at Laval and Longueuil stations, which represents 63% of the ridership level recorded in September 2019”, analyzes the spokesperson for the transport company, Philippe Déry.
According to him, the variations observed in recent months “are mainly explained by the annual seasonality, with a decrease during the summer and an increase at the start of the school year”.
The pandemic, telecommuting, events, weather, and other factors also have an impact on traffic. It is not possible to isolate the impact of each factor.
Philippe Déry, spokesperson for the Société de transport de Montréal
In the rest of the island of Montreal, the downward gap “is notably more marked at downtown stations and at intermodal stations linked to the commuter train network where the proportion of teleworker customers is typically higher”, also notes Mr. Déry.
For now, the STM does not have updated data for the month of October. However, it’s a safe bet that these figures could continue to increase, especially on the South Shore, in the wake of the mega-construction site in the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel. Since October, in its daily reports on the mitigation measures surrounding the megasite, the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility has reported weekly increases of around 20%, on average, on the yellow line.
Quebec adjusts again
Faced with mitigation measures so far little used around the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel, new adjustments were also announced by the Legault government on Wednesday.
The exo-520 and exo-521 lines, which transported barely 50 people each day in both directions with departures every hour, will be “merged” from November 28, in order to offer more speed. Additional stops have also “been added to the shuttle route according to the needs observed on the ground, in particular in front of 7500, rue Tellier, in Montreal”.
From November 21, a first free “health shuttle” will be deployed. Line 462 of the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) will leave from the De Touraine and De Mortagne park-and-ride lots, then go to the Radisson terminus and then to the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital, which employs 5,000 people.
The Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility (MTMD) specified that “the deployment of a second health shuttle to reach a greater number of establishments is under discussion”. According to our information, five other health establishments are the subject of an analysis. In interview with The Press, last week, the director general of the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), Benoît Gendron, indicated that the following shuttles could be designed “with smaller vehicle sizes”. “We had discussions with the STM to see if there were any minibuses available. The other stage will be shuttles for the industrial sectors,” he said.
On the South Shore, the area covered by the RTL’s “on demand” shared taxi service will be expanded as of November 28. In addition to the Harmonie and Boisé districts, the service will now be offered within the Sainte-Julie, De Touraine and De Mortagne incentive parking lots.