On Oct. 14, 1966, Montreal’s metro system was unveiled to great fanfare.
One million passengers flooded the system opening weekend. Dignitaries inaugurated the first stations and the trains were blessed by the archbishop of Montreal.
The original system had 26 stops on three lines: yellow, green and orange.
It was completed on time and on budget, just in time for Expo 67.
As Montreal’s population grew, so did the system.
Twenty-six stations expanded to 68. The last extension to Laval was completed in 2007.
Celebrations marked the 50th birthday of the metro.
The Montreal Symphony Orchestra performed a specially composed piece at Place-des-Arts station.
Even the Société de Transport de Montreal chairman Philippe Schnobb was enjoying the music, trying to recall with a foggy memory of his first ride on the train.
“I came for the Expo with my family,” he recalled. “I was so young I barely remember but I know how important it is for Montrealers.”
Thousands of Montrealers use the metro everyday.
Passengers were thrilled to ride the metro in 1966 but in 2016 the lustre might have worn off.
“We take it for granted,” Schnobb said.
“People don’t realize how important it is. Do you know how many people are in the metro in peak hours in one day? Two hundred thousand. It’s like the sixth biggest city in Quebec.”
That is still too small to quantify how many riders have taken the metro over the years.
For that, you might have to think a little bigger.
“The cars travel more than 3-billion km,” Benoit Clairoux, a metro historian, said.
“We have almost 10 billion people who have taken the metro. It’s like if every person on planet Earth took the metro at least once.”
The metro is still changing to this day.
Extensions have been proposed, stations have changed names and access for disabled people added.
The next big step is getting the new Azur metro cars rolling.
So what will the Montreal metro look like 50 years from now?
We asked riders what they want to see on Oct. 14, 2066.
“It feels like they always going to suburbs, but they’re never going East or West,” commuter Hugo Quezel said.
“Azur looks good, the new ones look good, definitely better than Toronto,” Micheline Andrews joked.
“The most important thing is to see more frequent metro that has a bigger range,” said daily metro rider Ziad Naas.
It’s a big birthday wish as Montrealers blow out 50 candles for their metro.