Coronavirus: Montreal public transit enforcing front-door boarding, fare payments, mandatory masks

STM returns to enforcing its ticket validation and front-door boarding on buses
STM returns to enforcing its ticket validation and front-door boarding on buses

Public transit users now have to board from the front the bus to pay their fares and exit from the back.

Around 2,000 buses were retrofitted with plexiglass to protect drivers and riders.

Some Société de transport de Montréal (STM) users see the benefits for both parties.

“In terms of safe, it’s better this way for the bus driver and the community and it puts you in a good position to take care of yourself, too,” says Alessandro Ursulet, STM user.

Others, however, don’t agree.

“It’s saving themselves; it doesn’t really help us … that much, but it’s something really good for the bus drivers because it’s how they make their living,” Kaelie Brossard, public transit user, told Global News

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Read more: Montreal transit returning to mandatory front door boarding on Monday

Since July 20, some buses equipped with a new protective panel have been introduced, but now the entire network is outfitted with the new safety measure.

Riders say the feel safe using public transit but argue that it is hard to maintain two-metre distance and mask can’t always be enforced

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“You can’t really be two meters when you’re sitting next to somebody you don’t and you don’t know what they’re doing” said Dante Trooks, STM user.

“Everyone gets under and just takes off their masks,” says Brossard.

The STM, though, says the vast majority of people are following the rules.

“Ninety-eight per cent of our clients wear masks so it’s a big success and we thank our customers,” says Philippe Schnobb, STM’s chair of the board of directors.

With the return to normal operations, public transit inspectors will now be checking for valid tickets in metro stations and on buses

If you’re caught without one, you could be facing a fine of up to $500.

Read more: Coronavirus: Grace period ends for mandatory masks on public transit in Quebec

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“It was never free to ride the bus, we were more (lenient) and (understanding) during the pandemic, but now you really have to have a valid title on your opus card and show proof of payments,” Schnobb told Global News.

Since the start of the pandemic, the STM has seen ridership slowly increase.

It wants to drive home the fact that users are safe from the beginning to the end of their trip.

“To bring back people in the network we are going to need bring back trust because people might be concerned about security so we want to assure that every efforts have been to keep out metros clean” says Schnobb.

Global News spoke to some STM bus drivers who told us they feel safer with the Plexiglas installed but it obstructs their vision at night. They did not want to speak on camera, but referred us to their union for comment.

The bus drivers’ union did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Montreal motorists unhappy with reduced space for cars in the city
Montreal motorists unhappy with reduced space for cars in the city