The wait for a bus in Montreal just got longer

Click to play video: 'Waiting for the bus in Montreal just got longer'
Waiting for the bus in Montreal just got longer
WATCH: As of Monday, bus riders in Montreal can no longer rely on getting on a bus every 10 minutes. The Société de transport de Montréal is scrapping its policy guaranteeing a 10-minute maximum wait time on the remaining eight lines that still offered the service. Global’s Gloria Henriquez reports – Jan 9, 2023

Bus riders in Montreal can no longer rely on getting a bus every 10 minutes.

Starting Monday, the transit authority is scrapping its “10 minute max” service guarantee on the remaining eight lines that still offered it this year: 18 Beaubien, 24 Sherbrooke, 33 Langelier, 64 Grenet, 103 Monkland, 106 Newman, 141 Jean-Talon east and 406 Express Newman.

Those lines now have a frequency of once every 12 minutes.

The STM says the decision was made due to a deficit caused in large part by the decrease in ridership as a result of the COVID pandemic.

“Since the pandemic, changes in customer habits have impacted the demand and ridership from one bus line to another. Consequently, the service was adjusted on each of the network’s bus lines to ensure that the service offered is in line with the new customer habits,” said Justine Lord-Dufour, a spokesperson for the STM.

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Before the pandemic hit, the transit authority offered the “10 minute max” service on 31 lines.

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Ridership levels had been on a steady increase since 2017 — but in 2020, as lockdowns were put in place and more people worked from home, bus ridership plummeted.

“With new travel habits, the addition of preferential measures (i.e. reserved lanes) or the arrival of major public transit projects such as the SRB Pie-IX, the REM or the extension of the blue line, we are completing an internal exercise to review all of our service families (such as 10 minutes max service) and we have undertaken a redesign of the bus network in the recent years to make it even more attractive and better adapted to changes on the Island of Montréal,” Lord-Dufour explained.

Bus riders though are disappointed services are being cut.

“It’s crazy,” said Andrew Harris. He says he often has to call his boss to tell him he’ll be late due to unreliable bus service. “Now I have to come out earlier because the ten minutes don’t work anymore.”

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Public transit advocate Samuel Pagé-Plouffe says service cuts are bad news.

“We’re entering some sort of vicious cycle because when you reduce the amount of services, you reduce the ridership and then it has an impact on the revenues,” Pagé-Plouffe said. “Last year the government of Quebec made a very clear commitment that they would not reduce the amount of public transit services and I think we should keep this as a consensus.”

Both the provincial and federal governments stepped in to help during the pandemic with short-term investments to keep the transit authority afloat while ridership decreased.

“They should step in with a clear commitment for say, the next five years, so we have a clear vision of where we’re going,” Pagé-Plouffe.

Pagé-Plouffe says a well-funded public transit is a good social, economic and environmental investment as it reduces the number of cars on the road.

Click to play video: 'Service cuts to Montreal public transit on the horizon'
Service cuts to Montreal public transit on the horizon

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