It is Not Simply You — Montreal’s STM Buses Have Been Late Extra Typically

Gone are the days of blissful solitude on your morning commute. At the height of the pandemic, the few Montrealers who still needed to take transit to get to work could count on wide-open roads, speedy STM buses and the demands of social distancing to get to and from the office unencumbered by commuting crowds. All that is over, and the reliability of the bus network has taken a hit as a result.

More and more STM buses have been late in recent months.

In September, the month with the latest available public data, only 76.8% of buses were on time, possibly the lowest share since November 2019 (data is missing for November and December 2020). The STM’s annual target is 80%.

And it has become a trend. There’s been a steady decline since July when buses were on time 80.4% of the time. It was 79.9% in August. The most recent peaks in bus punctuality coincided with pandemic-related lockdowns. 86.9% of buses were on time in January 2021.

Timeliness seems to have dipped as the city became more active.

That was STM Board Chair Éric Alan Caldwell’s point when questioned about the most recent decline in bus reliability at the November 21 Montreal City Council meeting. He said the STM has had to contend with an increase in road congestion since the city reopened.

His counterpart, opposition City Councilor Chantal Rossi, called the decline in STM bus service “alarming,” especially, she said, as the City of Montreal and Chambre de Commerce have pushed for a downtown revival and encouraged residents to bring their business to the city’s central neighborhoods.

She called on the city to propose “real alternatives” to the comfort of car travel.

A graph showing the percentage of STM buses that were on time each month in 2021 and 2022.STM

Caldwell countered by pointing to the STM’s effort to revamp its bus network, including plans for hundreds of new buses, fleet electrification and additional reserved bus lanes. Dubbed Mouvement Bus, the project has as one goal to increase the proportion of trips that use reserved lanes to 70% from 24%.

Some of those new reserved bus lanes are already in the works. And the bulk of the Pie-IX BRT (bus rapid transit) line, 11 kilometers of bus-only lanes connecting Laval and East End Montreal, opened at the beginning of November.

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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