Shuttle bus owned and operated by the town of Montréal-Est. Photo courtesy of Montréal-Est Town Hall.
Backed by a law that grants them a public transit monopoly in Montreal, the STM has halted one municipality’s initiative to shuttle residents to the nearest metro station.
Citizens of Montréal-Est were often left waiting at bus stops in the cold as 3 or 4 overflowing buses coming from the Eastern tip of the island passed them by. So beginning on November 17th, the municipality of Montreal-Est began a pilot program to shuttle local residents to the Honoré-Beaugrand metro terminus free of charge.
A bus owned by the municipality, driven by a municipal blue collar worker, makes two trips to the metro station each weekday morning. The shuttle essentially follows the STM’s 86 bus route, picking up passengers at 9 stops in the the residential part of town. After one week in service, it transports 20-30 people per day.
An STM employee, who spoke with Spacing Montreal on the condition that they not be named, said that STM bus drivers spotted the blue shuttle bus in Montreal East reported it to their union. STM union officials tore down the shuttle bus stop signs, which had been affixed to existing STM infrastructure. Yesterday, STM officials and lawyers met with Montreal Est city hall, to demand that the shuttle service be shut down immediately.
Louis Lemay, the Director General for the town of Montreal-Est, stressed that the shuttle bus is not meant to compete with the STM service and, in fact, delivers STM clients directly to the metro.
However, STM communications officer Marianne Rouette said that that, by law, the STM is the exclusive provider of public transportation on the Island of Montreal. The municipality of Montreal-Est would have had to obtain a special permit from the Commission des transports de Québec, which was not done. Nor, she says, did the municipality contact the STM to relay the complaints that they had received from citizens.
Following the meeting, Montreal-Est’s shuttle program will shut down on Friday. Meanwhile the STM has promised to look into increasing service on the over-burdened route.
However it’s clear that the STM is having trouble making ends meet on more than one route. If the municipality of Montreal-Est is willing to fund a shuttle bus, perhaps the STM shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the favour. Afterall, easy access to the metro will only increase the STM’s clientelle and their satisfaction with the service.