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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Time for Montreal buses to get bent

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An articulated RTL bus passing beneath the Bonaventure highway

Montreal needs articulated (also known as bendy or accordion) buses! Anyone who rides some of the busier routes in the city would certainly agree. I was originally writing this article to ask where the hell our articulated buses are but I then came across two stories in today’s Gazette (here and here) saying that we’re getting them as part of Tremblay’s ambitious transit plan. So, the question now is, why didn’t we get them a long time ago?

It could be argued that the huge cuts made to the STM in the early ’90s made buying such buses impossible, however, the STM purchased hundred of new buses (which are now riddled with problems) in 1996 and 2001. Couldn’t some of these been articulated? I dug up this undated questionnaire indicating that the STM was indeed planning on buying articulated buses and was even testing a few models. Nothing seems to have come from it. Many cities in Canada (including Longueuil, as pictured above) have had articulated buses for years. I am at a loss as to why our many overcrowded routes would not have served as an indication of their need a long time ago.



  1. The STM has been planning to buy articulated buses for years. In 2004 they even tested some on various routes during the morning rush hour; I was waiting for the 535 on Park when, to my surprise, an accordion OCTranspo bus from Ottawa pulled up to the curb. By the time it passed Mount Royal it was entirely full — which should tell you a lot about how many people take the 535 bus and how badly articulated buses are needed.

  2. Oh God, I ride the 535 bus once and awhile and it is indeed very crowded. Du Parc is always a very busy route, even the night bus.

  3. look guys, those articulated buses are not meant for the city of Montreal due to street restrictions, this is especially true to the route 535

    For example, in winter times the buses often having a hard time to go uphills on Cote des neiges between Dr Penfield and the General hospital due to the road condition.

    Also, it would be very hard to make a right turn for the northbound 535 on Bleury/Parc, Sherbrooke corner due to the traffic during rush hour, and road space constraint.

    Articulated buses is only good for connections, such as the route for the RTL between Brossard terminus and Bonaventure terminus with only few stops, large roads with little narrow turns, no uphills, lots of travellers.

  4. The 535 is one of the lines slated to receive articulated buses, though. Its entire route consists of reserved bus lanes so it has plenty of space to negotiate. The turn at Park and Sherbrooke shouldn’t be any harder to negotiate than with a regular-sized bus; articulated buses are… articulated. The accordion bit connecting the two halves entires that they can make relatively sharp turns.

    If articulated buses can ply the narrow streets of central London, they should have no trouble on the broad avenues of Montreal.

  5. I read with interest about Montreall buying articulated buses. Ottawa has about 100 0f these types of buses and in the winter, they cause all sorts of problems. The main trouble is that the drive wheels are at the rear of the buses and this causes them to tend to jack knife. With the snow and ice on Ottawa’s roads, the bus company, OCTranspo has a further problem. They have been unable to get snow tires for the buses.
    I hope Montreal does not have the same trouble with their fleet.

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