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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

STM to finally launch airport bus service

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On March 29, the STM will launch the 747 “Express Bus” which will shuttle travellers and airport employees between downtown Montreal and the airport.  For anyone who has ever tried to take the bus to the airport, this is more than welcome news.  Currently, one must take a ridiculously convoluted route to make the simple and more than common trip from Montreal to Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport in Dorval.  It consists of taking the Metro to Lionel-Groulx, catching the almost-always crowded 211 bus to the Dorval train station then transferring to the 204, a bus that comes about once every half hour.  It is not unusual for people to skip the transfer and trek across the highway to catch one of the parking lot shuttle buses instead.  All this with however much luggage one’s trip requires.  The bus ride from the airport to Montreal is even less fun with the 204 going in both directions stopping at the airport with only a confusing handwritten sign saying which bus goes which way.  I always felt sorry for the 204 driver.

It seems as if a shuttle bus would be a given considering the fact that Montreal’s airport is the third busiest in Canada and that almost any other city on Earth has some sort of direct airport to central core shuttle service.  No matter, we have our bus now, so how will it work?  Fagstein, as per usual, breaks it down excellently but here are the basics:

Fares: A single fare will cost 7 dollars and will come with a day-long unlimited use pass.  Such passes already exist for this price so this isn’t really a deal.  Any other pass (CAM [reduced or regular], TRAM, 3 day tourist passes, and day-long passes) will be accepted like any other bus, with no additional cost.

Frequency: The bus will pass every 20 minutes during the weekday rush-hours; every 30 minutes between rush-hours, in the evening, and on weekends; and every hour between 1am and 5am.

Stops: There will be 9 westbound stops and 10 eastbound stops.  The downtown terminus is at Station Centrale where it will either depart or terminate.  The bus will run on boul René Lévesque, stopping at major intersections along the way.  There is another stop at Lionel-Groulx Metro station then non-stop to and from the airport.  This route allows boardings and departures near most of the major downtown hotels and attractions. A map of the bus’s route can be downloaded from these links: French, English.

The bus: The bus will be a regular STM NovaBus retrofitted with luggage racks and fewer seats.  The exterior of the bus will feature a modified version of the STM’s “Movement Collectif” branding with a picture of an airplane and the route number.

It should also be noted that this new route will make the (more expensive) private Aérobus service redundant and it will cease to operate when the 747 begins service on the 29th.  Taxi service won’t be affected but they’re not happy.



  1. I don’t want to be a complaining curmudgeon because I do appreciate that at least an effort is being made, but it seems like a pretty mediocre solution. First of all, why don’t they just make a regular bus service that goes directly to the airport? Why not just take the bus that goes to that bizarre stop in the twilight zone and put it directly to the airport?

    This “express” bus solution kills the Aerobus, which really wasn’t bad and still sounds like a better solution for those of us living in the Plateau or points east. At worst it had two stops before the airport. Now we have to get farther downtown and then sit through a whole bunch of stops. I guess one could take the train to Lionel-Groulx and catch the bus from there. I’ll try that strategy out.

    And I’m not clear on how this works with a Carte Opus. If I have the kind that I refill, will that not work? Do I just have to buy a separate ticket?

    I do like the frequency. How long it takes to get to the airport has yet to be seen.

    I’m not going to condemn it outright, but this is far from the best solution.

    Now can we please get a friggin’ train in place!

  2. You forgot to mention the idiotic time-varying 204 bus-stop location at Dorval terminus. During rush hour you have to go through an underground tunnel to the other side of the train tracks. The only thing that indicates the need to use the alternate location is a poorly visible French-only sign indoors.

    Every day people stand outside waiting for the 204 that doesn’t show up for hours because they aren’t in the right spot. I shudder to think the number of people who have ruinous experiences daily. It is really inexcusable to have, not only bad bus service to the airport, but such atrocious and confusing signage.

  3. Ah! Finalement.
    Voilà une nouvelle qui sera bien accueillie!

  4. Long overdue. By the way, the bus terminal no longer has the “Station centrale” name, which is ghastly French. It is la Gare d’autocars I believe.

    Another route is better for me, living near Jean-Talon, but the 460 bus doesn’t run all hours – it just runs very extended rush hours (but certainly until 7pm – check timetable). It runs alongside the 40 – I get it at Crémazie métro station, outside the FTQ building. Still, the new bus will save me time and hassles.

  5. Last time I took the Aérobus to Dorval airport I was the only person on it, save the visible minority bus driver. Being hopelessly anglican, I of course felt completely, nerve-wrackingly guilty about this situation.

  6. The location of the 204 stop changes with the time of day? I always knew the STM likes to employ retards, but this (if true) is ridiculousness squared.

  7. walkerp, I suspect the reason it’s not regular fare is to appease the cabbies a little.

  8. I totally agree with the author. I always felt bad for the bus drivers on the 204 and even on the 211. Lotsa turists taking the bus, asking questions in English, to get answers in French, regular commuters getting all irate on the delay for these, people getting pushed around with luggage (the 211). Not a very good 1st impression for Montreal for the turists either.

    I think this is awesome! My mom will be thrilled next time I pick her up with this bus.

  9. BTW, taxi drivers complaining just drives me nuts. These guys complain for everything! The complain against BIXI (because in the past ppl wouldn’t mind paying 5$ to go somewhere near downtown, but now they use BIXI), against gas prices, against streets being closed for pedestrian use, now against this bus! Geez!
    1) Bus drivers are always in a better mood than these guys (try riding with a cranky taxi driver)
    2) Bus drivers drive so much better (taxi drivers step on the gas and always are pissed when they drive)
    3) Bus drivers try answering your questions even if you ask frequently
    4) Buses stink, but you can open the window (taxi drivers hate you to do this in winter and some cabs DO stink)
    And also, if you take a taxi from the airport. It doesn’t matter if you go somewhere near, they have a fixed minimum of 15$ (someone correct me here)!!

    I also believe, that those who take a cab to or from the airport will continue to do so, and those who where the users of the 211/204 buses are the ones who will definitely benefit. So taxi drivers, stop whining for once!

  10. This is a step in the right direction. Reliable public transit from and to the airport is something Montreal has desperately needed, $38 for a taxi one-way is ridiculous.

  11. It is still not clear to me why this costs 7$. The bus, from what I can tell, is well used. Why is this not considered a regular bus fare? I can go all the way to Ste-Anne with three people on my bus for $2.75, but I need to pay almost twice that for an airport bus? This is just another move towards a corporate model of service that calculates price on how desperate people are rather than on community need and use.

    It means that someone without a car can’t meet relatives at the airport in a cost effective way (it will cost them $14 alone). It STILL means that people with little money will be waiting around for the milk-run. 

    I moved to Montreal because it didn’t discriminate against the poor like so many other cities in Canada, but I see a familiar trend in this two-tiered bus and it makes me feel dreadful. 

  12. @CLAIRE,
    You have the round trip for 7$ + a STM pass that is good for 24hrs. and if you have your regular STM monthly pass, it’s free.
    I tried the service a few times and it was perfect. One bus every ten minutes. Happy drivers. Fast run (30 min. from terminus to terminus).
    And you have space! The Aerobus is 15$ one-trip, old and stops at every hotel on the way.

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