Public Transport | Always in slow motion

Public transport ridership is only slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels

Posted at 5:00 am

Luise Leduc

Luise Leduc
The press

Not even rising gas prices will change that. The rush on public transport is nowhere near as high as before the pandemic. In the metropolis, according to the Société de Transport de Montréal (STM), about 60% of the visitors are before the pandemic.

At the Société de transport de Laval, Nathalie Vaillancourt, communications and marketing consultant, speaks of “stagnation”. “Although the recovery is well underway in all sectors of the province, in public transport, particularly in Laval, we note that ridership is now at around 70-72% compared to the same period before the pandemic. »

Teleworking is not the only cause. “My spouse thinks that our 4-month-old baby is still too weak to be taken on public transport,” explains Mélissa Bédard. So I go for a walk to do my neighborhood shopping. If I have to drive further, I wait until he comes home in the car. »

Nathalie Gallant also went on a shot while living downtown during the pandemic. Because her lungs were very fragile, she refused to take public transportation. As a Lachine resident, she has no choice but to get back on the bus and subway, but having burned herself from her two major COVIDs, she’s cutting back on her trips.

There really aren’t many people on the subway. But the 496 is full all the time, and I often have to let buses pass before boarding…and wait the entire trip. We urgently need more buses on this route!

Nathalie Gallant, resident of Lachine


Hard habits to change

The price of petrol does not change the public transport offer at the moment. “It remains difficult to change the travel habits of a person who already has access to a car, although a significant spontaneous increase in the price of petrol can further encourage the use of public transport,” observes Philippe Déry, PR consultant at STM. The increase must be of long duration for the effects on modal transfer to be felt. »

At the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) in April this year, we had 54% of the number of visitors recorded in April 2019.

But in September, subject to a big wave, RTL expects a return to school with an attendance of 85% compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.

And the arrival of the Metropolitan Express Network (REM), work on the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel – causes of monster congestion on the other bridges – and the development of businesses in the agglomeration could “put pressure on the demand for public ones” in the autumn means of transport,” predicts Marie-Claude Rivest, responsible for press work and government affairs at RTL.

“But our range of services will likely be quite constrained by the expected budgetary constraints due to the drop in income. »

Pest between two construction sites

Those driving in from the south coast aren’t done swearing. With the works on the tunnel, the number of vehicles on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels (2,489,000 vehicles in April 2022) and on Samuel-De Champlain, the numbers are exploding with an average daily flow of 142,495 (compared to 84,924 in May 2020).


The bike path and sidewalk on the Jacques Cartier Bridge are growing in popularity: 32,400 crossings were recorded in April despite the month’s inclement weather, according to Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges, a federal Crown corporation responsible for two bridges in particular .

Transit’s biggest selling point is traffic. Lise Rheaume, who lives in western Montreal and hates traffic jams, never drives downtown. “The bus passes in front of my house! »

There is hardly a public transport partisan like Florence Junca-Adenot, now professor of urban and tourism studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal, president, CEO and founder of the Metropolitan Transport Agency.

It welcomes the establishment of river shuttles already in operation, transportation on request like this free electric minibus in Boucherville that tours the city’s services. Long live the developing cycle network. You have to plan the area intelligently, and also remember, she says, that cyclists don’t drive 20 kilometers on the road, but two or three. The various modes of transport must therefore be well integrated.

Mme Junca-Adenot intends to take the Boucherville river shuttle. “I will take her to UQAM. »

It runs every 45 minutes and costs $5.50 each way.

Panorama of the Old Port included!

Learn more

  • 32%
    Number of trips to downtown Montreal on the Réseau de transport de Longueuil compared to April 2019

    SOURCE: Longueuil Transit Network

  • 60%
    Travel volume in Longueuil itself compared to April 2019

    Source: Longueuil transport network

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