Société de Transport de Montréal Backgrounder


In a city as densely populated as Montreal, people need to know how to get around. Montreal's solution is The Société de Transport de Montréal (STM for short) which provides public transportation all across the island. For anyone new to the city, or unaware of the services that are available, there are many reasons proving how public transportation is an efficient, cost effective and environmentally-friendly way to travel. 


Like much of Montreal, the STM has a historic past. Today it is the fourteenth largest employer in Quebec employing 7400 people. It first appeared as the Montreal City Passenger Railway Company in 1861, possessing 6 miles of railway, one stable, one shed, 8 vehicles and 14 horses. The first stretch of track ran on Notre-Dame between Du Havre and McGill. Between 1892 and 1894, electric street cars took over and put an end to horse-drawn ones. In 1919, the first buses appeared and were seen as the future of urban transit. 

The first modern street trolley in Canada appeared in 1937, but was fairly short lived and replaced by the metro in 1966. Since then, the metro has become the flagship vehicle of the STM's fleet. The STM has had countless name changes over its nearly 150 years in operation, the last one being in 2002 when all the municipalities on the island were merged. The Société de transport de la Communauté Urbaine de Montréal, then became the STM that we know today.


Novabus.gifIn 2010, the STM provided over 1.3 million trips per day and has nearly 1600 busses running on 192 bus routes, which includes about 8500 stops. Buses account for 2% of the air pollution in Montreal, while cars account for 50%. When we take into consideration the number of people buses can transport, they pollute 18 times less than cars. The current model used by the STM, called the Novabus, made its appearance in the 1990s and features improved access for senior citizens and wheelchair users. There are also some of 1980s Classic models still on the road.


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Montreal Metro is Canada's largest metro service, named so after the French term for "Subway" or "chemin the fer métropolitain", the word "metro" for short has become the name used by both French and English speaking Montrealers. 

The metro serves an average of 1,050,800 people per day. As of 2006, the metro has transported over 6 billion passengers. The system is divided into 4 lines, covering a total of 66 kilometres and 65 stations. It runs completely underground, due, in part, to Montreal's harsh winters. It also lets the metro hold the title of the first subway system ever, to run completely on rubber tires, which wouldn't be practical if it were outdoors. The metro's design was inspired by the Paris metro system and both are characterized by stations which have unique architecture and artistic elements. 


The STM is continually planning for the future. The city is looking to go completely electric by replacing its entire fleet of diesel buses by 2025 and if accomplished, Montreal will be the first North American city to do so. The STM says that starting in 2012, every bus that it purchases will be either electric or hybrid, a good first step towards their ambitious goal. 

The metro system is also rapidly expanding having extended into Laval in 2007. Plans are now in the works to lengthen the blue line into the east end, and loop the orange line connecting the Cote Vertu and Montmorency stations. Big plans have been made to replace the metro's aging cars, which have been in operations since 1976. The new cars, which are scheduled to appear in 2012, will feature more seating, a comfier ride, high definition TV screens showing streaming news feeds and improved wheelchair access as seen in the video below:


Montrealers have been shown to use public transportation for about 13% of travel in the city. A high percentage compared to the average of 3% throughout major cities across the United States. This directly translates to more money in the pockets of Montreal families who use public transit - Montreal households spend roughly 26% less on transportation than households in areas outside of Montreal. When all this is taken into account, it's no wonder the American Public Transportation Association named the STM as one of the best public transportation systems in North America.

Article by Robert Flis

Leave a comment

Visit our community forum!


OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Creative Commons License
This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.