The Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (Montreal metropolitan community) includes 82 municipalities and had a population of nearly 4 million in 2016. More than half of the population of the Montreal metropolitan area lives off the island of Montreal (Laval, Longueuil, North and South Shores). The region is projected to grow by 4.6 million by 2036, an increase of 16%, and half of this growth is expected to occur outside Montreal. Population growth will therefore increase the demand for public transit in the region.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the 3 transit authorities—exo, Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) and Société de transport de Laval (STL)—which operate in Montreal’s northern and southern suburbs, have seen a significant decline in ridership. In 2020, public transit ridership in the region averaged about 40% of that in 2019.
Since the pandemic, several factors have influenced users’ choice to opt for public transit:
- Telework has become the new norm and is gaining popularity, with an estimated 20% to 30% of workers in the region continuing to work part-time over the next few years (source: CMM)
- Fear of contracting COVID-19: 43% of Quebecers still fear contracting the virus (weekly Léger study – Base: 1,515 Canadians, including 409 Quebecers, surveyed August 13–15, 2021)
- The use of solo cars is gaining market share because users see them as more flexible and safer
In parallel to this health crisis, the climate crisis persists and carriers agree that, more than ever, public transit is the cornerstone of sustainable urban development. Travel needs, traffic jams and climate change will still be with us once the pandemic is over.
Given the situation, the 3 transit authorities are convinced that developing efficient public transit services and innovative solutions adapted to the needs of users is essential to ensure the recovery of public transit.
Key transportation stimulus initiatives underway by the 3 associations:
The pandemic has led to a significant drop in public transit ridership in Montreal’s suburbs and North and South Shores, as in the rest of the world. This has forced transit companies to adapt their service offering to this new reality. For several months and following the progress of the vaccination campaign, transit authorities have implemented several initiatives to boost public transit use. More details of each initiative by association are available in the “Statistics, articles and available data” section of this challenge.