Afew weeks ago I addressed some questions regarding public transportation, especially in the western part of the city, where shortcomings were evident (cancellation of scheduled buses, long waits at stops, metro stations in bad shape). To be fair some problems af-

Sergio Martinez

Special

fecting the Guy-Concordia station are being fixed. However frequent cancellations for bus 144 Avenue des Pins, still frustrate passengers. Buses on this line don't run very frequently despite the fact that it is a line serving three main hospitals (General, Royal Vic and Hôtel- Dieu), the upper section of McGill campus and several schools. Frequent delays in the express line 435 Avenue du Parc-Côte des Neiges is another problem affecting people on both extremes of that line. The Société de Transports du Montréal (STM) decided to combine popular routes 80 (Avenue du Parc) and 165 (Côte des Neiges) when running them as an express line during rush hour. The problem is that when works are done on one of the main arteries on which this bus runs-Côte des Neiges last year,ParkAvenue in 2012) the frequency of the entire line suffers. The design of this express route in a U-form is not very rational since it would be impractical for people in either of the main roads connected by the line to take this bus to go to the other side, the metro or buses running in

Small battery-powered buses like those found in Rome will run in the Old Port area. See more photos on our website: www.westendtimes.ca

The bus stops here

the east-west direction would certainly be faster for anyone going from Park to Côte des Neiges. Public transit is of course an issue going beyond specific shortcomings in any area of the city. I am sure readers in any sector of the island of Montreal would have their own horror stories about delayed or cancelled buses, rude drivers or ticket attendants.The question is how the STM approaches these problems with a wider vision. Is the STM ready or at least preparing itself to provide a good service? Would a good public transportation make people leave the car at home at least during the week? Would a more efficient public transportation system reduce air pollution? I recently got in touch with Isabelle A.Tremblay, Conseillère corporative with the Direction principale des affaires publiques at the STM to whom I addressed some questions regarding the future plans of the transit corporation, especially the purchase of less polluting and more efficient buses. She referred me to the most recent strategic plan developed by the STM. In July the STM board of directors approved the pur- chase of 509 hybrid biodiesel-electric buses costing 471.3 million. The purchase of hybrid buses would allow a 30 percent reduction in fuel as well as a reduction in carbon emissions. However the ideal goal would be a 100 percent emission reduction which can only be achieved by the use of electric-powered vehicles. The STM plans to have few smaller electric buses in service by the end of 2013 in the Old Port area. These buses using electric batteries may be effective for short distances (Rome has a small fleet of this type of vehicles) especially in congested

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streets, but cannot run very fast.The best solution, if the goal is to get rid of diesel buses, is to actually go back to two vehicles that those in charge at the time quite unwisely discarded: tramways and trolleybuses. The technology on which these two kinds of vehicles based is making a comeback in many cities and-if the STM's strategic plan is concretized-we may find it back here as well. "In regard to the trolleybus"-says the STM Strategic Plan-"an electric bus connected to aerial wires, it is a high-quality vehicle that may offer a high-frequency service on reserved lanes in big urban axis. It may also be classified as an intermediary type of vehicle."Trolleybuses used to run here but the network was dismantled in 1966. Similar fate had another electric system that may make a comeback, the tramway. The previous Liberal government had refused to contribute for the installation of such costly although highly efficient system requiring not only aerial wires but also rails, the PQ on the other hand had promised to help fund the project. Of course, whether that promise is kept or not remains to be seen. For now,we continue waiting for a reasonably good bus and metro service,and hopefully for an efficient fully electrified system for the Montreal area. Ah, and even for some courteous bus drivers and metro attendants. Or is it too much to ask?

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