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What exactly am I paying for?

by Robin Della Corte November 6, 2012
What exactly am I paying for?

Photo via Flickr

It’s our favourite time of year. The leaves are changing colours, midterms have just ended and winter break is in view. Last but not least, it’s time for the increase of public transit prices for Montreal commuters.

The Société de transport de Montréal recently announced the increase of monthly fees from $75.50 to $77.75. From this perspective, a $2.25 increase isn’t a big deal, but when you consider that this is its 12th time in the past decade that they’ve raised prices, it’s something to question.

Although the prices for regular separate tickets will remain the same, all the other options (which include monthly passes, week-long passes, etc.) will increase. Here is my concern: why should Montreal commuters pay more if we’re essentially getting the same poor service?

Marvin Rotrand, vice-chair of the STM, told CTV that riders can expect more service on some bus routes, hybrid buses, more bus lanes and “more priority signals where buses go through busy intersections.” Rotrand also said that we should expect more “real-time information” that passengers can access on their smartphones and an increase in capacity from 405 million in 2011 to 540 million in 2020.

The thing is, the STM has been promising things with every increase. Has the majority of that happened yet? No. The STM promised that there would be more buses and especially, buses on time, yet I end up waiting for a bus that never shows up or is 15 minutes late. I do understand that certain changes take time, but after a decade, you shouldn’t make promises if you can’t follow through.

Another good example is the Agence métropolitaine de transport, which I’m particularly familiar with. The Deux-Montagnes train line I take to school is the busiest train line of all. That train holds 900 seats, but according to AMT, during rush hour there are usually more than 1,800 people on board.

Every other train line has double-decker trains, and these lines aren’t even close to being as busy as the Deux-Montagnes line. It’s been years that the AMT has promised double-decker trains on this line, and none have arrived.

Customer service spokesperson of the AMT, Marianne Racine-Laberge, confirmed that the Deux-Montagnes line is the only one without double-decker trains. Laberge said that it’s because Deux-Montagnes is the only self-propelled electric train whereas the newly purchased double-decker trains can only be used with the new dual-mode (diesel/electric) locomotives.

So, why did they purchase new trains, knowing that the Deux-Montagnes train line wouldn’t be able to use them?
Similar to the STM, the AMT continually increases its fees. When I first started taking the train, my monthly pass was $77, now, less than 10 years later, I pay $118 monthly for the same exact service.

I’m pretty sure the service I get from the AMT doesn’t deserve $118. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times my train was late or never showed up, and I always stand because there’s never room.

If the STM and the AMT can start living up to their promises, I won’t have a problem with paying my fair share. If problems continue to be neglected and I’m still wondering if my train, metro or bus will ever show up, you better believe I’ll continue to complain.

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