Big line ups for reduced bus fares for those under 25

The new City of Montreal administration has made it cheaper for full-time students to get to school. Since Jan. 1, full-time students under the age of 25 have been able to purchase monthly Montreal bus passes for $25 a month, a 50 per cent decrease from last year.
According to Mayor Gerald Tremblay, Montreal now boasts the lowest student rate nation-wide. Many students, though, are finding it difficult to take advantage of the new carte privilege program. To prove that they qualify for the reduced rate, students must present a photo-ID card. This is the same system as before, and most students have become accustomed to the usual line-ups at renewal time. Never before, though, have the line-ups been quite so long, or lasted over so many days.
A City of Montreal release said some 60,000 students can take advantage of this pass. All of them, it seems, are trying to take advantage of it as soon as possible, overwhelming both workers and students.
“I went to the back of the line, and a security guard there was actually laughing. I asked him how long the wait was, and he said 4 hours,” said Rachel Luftglass, a student at Concordia University who tried to secure a pass at I.D. Canada in Place Alexis Nihon on Monday morning.
“He said I could try the Pie IX metro station, but the wait was 2 hours. There was no way [I could wait], because I had class in two hours,” added Luftglass.
Alexis Nihon security guard Patrick Rivest, who was helping with crowd control Monday afternoon, agreed with her. “The wait has been two-and-a-half hours this afternoon,” said Rivest, adding that the wait was even longer that morning and the days before.
For some, though, the benefit of a $25 bus pass outweighs the long waits. Anne Letessier recently left her home in France to pursue her studies here in Montreal. Back in France she was paying approximately $42 a month for a bus pass.
“$25 is almost ridiculous a price,” said Letessier as she was being turned away from the line at Alexis Nihon. She had arrived at 4:50 p.m. only to be told that the wait was an hour-and-a-half, already longer than the time left before the store’s 6 o’clock closing time. She was not discouraged though, saying she would try again Tuesday.
The Montreal Transit Corporation (MTC), which took over for the Montreal Urban Community Transit Committee (MUCTC) on Jan. 1, has been trying to solve the long waits various ways.
As of Tuesday morning, and lasting until Friday, SPEC photographs at Berri-UQAM metro will also be issuing photo-ID cards. As well, until Jan. 13 students will be allowed to use their old photo-ID cards to purchase the $25 passes. After that date, though, students must present the new card in order to both purchase and use the reduced-rate pass. Penalties for not doing so will range from being turned away to fines of between $150 and $500.
As for when the line-ups will disappear, nobody’s sure. As of this Friday the only location where the ID cards will be available is I.D. Canada in Place Alexis Nihon. If the line-ups continue past Friday, it may take even longer than the Jan. 13 deadline for students to obtain the passes.
A representative of the MTC was unavailable for comment on what they would do in such a situation.

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