Public transport is a must

The proposed plan to stop metro service at 11 p.m. could have detrimental effects on citizens.

Almost every Montrealer can relate to the feeling of sprinting to catch the last metro of the night… only to watch those blue doors close and see it drive away at the very last moment, leaving you stranded. If the rumours are true, that situation will be even more common, as the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) may soon cease operation even earlier—at 11 p.m., to be exact. 

This past week, there has been talk of major reductions in public transportation. Beyond ending metro service early, inter-city bus routes may end at 9 p.m. and some routes could be halted entirely. If the plan is put into action, the cuts will have significant impacts on the city’s population, particularly workers. 

What is the reason for this proposition? This hypothetical plan was put forth in response to a large deficit of funding from the province. According to Quebec’s transport minister, Genviève Guilbault, the government is unable to absorb the transportation systems’ funding deficits—which could be a shortfall of $2.5 billion over the next five years. Their first offer was a 20% coverage of deficits, which was quickly rejected as not nearly enough. 

Laval’s Mayor Stéphane Boyer and Montreal’s Mayor Valerie Plante have both been vocal about how detrimental reducing transport would be. Boyer stated that reductions are “unthinkable,” as countless Laval workers rely on the metro, while Plante expressed the sentiment that Montreal needs a powerful public transport system in order to compete with other cities. 

Student responses to the possibility range in severity: for some, the issue would be a mild hindrance whereas others could be completely disadvantaged. Michael McDonald, a second-year engineering student at Concordia, expressed his disappointment at the possibility of ending his nights out early, and remarked that there will likely be more alcohol-related BIXI accidents. 

Beyond personal setbacks, the change could hinder workers who work night shifts, such as healthcare workers. “Most healthcare workers rely on public transportation, and if they don’t have access to it, they might just quit,” said Chloe Kim, a John Abbott College nursing student. “And there’s already a huge worker shortage crisis.” 

In addition, a lack of viable public transport would mean countless more cars on the road, which would cause a substantial increase in traffic jams and accidents. And of course, women and minority groups who feel uncomfortable on the streets at night could find themselves in unsafe situations without proper means to get somewhere secure. 

Public transportation is more than a convenience: it is a key facet of any area, and an essential element in countless lives. Though the reductions may not seem massive, they could have enormous repercussions.  

Overall, however, it seems like the public transport system is safe for now. A spokesperson for the STM called these plans “hypothetical scenarios,” and meetings are to be held between the Greater Montreal Mayors and Guilbault to discuss alternatives. Let’s hope they come to an agreement: you can only run so fast for that last metro. 


Street photography in Montreal

Wandering around the city to discover January in Montreal

A man smokes a cigar outside of Buanderie Albert, a laundromat service shop on Saint-Catherine St W., as he enjoys the sun and occasionally feeds some pigeons.

Geometry and symmetry at Angrignon metro station, located at the end of the green line in southwest Montreal. Its wide windows and red frames give it an enchanting atmosphere that makes you wander around it and utterly forget the purpose of your destination.

Between the Lionel-Groulx metro station and the Atwater Market, there is an alley that is always lit by a ceiling light. On the morning of Jan. 25, a young worker carries soft drinks in an unknown shop. 

A weighted cart clustered by items sits outside Tim Hortons on Notre Dame St. W. on the morning of Jan. 25.

Caroline Hout writes her name on my agenda as she tells me about her portaiture being shown at Berri-UQAM metro station by Parc Emily. Caroline wears bright clothes and makeup to brighten up the day for the people who notice her. She is known as “Caroline Unicorn” because of her unicorn headband. 

Musicians Tyne Caine and Charles Viguerie improvise a guitar-violin duet in the metro station at Place des Arts. Both came to Montreal for the music scene and the possibility to grow as musicians. Tyne is from Vancouver and Charles is from the USA.

A man follows the lights through a tunnel to Peel metro station.

An STM worker plays the ukulele at Verdun metro station, hiding from the sight of people passing by.

A peek inside Le Petit Dep on Saint-Paul St. W, Montreal.

A snowboarder slides down a stair railing in Parc la Fontaine the day after the opening of the Dillon Ojo track park in Montreal. He and his friends drove from Ontario for the opening of the second season of the Dillon Ojo Snowpark and spent the weekend snowboarding around the city.


Montreal’s long-delayed Blue Line metro extension moves forward

The Blue Line metro will have five added stops

For three decades, the City of Montreal has discussed the extension of the metro’s Blue Line.

Finally, Quebec’s Junior Transport Minister and Minister for Montreal Chantal Rouleau announced on March 18 that the long-awaited extension is finally set to be completed by 2029.

The extension will include five new metro stations. They will be located along Jean-Talon St. where it intersects with Boulevards Pie-IX, Viau, Lacordaire, and Langelier, as well as at Bélanger St., on either side of Highway 25, for the terminal station in Anjou.

Courtesy Société de transport de Montréal

This extension aims to facilitate and shorten commute times for residents, workers, and in particular, students. Rouleau explained that this project would allow economic and social development of the eastern neighbourhood.

“The project is optimized to give the opportunity of the whole new neighbourhood at the east of Highway 25 to have access to the metro,” explained Rouleau.

“It gives opportunities to students to go faster to universities. It gives opportunities to enterprises to have more employees coming in [public] transport without their cars,” Rouleau added.

Sarah Bruyère, a first-year interior design student at the Université de Montréal (UdeM), lives in Anjou and is one of the many students who will benefit from an added stop, which will shorten her commute to school.

“I feel like it’s about time, because my mom told me that even before I was born, she hoped there would be a metro going to Anjou by the time I was in university,” said Bruyère.

“It would be so much easier if the metro came to Galerie d’Anjou, because now I have to take two buses to get to Saint-Michel station, and it takes me one hour and 15 minutes to get to school,” Bruyère added.

Unlike UdeM students living in the east, some Concordia students residing in the same area won’t benefit from added stops on the Blue Line. Olivia Integlia, a first-year journalism and political science student, wished the metro extension would connect the blue line to the green line.

“When I heard that they were installing a metro line near the east-end, it was actually great news because the closest one is Cadillac or Viau metro. What kind of surprised me a little bit is that it’s the Blue Line,” explained Integlia.

“I think personally, if I’m thinking about my commute to Concordia, it won’t really affect me.”

The Blue Line metro extension is a step forward in developing the east-end further, as promised in the Déclaration pour revitaliser l’est de Montréal, which was signed in 2018. The declaration is an agreement between the city and the Quebec government to provide funding for land redevelopment by 2024 and to promote sustainable and integrated mobility.

The original cost was $4.5 billion. Rouleau announced that the new budget is between $5.8 and $6.4 due to many factors, one being expropriation (the government’s power to take private property for public use).

“It will be very easy for the residents to have this access. And it will be better for everybody,” said Rouleau.

Photo by Kelsey Litwin


Editorial: STM inspectors don’t need more power

You’ve all probably heard the running joke about STM inspectors being failed police officers. It’s hard not to believe this when we see some of them strolling around metro stations, holding their batons and glaring at innocent travellers intimidatingly. Even though this joke implies that STM inspectors hold powers similar to SPVM officers, it’s important to note they don’t. And we at The Concordian think they shouldn’t be given more power than they already have.

On April 3, the STM board of directors passed a resolution saying it wants STM inspectors to be special constables, according to CBC. This means they’d need more than their current 14-week training. They’d also be allowed to access data that is kept for police officers, and they would become accountable to the Bureau of Independent Investigations.

As of now, STM inspectors have the power to ask for identification, issue fines for not paying the metro fare and restrain those who break the law until police officers arrive, according to the same source. But, funnily enough, one of the powers they don’t have is the power to use brutal violence to subdue someone who’s allegedly broken the law. We’d think otherwise, though, by looking at some STM inspectors’ history of unnecessary violence against alleged law-breakers.

Just last month, a video circulated in which two STM inspectors aggressively attempted to detain a black man, 21-year-old Juliano Gray, who didn’t pay his metro fare. The video shows the inspectors on top of Gray at the Villa-Maria station. They swing their metal batons several times while Gray screams, “That hurts!” and “I stop!” in French. At one point, Gray’s head is near the oncoming train, and the officers still don’t let him get up. Gray eventually ran away from the inspectors and is now seeking justice with Montreal’s Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

Because of the violent incident, Gray said he sustained injuries that stopped him from continuing his job as a part-time dishwasher, and that he is suffering from post-traumatic stress, according to the same source. CRARR is calling for an independent external inquiry into the situation, and for officials to possibly press charges against the inspectors.

We at The Concordian are shocked and disturbed by the STM inspectors’ use of violence to detain Gray. Just because someone doesn’t pay a $3.25 metro fare, doesn’t mean they deserve to be brutally beaten. It was unnecessary, excessive and damaging. We believe the inspectors must be held accountable for their actions.

There is already a history of abuse of power when it comes to STM inspectors—this video just proves how dangerous it could be to grant STM inspectors more police-like powers.

The STM Chairman of the Board of Directors Philippe Schnobb has said the goal of giving inspectors more power is to provide a “better customer experience” according to CBC. While the board doesn’t want to arm the inspectors, giving them more power would let them intervene when people complain about bothersome passengers.

We at The Concordian don’t think STM inspectors need to be given more power to provide a “better customer experience”—the metro is not a shopping mall, nor are we there for the sake of the experience. We just want to know that we are safe, and that our metro rides won’t be hindered by unnecessarily dangerous situations.

If one takes a look at other cases where STM inspectors have abused their authority, it’s hard to support the idea of giving them more power. Instead, perhaps their 14-week training should be extended, and the idea of de-escalating dangerous situations should be promoted. We at The Concordian support the idea of STM inspectors using their voices before violence when it comes to dealing with problems.

Graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee




Metro meets pan paradise

Steel pannist brings the tropical drum to the limelight

From keyboard and accordion players to vocalists and dancers, Montreal’s metro stations feature a wide array of talented artists all year round. Montrealer Ukpöng Etang is looking to add a splash of diversity to the city’s music scene, both underground and above, with one thing—his steelpan.

When Etang first began playing Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument at Coronation Elementary School at the age of 9, it was far from a passion.

“A lot of my friends started playing pan before me,” said Etang, who also goes by the moniker Mr. Pöng. “I remember being in the third grade at our school’s spring concert with my mom. All of my friends were on stage in the band, and she asked me why I wasn’t in it as well. I didn’t know what to tell her.”

The following year, the half-Nigerian half-Jamaican Montrealer became the newest member of the school’s steelpan ensemble.

While Etang had taken piano lessons for two years—from age 7 to 9—the traditional music lessons were cut short as a result of his newfound love for steelpan. Etang was taught by a renowned pannist and music teacher: Trinidad and Tobago-born Salah Wilson.

Etang fills the streets with tropical vibes. Photo by Judie Siriphong @shotbyjuu

Etang’s talent, which was first nurtured through his piano lessons, quickly revealed itself as he sought out advanced, extracurricular lessons. This led him to Salah’s Steelpan Academy in Montreal, where he was able to hone his skills and passion for pan with countless hours spent practicing and participating in competitions. Regardless of Etang’s somewhat limited musical knowledge and prior pan training, it was his musical ear and drive to learn that allowed him to improve at the rate he did.

Etang had to step back from playing when school became more difficult, though he began busking in the metro in 2015, after getting his own pan. Busking was a way to earn some extra cash and do what he loved while studying commerce at John Molson School of Business. It was a success from the start.

“I remember my first metro gig was in Namur, close to where I grew up,” Etang said. “I played for 30 minutes, went home, and counted up $40 in change. It was dope.”

It didn’t turn out to be as easy as the first day made it seem, though. Etang went through ups and downs, learning the ropes of the busking world: which metro stations are better to play in than others and what time of day is optimal for business. Busking in the metro in Montreal is divided into two-hour slots, between 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Only select stations are available to play in, such as Jean-Talon, Place des Arts, and McGill, and it’s organized on a first-come first-served basis.

Etang later gained entry into the audition-mandatory Étoiles du métro program, which is responsible for the “recruitment, selection, integration and management of the chosen artists.”

On Feb. 19, 2018, Anthony V Tao, a singer-songwriter and new Montreal resident, came across Etang’s pan-playing in the bustling McGill metro station after a long day of work. He was so captivated by the unique, tropical sounds of the steelpan that he couldn’t help but stop to listen, even filming a video on his phone.

“His music is very uplifting, and I think people including myself respond to that,” Tao said. “The other thing is he just has a really nice energy about him. He’s very gracious and when people gave him money, he thanked them, and you could tell he was really making a connection with people.”

While Etang is extremely thankful for his experiences in metro, his horizons have continued to broaden over time. The last thing he wants is to be confined to any barriers or locations—especially underground.

As stated on his personal website, Etang has performed at 27 community events, 14 private/corporate events, and 10 weddings. He recently purchased a license to perform on the streets in the Old Port. This was one of his longtime goals as a public performer with a proclivity for outdoor performances. These venues are made special by their natural beauty, openness, and heavy flow of cheerful pedestrians in the summer, according to Etang.

The cover of Echoes Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Credit: Lionel Nguyen)

Since the release of his debut cover album Echoes Between a Rock and a Hard Place on March 30, 2018—a compilation of personally memorable tracks—the pannist has vowed to work on more original work while continuing to pioneer the slowly-but-surely growing steelpan movement in Montreal.

Etang visited Trinidad and Tobago for the first time in 2017, as a long-awaited graduation gift to himself. It allowed him to build an ever deeper connection to the instrument he had spent years learning about.

“When I went to Trinidad, I saw how important steelpan was to the musicians and to the culture, but I still feel like more could be done to support [the pannists], especially financially,” Etang said.

Etang’s dreams of expanding the steelpan culture and diversifying the music scene in the city are ever-growing.

See him live at the Rialto Theatre on May 7, at Raw Montreal’s Natural Born Artists showcase.


The musical moments in our daily lives

The world is filled with subtle sound cues that largely go unnoticed

My first time riding the Montreal metro was like a sci-fi experience due to the glowing fluorescent lights and the sheer amount of people.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, we didn’t have the infrastructure for public transportation—although the country is currently building a metro system in the capital city, Riyadh—so riding the metro was a very foreign concept to me. I was mostly entranced by the sounds the metro made—the simple three notes that played when the doors were about to close. So I decided to research that little chime.

That sound serves a dual purpose: to warn passengers to stay clear of the doors and to give a certain ambiance to the metro. This simple melody has a very interesting history. According to the magazine Spacing Montreal, the sound originated from a metro ad in the 70s called: “Il fait beau dans l’métro.” The ad opens with a heavily synthed version of the chime. The rest of the ad is a ridiculously charming musical about the metro, filmed at Atwater station.

This chime is unique to the type of metro train Montreal uses, the MR-73. According to Spacing Montreal, the chime was sampled from the engine noise the MR-73 makes. This specific train model has been around for a long time and, though it may sometimes feel and look antiquated, these trains helped create the charming sci-fi, three-note melody. Even the new train models, used on the orange line, use the same chime.

People hear this melody everyday, but most don’t give it a second thought. Repetitive sounds become part of our daily lives, almost fading into the background. Yet, these sounds always have an interesting backstory.

The 516th episode of the popular podcast This American Life featured an 81-year-old man named Dick, who has an obsession with on-hold music—music that plays when we’re waiting on the phone. It wasn’t just any on-hold music. It was a certain track he couldn’t name but always heard. So This American Life helped Dick track down the name of the tune and the story behind it. They eventually contacted the composers, Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel.

The friends collaborated on this track while in high school in 1989. The track is called “Opus No. 1,” and was recorded in Carleton’s garage. Years later, Deel started working for communication company Cisco, on their CallManager project—their enterprise phone line. He was given the opportunity to choose the default on-hold music for Cisco’s line of products. Eventually, this track became the default on-hold music for Cisco products all over the world.

Even though Dick had heard this track many times, and in the most annoying conditions—waiting on the phone for hours—he just loved this song. It would inspire him to spend hours looking for a song that was made in a teenager’s garage.

I have this vivid memory of watching a nature documentary on VHS as a child. I was alone in a dark room, watching a bunch of bugs on a leaf, when the music captured my imagination. It was some kind of ambient electronic music that had a particular educational-video sound. Every now and then, I look for that videotape in my parents’ house, just so I can re-experience the music that, in a lot of ways, shaped my musical taste.

Not even the most ardent music fans start their musical fascination with highly conceptual albums, but rather through very a memorable and simplistic melody they heard constantly. I remember thinking the pinnacle of music was the Grease soundtrack cassette my mother used to play before I went to bed. Eventually, my interests led me to listen to full albums and discover different artists, but my musical interests were initially sparked by a nature documentary and the Grease soundtrack.

We have an antiquated hierarchy of music. The world typically looks down on “primitive” music, like what’s used in commercials or the metro’s simple chime, and praises “high art” music, like John Coltrane’s intricate jazz albums. Yet, music comes, and is consumed, in many forms. It’s important to embrace all the different ways music affects us. Sometimes, the most inane and least artistic music sticks with us the longest.

Graphics by Zeze Le Lin


The line between incautious confidence and paranoia

One student’s experience with harassment, and the steps she takes to stay safe

I enter the metro car to find it practically deserted. Despite the empty seats, I decide to stand. I look around, but there isn’t much to see. A woman staring pensively out the window, a young guy shouldering the burden of a school bag and a man sitting with his legs spread apart. He is sitting behind me, so I’m able to observe his behaviour in the reflection of the glass. That familiar, feminine voice announces the name of the next metro station, and I notice the man shift in his seat.

Suddenly, I can feel his gaze on my back. I take a step towards the door, pretending that I’m getting off at the next station. The man jolts up out of his seat, like this has suddenly become his stop too. Of course, when the doors open and I do not exit the train, neither does he. Instead, he drops right back into his seat and waits.

A minute passes before we arrive at the next stop. Now, it really is my turn to get off. I squeeze through a sea of faces on the platform and join the others waiting for the green line. And I wonder about the whereabouts of the peculiar man from the metro car.

That’s when I spot him just a few feet away from me. I notice details about him: his long, grey coat, his sunglasses, his ghostly skin with red patches. I start to worry the man is following me, so I decide to walk away from the platform. He follows me. My instincts propel my feet into action. I dart to the orange line with steps as fast as my racing thoughts—what are my options, where is the exit, who can I call, am I exaggerating, what is he planning to do, what was he wearing?

That’s when I spot the man, stomping furiously back in the direction of the green line.

In a recent report, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) received a rating of A+++, earning the title of best transit system among major Canadian regions, according to CBC News. Factors considered in the grading included the number of passenger trips per service hour, passenger trip intensity and operating cost. Unfortunately, safety was not taken into consideration. Perhaps all the flashing lights, slick screens and sophisticated sounds of the new Azur metro cars distracted these examiners from spotting the new danger of one endless train—potential predators are no longer cars away. They’re steps away, always.

At least the old, separate metro cars inherently minimized your chances of encountering a predator, or at least gave you the possibility of switching cars if you were uncomfortable. I admit the old cars need upgrading. And while improvements are being made, there are still too many issues to warrant top marks.

The Montreal transit system doesn’t need praise. It needs police. In fact, a more effective police presence is the only advantage I see to having one long car. Now, a single officer can monitor the safety of a whole train, rather than just one section. But until I actually see police roaming the new trains with vigor, I won’t feel any safer taking the metro.

When I finally got to class that day, after I was followed in the metro, I was so relieved I could have burst into tears. However, the city’s streets haven’t always been a sanctuary of safety for me either. After some window shopping between classes, I walked into the EV building to sit down and eat my lunch. My appetite was quickly spoiled, however, when a man plopped himself beside me and said he’d spotted me out on the street. “I followed you in here so that I could say hello,” he explained, waving his hand in the air innocently, as if that would shed years off his wrinkly face.

Recently, the Crime Scene Index evaluated the level of safety in 15 Canadian cities. Being followed in broad daylight is just one of many reasons why I’m not surprised Montreal came in 13th in that ranking. All too often, women disregard experiences like these as mere instances of discomfort. They console themselves with the fact that he walked away, or that nothing really “bad” happened. They convince themselves that they’re making it into something that it’s not, or that they’re just being dramatic.

They see men gallivanting through the streets alone at midnight, jamming with headphones on in the metro, wearing whatever clothes they please, and many women think they too can live with these same freedoms, without worry. I used to think that way too, until I realized this was an arrogant approach to take toward my own safety.

Women cannot live in constant paranoia because that is self-destructive and unhealthy. Yet, they cannot live with their head in the clouds either. Paranoia and incautious confidence are two extremes, and our solution is found in between. Do not become shy and reserved in an effort to avoid low-lifes and losers, but don’t live in denial that there are creepers lurking.

For me, being less arrogant about safety has prompted me to make very specific changes. I look up from my phone every once in awhile to observe those around me. I keep my music at a slightly lower volume than before, so that I’m more aware of my surroundings. I tie a sweater around my waist when I’m riding the metro in an effort to thwart at least a few strangers from unnecessarily lusting over my body. I carry a rape whistle.

Some of these tips might make sense to you, while others might not appeal to you in the slightest. The good news is that these are just a few amongst a plethora of options women have when it comes to taking a more proactive approach to their safety. At the end of the day, only you will know what works for you—what changes or sacrifices you are willing to make in the name of safety.

But options aside, I do urge you to choose proactivity over arrogance, because half the victory lies in acknowledging there is a battle to fight in the first place.

Graphics by Zeze Le Lin


Is groping on the metro really “a big deal?”

Discussing the issue of safety regarding Montreal’s public transport system

There are thousands of people who use the Montreal metro system every single day. It’s a means of getting from home, to school, to work. But for some women, a metro ride can take an unpleasant turn when, suddenly, you feel you’re trapped in a room with no way out.

A conversation I overheard recently angered me. A man was discussing sexual harassment complaints while on the metro with his friend. He ignorantly asked: “Is it really such a big deal to be groped on the metro? It’s a damn compliment!” I cringed as he guffawed with his friend, and couldn’t help but think that this is why victims don’t always talk about their experiences. They’re afraid of being asked, “Is it really a big deal?”

Isha Sheikh, 20, was headed home from school one day during rush hour. Needless to say, the metro car was crowded.

“I sat down and saw an old man get on the metro. He sat across me on the other side — but suddenly, he was next to me on the empty seat. I noticed how he took up a lot of space. Suddenly, I felt something on my thigh, and I looked down to see his hand placed there,” Sheikh said.

“Initially, I was confused and tried to make sense out of what was happening. I told myself that this old man probably didn’t realize that his hand was on my thigh. But then his hand started creeping upwards, and his grip became tight. It was my first time in this kind of situation and I didn’t know what to do,” Sheikh said, furrowing her eyebrows and shrugging.

“So I decided to roughly move his hand off my thigh, but then he put his arm around me and smiled at me,” she said. “He smiled at me! His grip tightened, and I sat there debating what to do because I didn’t want to make a scene. So I got up to leave — but, as I left, he grabbed my bum. I went to the end of the car where one man who witnessed it all asked me if I was okay, and walked away once I nodded,” she said.

Less than one in ten individuals report incidents of sexual harassment and assault to the police, according to Statistics Canada. This shows survivors aren’t willing to come forward. One of the reasons for that is the stigma associated with this very serious issue. Questions arise: What was she wearing? Did she ‘lead’ him on?

It’s upsetting when the police don’t seem to be there when you need them the most.

It’s upsetting to not see a stronger police presence on our metro cars, and even more disturbing to see the STM security ticketing the innocent public instead of actually catching criminals.

You’d think that bystanders would reach out and try to acknowledge the situation, but most people just avoid eye contact and turn their heads.

It’s unfortunate that not everyone understands the severity and seriousness of sexual harassment, especially in a public place—you’re surrounded by people, but it’s rare that anyone tries to help. You’re just trying to get somewhere, and the last thing you want is an old man’s tight grip on your thigh and his creepy smile in your face. It’s upsetting and enraging and it certainly is a big deal.


Public transetiquette

As a person who is vertically challenged, I often find myself in the armpit of society. I mean this literally, not figuratively.

Due to global warming, traffic, economy, and a variety of other reasons, more and more people have been opting to get from point A to point B using Montreal’s public transit system, currently in its 151st year of existence. Although it has been around for a long time, the number of people riding trains and buses in Montreal is greater than ever, according to the Société du Transport de Montréal. Last year, the ridership hit 404.8 million, a 4.2 per cent increase from the year prior.

In the past few months we’ve seen a lot of media attention given to the city’s public transit workers and their customer relations – but what about our own civility? It seems almost every regular public transit user has a story about etiquette.

“One time when I was standing on the bus, there was a guy next to me who was also standing,” said Chana Myschkowski, a third-year therapeutic recreation student at Concordia University. “A lady was getting off the bus, and as she got off, she dropped something on the ground. As she bent down to pick it up, the guy grabbed her butt and then just got off the bus. It was really weird.”

Alexandra Huard Nicholls, who just began her first year of human relations studies at the university, was recently riding a crowded bus when a woman boarded with a stroller. Naturally, she presumed that there was a child inside. Instead, she had to do a double take. “It was a little dog in the stroller. She was blocking the whole aisle of the bus, and everyone was looking at her like, ‘Are you serious? You really bring your dog around in a stroller?’ It was ridiculous.”

Although these specific incidences are isolated events, other riders have shared feelings about the lack of etiquette on public transit.

Not long ago, CBC News posted the results of a poll listing the top 10 public transit etiquette rules where the number one rule was “When a parent with a small child, a pregnant woman, and elderly person, or someone with a physical disability is boarding, give up your seat!” Other notable behaviours that made the list include covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, minimizing conversational obscenities, and not sitting beside someone else if a free seat is available.

The STM has taken notice, too.

“We use public awareness campaigns to remind people that they have to be polite,” said Marianne Rouette, an STM spokesperson.  There are postings in the metro and on buses that remind people of things they can do to make transport a better experience for everyone, such as carrying a backpack in your hands, rather than on your back, which can be dangerous for other passengers, especially when metro cars and buses are full of people.

“We analyze the situation, and then we prioritize,” said Rouette. “We like to keep our awareness campaigns positive.”

This summer I was riding at the back of the 162 bus going down Monkland Avenue when an elderly woman with a walker boarded the bus. She walked halfway through the bus before a boy of no more than eight-years-old got up to offer her his seat. Maybe we should all learn from this kid and have a little bit more awareness when it comes to “public transetiquette.”

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

Exit mobile version