The other night, I went to take the 201 in the Pointe-Claire village north to Fairview. I found out later this bus is referred to as the “Two-Oh-Once-In-Awhile” by its users. The nickname proved to be accurate: it was precisely 12 minutes late that night. I have taken it before, it is always late and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. On top of being unreliable, the service is infrequent: it comes a total of 32 times in the nearly 18 hours it runs, every 30-40 minutes depending on the time of day.
I asked the bus driver “Pourquoi cet autobus est-il toujours en retard?” His response was that it is always late and has been for the past 8 years. He said people don’t complain enough and that the STM (Société de transport de Montréal) does nothing to improve the service. He said it is especially bad in the winter when people have to wait for up to 45 minutes – in the cold. This is a bus that winds around the West Island, taking 2-3 times longer than driving to your destination. Thus, on
top of being unreliable and infrequent, it is inconvenient.
This is problematic for (at least) two reasons:
1) If we are going to get people out of their cars and onto transit (to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions), we need to make transit convenient. This means the service needs to rival driving and must be reliable, fast and frequent.
2) There are people, even in the suburbs, who cannot drive. Whether they are too young to have a license, to0 poor to own a car, too old to drive safely – or simply chose not to drive – these people have every right to get around the city as those who own motor vehicles.
We need to build cities (and suburbs) for people – not only for people with cars.