Metro delayed more than 1,000 times last year

In 2012, Montreal's metro system was hit with 1,000 service delays, half of them caused by passengers themselves.

STM's worst record for service interruptions in six years

As Sean Henry reports, breakdowns and delays plagued Montreal's metro system in 2012. 2:30

In 2012, Montreal's metro system had more than 1,000 unplanned stoppages, making it the worst record for service delays in six years.

"At the beginning of the year we changed alot of our equipment," said the executive-director of the metro system, Dominique Lemay.  "When you change equipment sometimes you have a breakdown of new equipment also, and you have to fix that."

Other causes of service delays included technical problems like computer glitches.

Lemay said blasts from construction sites close to metro lines also caused issues.

He said they were forced to stop the service more than 60 times to allow for blasts related to the construction of Montreal's new French-language superhospital on René Lévesque Boulevard.

Passengers cause half the delays, report finds

However an internal report by the STM revealed that half of interruptions were caused by passengers.

One of last year's major interruptions was the result of several smoke bombs that sent the transit service into chaos at the peak of rush hour last May.

Other service delays are more mundane, such as passengers dropping items like Opus cards and cell phones on the track and asking metro staff to retrieve them, or — and yes, this really happens — pulling the emergency brake after missing their stop.

In an effort to improve the service record, the STM will no longer stop trains in order to retrieve dropped items.  From now on, passengers will have to wait up to 24 hours for an item to be recovered.

The STM has also assigned staff to talk to passengers on metro platforms, to educate riders on what they can do to prevent service disruptions, such as not holding the doors.

Lemay said boxes will also be put on the emergency brakes inside all trains.  

"We have tested boxes on the emergency brakes, to make sure people will only use [the brake] for safety reasons," he said.

Lemay said the STM will gradually begin replacing its aging fleet of metro cars in the fall of 2014.