New harmonized transit fares announced for Montreal and off-island
Streamlined fare structure based on 4 zones, covering area home to half Quebec's population
The regional transit planning agency for the greater Montreal area, the ARTM, has unveiled a simpler fare structure, including the upcoming REM electric train, to try to make the system more user-friendly and persuade more commuters to ditch their cars in favour of transit.
The new system, based on four geographic zones, will include a single basic fare of $3.50 in a single zone, such as the island of Montreal, whether you're riding the metro, bus, train, or soon, the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM).
A standard monthly pass for all modes of transit on the island of Montreal, including adapted transit, will cost commuters $94 a month as of July 1. That pass will include REM trips on the island, but Montrealers wanting to pop over to Quartier Dix30 on the South Shore for a shopping trip will have to shell out $10 for the fare to get them there and back.
But while travelling between zones will cost extra, commuters who were already combining a bus and metro to get from Laval or Longueuil to Montreal, will find they're saving money, according to the ARTM.
The new all-mode passes will also represent savings for many train commuters who are used to buying a TRAM 1-3 pass that gave them access to commuter trains, bus and metro for between $104 and $147 per month.
New monthly passes for all modes of transport that carry commuters on and off island will range from $150 to $255 a month, depending on how far they need to go.
It's the latest phase in the ARTM's attempts to integrate the multiple byzantine fare structures on its territory, which stretches from St. Jérome to Richelieu and Saint-Lazare to Contrecoeur — an area home to about half the population of Quebec.
Last December, the transit authority approved its plan to simplify the fare structure into four zones, down from eight:
Zone A will cover the island of Montreal. A single one-zone ticket will cost $3.50 and monthly pass will cost $94.
Zone B will cover Laval and Longueuil. A single ticket for Zones A and B will cost $5.25 and a monthly pass will cost $150.
Zone C will cover northern and southern suburbs beyond Laval and Longueuil. A single ticket for Zones A, B and C will cost $6.50 and a monthly pass will cost $184.
Zone D will cover some municipalities outside of the ARTM's territory. A single ticket for Zones A,B,C and D will cost $9 and a monthly pass will cost $255
Teleworkers who live off-island and only need to commute to Montreal a couple of times a week, will also have the option to buy two-trip or 10-trip passes for multiple zones at a lower rate than individual tickets.
In all, the ARTM is dropping 332 types of fares and adding 29. It will also index fare costs to rise at 2 per cent.
Commuters will also have the option of buying monthly bus passes for $105, covering either Zones A, B and C or only the off-island buses in Zones B, C and D.
The ARTM will also introduce a special transitional monthly pass, for users of the Réseau de Transport de Longueuil (RTL) buses, to allow them to cross the Champlain Bridge using the REM, for the same $105 fee per month, as bus service on the bridge will be eliminated once the REM comes into operation.
That fare will be increased between now and 2025 and then phased out, to give users time to adapt to the $150 fare for an all-mode pass for Zones A & B.
But other fares, including STM only fares, TRAM 1-3 fares and TRAIN 1 and 2 fares will no longer be sold as of July 1, though any fares bought before that date will be honoured.
Commuters who are unsure of which passes they will need to start buying in July can consult the new fare structures and the zone maps to see where their municipality falls.
As well, the ARTM will be holding public information sessions on the new fare system on May 24 and 25.
Michel Lemay, executive director of public affairs, marketing and client experience for the ARTM, said the goal is to make the system more "user-friendly" and to perhaps persuade more motorists to switch to transit.
However, Lemay said the pandemic has presented a challenge to increasing ridership.
"People will continue to work from home and people are more and more shopping from home," he said. "So we expect a drop in ridership of 15 per cent on a permanent basis."
"We need to work harder at bringing back more people to the system."
Lemay said fares collected from riders generally cover about $1 billion of the $3.5 billion budget required to operate transit in the greater Montreal area.
With files from Josh Grant