Travelling during this holiday season in Montreal? Plan ahead

With the busiest travel season of the year upon us, Montrealers should take note of what may be wintry conditions while travelling. Here are some tips for travelling to, from and around Montreal in the coming days.

Freezing rain could hit Montreal right before Christmas Eve, Environment Canada warns

Montreal and some of the surrounding areas could be in store for freezing rain on Saturday this holiday weekend, according to Environment Canada. (Alexandre Letendre/CBC)

With the busiest travel season of the year upon us, Montrealers should take note that harsh conditions may hit while they're travelling.

Environment Canada meteorologist Jean-Philippe Bégin says Montreal will likely see a bit of snow on Friday and there's a growing chance of freezing rain on Saturday.

"For the southernmost regions, we're concerned about freezing rain, but regions starting with Quebec City toward Gaspésie, it's more of a snow event that we're looking for, and we're looking to about 10 to 20 centimetres of snow," he said.

While there is not likely to be a snowstorm in Montreal on Christmas Day, Bégin said he's not ruling it out completely since a storm is expected to develop along the American East Coast and could affect the easternmost points of Quebec.

If you're planning on travelling to, from or even around Montreal, there could be delays due to wintry conditions and the sheer number of Christmas commuters hitting the road.

Give yourself some extra time to get from one location to the next, whether that's getting around the city or to the airport.

Tips for travelling within Montreal

For those staying in the city for the holidays and using public transit, it's best to consult the STM's modified holiday schedule which can be found here.

As of last week, city buses can now also be tracked in real time, which means commuters don't have to wait outside in the cold weather.

If you're travelling within the greater Montreal area, there's a holiday gift from the Réseau de transport métropolitain (RTM). It's waiving its fares on Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1 for train, bus and adapted transit services across its network. You can find modified holiday schedules online here.

When it comes to driving, motorists should plan ahead and consult Quebec 511 for the latest information on weather conditions and road closures.
With the STM's new system, buses can now be tracked in real time. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Parking meters are also in effect during the holidays. With the snow, don't forget to check parking restrictions with the city's Info-Neige app to make sure you're not parked in area where snow-removal operations are underway.

With winter conditions in full effect, don't forget to clear snow and ice off your car as well. This includes the windshield, flashers and reflectors.  If you're driving around in a vehicle that looks like an igloo, a police officer can slap you with a fine ranging from $100 to $200.

It goes without saying: do not drink and drive.

For those who have had too much to drink and can't drive home, you can contact Nez Rouge in Montreal by calling 514-256-2510 or find your local branch here.

Heading to the airport? Here's what you need to know

The Trudeau International Airport in Montreal is expecting more traffic, with 50,000 to 60,000 passengers expected to depart or arrive on Thursday alone and more than one million over the holiday season.

While there is the possibility of snow, airport spokesperson Anne-Sophie Hamel said Trudeau airport is used to dealing with winter conditions.

"Our snow-clearing teams are active to ensure that when there is more difficult weather, these impacts are limited for passengers," she said.
If you're heading to the airport from the city, it's best to give yourself extra time if the road conditions are poor. (Charles Contant/CBC)

If you're leaving Montreal for the holidays, the airport recommends checking with your airline before heading to the airport to ensure your flight is leaving on time.

Whether you're driving or taking public transit, it's also best to plan ahead by checking road and traffic conditions before driving to the airport so you don't miss your flight.

For those travelling to another destination, don't forget that wrapped presents must go in checked bags. If you're flying with only a carry-on bag, gifts cannot be wrapped.

If you're picking up family for the holiday season, the airport recommends only arriving once passengers have landed in Montreal and to pick a precise location for pickup, as you're not allowed to wait near the arrivals area.

There's no need to drive around and around if you're early, however: you can park for free in the CellParc waiting lot for up to two hours, and there's a free shuttle every 15 minutes to take you to the terminal.

With files from The Canadian Press