Montreal public transit, police and city services limited in wake of COVID-19

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said everybody has to adjust their daily routines to fight the spread of COVID-19 — that includes using rear bus doors, keeping a safe distance from drivers and only accessing city services online or by phone.

Another confirmed COVID-19 patient took Montreal public transit last week

The STM is asking passengers on buses to climb on board by the back door and to keep a safe distance from drivers, staying behind the yellow line. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)
  • STM bus passengers are to enter and exit through rear door, leave seat behind driver free and stay behind yellow line to avoid contact with driver.
  • Since there is no fare collection system at the back of the bus, travel on bus lines will essentially be free, mayor says, but passengers are expected to have valid ticket.
  • Ticket purchases and recharging will be done through vending machines only.
  • Borough offices will be closed and residents will be asked to seek permits and information either online or by telephone.
  • City council will be a closed session next week. Councillors have the option to participate remotely. Public question period will be limited to electronically sent questions. 
  • All public consultations are cancelled for the near future.
  • City will offer assistance and facilities to food banks, also help with delivery.
  • Montreal public health says the likelihood that there is community transmission is "probable."

Everybody has to adjust their daily routines to fight the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Valérie Plante said Tuesday. That includes using rear bus doors, keeping a safe distance from drivers, and accessing city services either online or by phone.

"Public transit is an essential service at this time," said Plante at a news conference. "I would like to thank all STM employees for their dedication."

Although the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) said in a statement Tuesday that passengers are expected to have a valid fare when they get on the bus, rides are essentially free, the mayor acknowledged, because there is no way to collect fares from passengers from the back of the bus.

Plante said the health of drivers is more important than lost revenue.

Public transit remains safe as long as people continue to protect themselves by washing their hands, Plante said. It is an important service to allow health-care workers to get to their jobs, she said, and to allow people to feel mobile even if they don't own a car.

"For me, keeping the Metro and buses [running] is very important," she said. "I don't want people to feel like, if they don't have a car they cannot go anywhere — that they cannot go get their food or get their medication or go to an appointment or go to work."

Plante said she will not shut down public transit unless she gets an order to do so from a higher level of government.

COVID-19 patient took public transit last week

The mayor's announcement comes  after provincial health authorities confirmed a COVID-19 patient took Montreal public transit while infected last week.

The infected individual took the Metro's Green line and a bus in the LaSalle area on March 10.

    On March 10, passengers could have been exposed while travelling on the following lines:

    • Bus: The 106 bus from Newman Boulevard toward Angrignon Metro station, between 10:40 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.
    • Metro: between Angrignon and McGill stations, between 10:55 a.m. and 11:20 a.m.

    Those who may have been exposed on March 10 are asked to watch for symptoms until March 24.

    Previously, another case took public transit on Feb. 24 and March 6. That information is available on the Quebec government website.

    STM restricts ticket purchases to vending machines

    STM spokesperson Philippe Déry said posters will soon be affixed to buses to explain the following procedures:

    • Passengers will be expected to have a valid ticket in their possession.
    • The seat behind the driver will be left free at all times.
    • The STM's kiosk at the Montreal airport for the 747 bus line will be closed until further notice.
    At least one confirmed COVID-19 case transferred from the Yellow line to the Orange line on March 6. A second infected person used the Metro Green line on March 10. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

    In the Metro, the purchase and recharging of tickets will only be done through automatic vending machines.

    Station agents will be present to inform customers and guide them through these new measures.

    There are also changes to the STM's taxi-bus service. For the time being, only one person at a time is allowed on each taxi-bus. 

    "The faster we contain the virus, the faster we will return to normal life," Plante said, reminding people to respect government recommendations, self-isolate and wash their hands frequently.

    Accès Montréal offices close, SPVM limits service

    Plante said requests for construction and occupation permits can already be made online, but all the Accès Montréal offices — customer service counters for residents — will be closed until future notice.

    Those seeking permits and other services are asked to seek assistance online or call as the city's telephone service, 311, will become the main interface for all questions.

    The Montreal police service (SPVM) is temporarily closing all of its service counters at neighbourhood police stations, operational centres and other offices to the public, the SPVM announced Tuesday evening.

    Citizens wishing to contact the police can do so by dialling 911 in the event that immediate assistance is required.

    Otherwise, residents are encouraged to call their local station, file police reports online or contact their local station.

    with files from Radio-Canada

    Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

    A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

    Sign up now


    To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

    By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

    Become a CBC Member

    Join the conversation  Create account

    Already have an account?