Using public transit in winter
No doubt about it, nothing stays the same in winter! And because the cold season brings its share of unpredictability, we work twice as hard to make sure you get where you need to go.
In bad weather, our crews work hard to provide you with the best transit service possible, by putting your safety at the forefront. But because we must sometimes deal with difficult conditions, below is our list of tips for using transit in winter.
5 tips for getting around in winter
- Look up the status of transit service. If you have limited mobility or if you get around in a wheelchair, read our website's section on the accessibility of our transit system.
- Carefully plan your route. If you do not know which bus lines serve your neighbourhood, go to our trip planning tools and enter your address.
- Check the next bus arrival for your bus line: 5 ways of getting bus schedules.
- Allow for more time. Buses must also deal with snow, traffic jams, fender benders and slippery roads. Heavier ridership levels can also slow down the boarding process at bus stops and métro stations.
- Purchase your transit fare in advance at any one of our 300 points of sale. Not sure which fare card to buy? Find out about them all here.
We work hard so you can get there easily
Nothing new here: buses are subjected to the same difficulties on the road as motorists. Fender benders, blocked streets and slippery roads can disrupt their drive as well. Under these conditions, we make every effort to ensure service as planned, despite the bad weather.
During a storm, we choose regularity and safety. In other words, we spread out our buses to ensure they go by at regular intervals. Quite a challenge for the employees who man the operations centre, and who stay in constant touch with bus drivers and supervisors, to adjust bus routes if needed.
Once the storm is over, things look easier, but traffic disruptions are still out there. Snow banks, parked cars and tow trucks slow down traffic and make road travel rather difficult. We work closely with the City of Montréal to optimize snow removal operations and open up roadways, and making it easier to access our bus lines.
See how our crews work hard so you get there easily:
Did you know that, to get ready for winter, our buses use winter tires that were specially adapted by our employees? Starting November 15, our 1831 buses must have front tires with a minimum tread of 10/32 inch that have never been retread, along with traction rear tires. Here, the latter are made from slightly worn new tires, to which our experts add grooves to increase their traction capacity and provide tires with good grip on snow.
And that is not the only expertise in that workshop! In the tire retreading shop, a new tread can be glued onto an older tire carcass still in good condition, through a process called vulcanization, or curing. The result is a virtually new tire with good grip. Not only does it save money, it's also environmentally-friendly. After inspecting the 11,500 tires on our buses, more than 1600 of them were prepared and repaired by shop workers this fall.
STM needs more than its roughly 80 trains and 1700 buses to adequately provide service. To get ready for winter, our infrastructure maintenance crews have ten 10-wheel trucks, one excavating machine, six Bobcat tractors for small areas, and eight payloaders, six of them leased for the winter season.
When snow starts piling up, our maintenance employees get going, deploying man and machinery in an operational choreography! The team gives priority to snow removal at the nine bus garages, so that all buses can get out. Afterwards, snow is cleared from métro station to make them easily accessible, followed by bus loops around stations and at bus terminuses.
We can easily imagine the work done by bus drivers and supervisors during a snowstorm, but have you ever heard of customer information advisers?
They do not remove snow from bus garages, do not drive buses and do not answer calls from them either. But while the operations team is busy handling unpredicable events on the road and coordinating service at the four corners of the city, these advisors can concentrate their efforts on another important aspect of service: customer information.
Do like more than 200,000 subscribers already do: follow them on Twitter! They are on hand seven days a week, manning the @stminfo account to keep you informed of the status of transit service during events or major disruptions, as well as the métro's Twitter feeds to again keep you informed of métro service interruptions lasting 10 minutes or more: @stm_orange @stm_verte @stm_jaune @stm_bleue.
You're not on Twitter? When planning your transit rides, check out our other information tools at www.stm.info/outils.
These service trucks are equipped with tools and supplies needed to perform repairs on the road instead of getting them back to the garage. They can handle a number of quick interventions: repairing flat tires, mirrors, windshield wipers, various fluids, bus horns, and more. As a result, transit users and drivers are not always required to change buses mid-way when a minor issue can be resolved by these mechanics on wheels!
Based at the Legendre bus garage, our two tow trucks answer about 5000 service calls each year. A normal work day consists of a dozen or so emergency towings along with a few trips for minor maintenance issues.
But during major snowstorms, the towing service operates non-stop, as up to a dozen buses can be seen stranded in the snow all at once. Under those circumstances, we must prioritize our actions and, if needed, call upon the services of a private company with who we signed an earlier agreement.
Thanks to the devotion of our heavy vehicle mechanics and a well-organized logistics department, each truck can tow more than 40 buses in a single snowstorm day. With over 1400 buses on the road during rush hour, the work of tow trucks is essential to our operations, especially when the snow is piling up!