STM presents its 2020 Annual Report a year filled with challenges

Press release

Following the adoption of the document by the Board of Directors, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is marking the end of a truly extraordinary year with the publication of its 2020 Annual Report. The Report details three major crises: the out-of-service bus issue, the COVID-19 pandemic and the October cyber attack on the company.

“2020 was a truly extraordinary year, and not only because of the enormous challenges our teams faced in responding to the effects of the global pandemic. Throughout 2020, all of our teams had to resolve a number of other problems unrelated to COVID-19, while continuing to work toward our annual company objectives and surpassing the financial targets set by the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain. For all their incredible hard work, agility and versatility, we sincerely thank our employees!” said Luc Tremblay, Chief Executive Officer of the STM.

Providing services during the pandemic
In January 2020, the STM began directly addressing the issue of out-of-service buses by implementing exceptional measures to optimize the number of buses available and, consequently, ensure an adequate service offering for customers. The rate of out-of-service buses continued to improve, dropping from 33% to an overall 19.2% for the year.

Despite the circumstances, the bus service delivery rate reached a record 99.6%. Meanwhile, thanks in large part to the reliability of métro equipment and rolling stock and a reduction of incidents involving sick or injured customers, the STM achieved a rate of only 9.2 incidents of five minutes or more per million kilometres—the best seen in a decade.

Projects moving us forward
Additionally, the STM implemented a strategy to add 300 new hybrid and electric buses to its fleet with the goal of improving customer experience. Several phases of the five-point strategy have now been completed:

  • In 2019, the STM finished converting an industrial building that had been leased by the STM for five years to house 50 buses.
  • Also in 2019, the St-Denis bus garage roof was refurbished to extend its useful life, and the garage was reopened in January 2020.
  • Work continued on the expansion of three existing bus garages—Anjou, Legendre and St-Laurent—to house a total of 160 new buses. In 2020, the project reached a new milestone with the completed expansion of the Legendre bus garage, now able to house 56 of the new buses. Work on Anjou and St-Laurent will be finished in spring 2021.
  • The construction of the Bellechasse bus garage, which began in 2019, will continue until 2023. In 2020, excavation work was completed on the vast area that comprises the future bus garage.
  • Important progress was made on the project to build a bus garage, planned for commissioning in 2025, in the east end of Montréal. A new step was taken in 2020 with the finalization of the selected group of designs.

COVID-19 pandemic
In accordance with public health guidelines, the STM implemented several health measures in late February that required hard work from employees and an adjustment for customers. These measures included:

  • Increasing the cleaning frequency for buses, métro cars and stations
  • Rolling out telework for corporate departments and project teams
  • Changing the customer flow on buses: using the front door for boarding and the back door for exiting, except for customers using wheelchairs, and keeping the seat behind the driver empty at all times
  • Installing a total of 395 hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the métro network
  • Reassigning administrative and professional employees to help clean facilities and equipment
  • Providing buses to be used as mobile testing clinics
  • Having maintenance employees install over 2,000 Lexan protective screens for bus drivers, in record time
  • Distributing 1.5 million face coverings to customers and ensuring easy access to face coverings within networks
  • Installing new signage in some métro stations to minimize instances of customers passing one another
  • Providing occupancy levels for buses and Orange line AZUR trains
  • Rolling out debit/credit terminals in all métro stations to provide customers with a safe and contactless way to pay at fare booths

Cyber attack
On October 19, 2020, the STM was the target of a cyber attack that employed a highly sophisticated, heavily automated variant of the RansomExx computer virus. Within four hours of the attack, the internal IT team was able to identify and isolate the affected systems and, within two weeks, have them back up and running. Meanwhile, neither bus nor métro services were affected by the attack.

The year 2020 saw 171.7 million trips taken within the regular STM network, a 54.2% decrease from 2019. As of March, the pandemic had a major impact on transit user travel habits. Still, the company started 2020 out strong, registering a 5% ridership increase in the first two months of the year. In April 2020, ridership hit its lowest point of the year at only 14% of the level recorded for the same period the previous year.

The pandemic also affected paratransit ridership, with 2 million trips taken on the STM’s Transport adapté compared to 4.4 million in 2019. This tumultuous year nonetheless marked an important milestone in the history of Transport adapté as it celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Customer experience

The customer approval rate rose from 65% to 70% in 2020, an encouraging result given the circumstances of the past year. There was also a 53% decrease in total complaints compared to 2019, most likely due to the significant drop in ridership caused by the pandemic.

Read the full 2020 Annual Report here (in French only):