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Montreal Public Transit – REM to Trolleys to Hybrid and articulated buses


Montreal Public Transit – Buses were first introduced in Montreal in 1919 by the MTC (Montreal Tramways Company), with two white trucks converted into buses at the company’s Youville repair shops. They were on the roads by November 22nd and in 1921, two more trucks were also converted and went into service, shuttling commuters between Berri St. and Île Sainte-Hélène.

Yellow Coach Bus - (1925) STM
Yellow Coach Bus – (1925) STM

– NEW ROUTES AND B– USES 1925: As the system proved to be more and more successful, the MTC contracted an American supplier to build more buses. They created a new bus division in August 1925 with three routes: Lachine-Montreal-West, Lachine-LaSalle and Sherbrooke St.. Additional routes were soon created on Saint-Hubert St., in Outremont, in Verdun and between the Bordeaux and Cartierville. The MTC opened its first bus garage in Saint-Henri number as the number buses increased from 24 to 55.

Montreal Public Transit –  A growing network 1931

With service to Longueuil and Île Sainte-Hélène via the new Havre Bridge (Jacques-Cartier Bridge) the MTC bus division grew 155 buses with over 20 million passengers using the system yearly. By 1936, the buses began to replace the tramway on some routes.

Workers on Trolleybus wires (1966) STM
Workers on Trolleybus wires (1966) STM

– Montreal Public Transit Trolleybuses 1937: Seven trolleybuses, electrically powered, were put into service on Beaubien St. in Montreal on March 29, 1937. It was the first modern trolleybus service in Canada and ten years later the MTC acquired 40 more. They rolled along Beaubien St. and starting in 1949, on Amherst St. and Christophe-Colomb Avenue. They deployed another 40 trolleybuses in 1949 on Bélanger St. and by 1952, the number of trolleybuses increased from 80 to 105 – but then remained unchanged until the system ended in 1966.

Electric Trolley Bus (1943) STM
Car Brill Bus - (1952) STM
Car Brill Bus – (1952) STM

– End of the tramway 1951: With public transit now under municipal control, the tramway system faced significant competition and by 1951 they were basically replaced by buses – with the last tramcar officially being retired on August 30 1959 – and buses now ruled the roads. The new Montreal Transportation Commission (MTC) had acquired 1,300 buses, including a thousand of the Canadian ‘Car-Brill’ model. The first express bus service was launched on Saint-Denis St. in 1955, with the ‘New Look’ bus (nicknamed the ‘Fishbowl’ for its six-piece rounded windshield) from General Motors, put into service in 1959.

Metrobus Stop (1974 ) STM

– Metrobus, and first women driver 1970’s: In 1970, the Montreal Transportation Commission had become the Commission de transport de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal (CTCUM). The first Métrobus service was launched on Newman Boulevard in LaSalle in 1974 and exact-fare payment was implemented aboard buses, which were now painted white and blue. Then in 1977, Francine Maltais became the first woman to drive a CTCUM bus and a new era began.

Interior GM Classic Bus (1984) STM

– West Island service and STCUM 1980: In 1980, the CTCUM was given the mandate to service 61 urban municipalities, which had started with regular service in Montreal’s West Island. A new model, the ‘Classic’ bus, was put into service in 1983. By 1985 the STCUM had become the Société de transport de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal (STCUM) and in 1988 the first night-time bus network was launched.

Universal Accessibilty (1999) STM

– Reserved bus lanes and universal accessibility 1990’s: In 1990, the first reserved lanes for buses were open on Pie-IX Boulevard, followed by other reserved lanes on Parc Avenue, René-Lévesque Boulevard West and Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges. In 1996, a major milestone towards Universal Accessibility was reached when the the first low-floor bus (LFB) was introduced, followed in 1998 by the first three wheelchair-accessible routes.

Hythane Bus (1996) STM

– BIODIESEL, ARTICULATED B– USES and OPUS 2000’s: By 2002, the STCUM had become the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). That year, they introduced a new system for fares using smart-card technology. By 2005, fare boxes were replaced – with the OPUS smart cardbeing introduced in 2008. That same year the first biodiesel-electric hybrid-drive buses were put into service. Then in 2009, the first articulated buses were introduced, followed by several new routes, including the Downtown/Montreal-Trudeau Airport 747 Express. *Check back next week for PART THREE: Montreal’s Metro System to REM and the Future!

By: Bonnie Wurst – info@mtltimes.ca

Other articles:

REM a significant moment in Montreal’s transit

REM dealing with harsh Montreal winter

REM construction launching gantries – a first in Quebec

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