You are currently viewing Are you returning to the office part-time?  An overview of your best options for getting to work in Montreal

Are you returning to the office part-time? An overview of your best options for getting to work in Montreal

Alexandra Muer is a student who works part-time, making public transit in Montreal a necessary but expensive way to get around town.

She said the train is particularly expensive, so she sticks to buying a bus and metro pass to save money.

She was delighted to learn last week that a single fare of $3.50 will soon be enough to use all modes of public transportation in the same area, such as the island of Montreal, be it the metro, the bus, the train or, soon, the Metropolitan Express Network (REM) light rail network.

“It’s going to make everything so much easier,” Muer said. “It’s going to be a lot more affordable, so a lot more people are going to be able to afford the luxury of taking the train and the REM.”

While people like Muer have continued to use public transport regularly, what about those whose workplaces have shifted to a hybrid model as the pandemic wanes? Many of these employees only come to the office a few days a week. The rest of the time they work from home.

A monthly pass only really makes sense when you’re hopping on the bus, train or metro at least three days a week, said Simon Charbonneau, spokesman for the Autorit√© de transport de la region de la region. Montreal, the ARTM.

But that doesn’t mean people who go to work twice a week have to rely on a car instead, he said. There are, for example, 10-ticket packages that people can buy with the new transit fare system starting in July.

Each ticket, which is discounted when purchased as a bundle, is good for a two-hour trip and can carry passengers from Laval to Longueuil and everywhere in between, he said. The price varies depending on where a user begins their journey.

Public transit is the best, according to the ARTM

For Charbonneau, public transit remains the best option, even for those who live on the outskirts and who go to the office two or three times a week.

The price is right, he said, but it also saves time as traffic congestion gets worse and worse. The traffic these days is more unpredictable, with no defined rush hour, he said.

Instead, traffic is randomly backing off, he said.

“With the traffic right now, normally it would be morning and afternoon; now it’s everywhere, all hours,” Charbonneau said.

Alexandra Muer uses public transit to get around Montreal all the time, which makes a monthly pass worth the cost. (Radio Canada)

A study found that in 2017 and 2018, drivers lost an average of 145 hours a year in traffic in Montreal, he said. In the years that followed, partly due to the pandemic, vehicle purchases skyrocketed. Light truck use increased 5.8% in 2020, while public transit ridership since COVID-19 hit has fallen about 15%, he said.

As transit agencies take a financial hit, he said, riders are finding there aren’t as many people on the bus or subway anymore, making travel more comfortable.

Meanwhile, other express bus lanes have been opened and the REM is expected to enter service this fall, providing more and faster options for transit riders, Charbonneau said.

How you move is a personal choice, according to CAA-Quebec

Nicolas Ryan, spokesperson for CAA-Quebec, said the choice between car, bike or public transit comes down to personal choice.

Driving a gas-powered vehicle is the most expensive but usually fastest form of transportation, he said. It allows, for example, a parent to drop a child off at daycare on the way to work, however, an accident halfway through could derail the whole day.

The cheapest option is cycling or walking, but it’s probably the longest, in terms of time, he said.

Taking the bus may allow a passenger to read the newspaper on the go, but someone worried about COVID-19 might not want to be so close to strangers, he said.

According to a recent study funded by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, more than half of downtown workers have confidence in the health measures of the public transit system, but 29% have absolutely no confidence.

Rising gas prices are forcing people to rethink their options, Ryan said. Electric vehicles can be a game-changer, but they’re not affordable for everyone.

“Working from home can definitely reduce the cost of travel,” he said. “Deciding to use active mobility a little more often will likely have the same result and give you healthier results.”

Ryan predicts that most people will alternate between all modes of transportation.

“CAA-Quebec does not believe there is only one right answer,” said Ryan. “They all have their pros and cons depending on that person’s situation that day.”

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