What will Montreal public transit look like post-quarantine?

If you’ve ridden the Metro during rush hour lately, odds are you’ve noticed just how quiet it is.

That’s going to change.

Premier François Legault talks about gradually reopening the economy and hints at kids going back to school before June, but returning to “normal life” won’t happen in a flash.

The easing of restrictions will come hand in hand with new recommendations, including on how to take public transportation.

“People who will be on transportation will have to use a mask,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s public health director.

“It isn’t obligatory, but it is a strong recommendation.”

Staggering commute times

Philippe Schnobb, the chair of Montreal’s transit authority, the STM, says ridership on both buses and the Metro went down more than 90 per cent at one point during the pandemic.

Physical distancing wasn’t even an issue with so few people around, but as more commuters return to public transit, it will become impossible.

“We calculated, and if there were a maximum of 15 people per bus, we’d need 8,000 more buses to maintain regular service,” said Schnobb.

So Schnobb says the STM is hoping to work with businesses to stagger work hours.

“We need to see if it’s a possibility to prolong our peak hours,” he said.

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