Going through customs is no longer the most difficult ordeal at Montreal-Trudeau airport: leaving the place has also become a challenge. The strong return of travelers overloads the 747 bus line, with queues becoming longer and longer. Aware of the problem, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) promises to find solutions.
“It’s ridiculous that there isn’t even a machine to make change. Nor that we cannot buy tickets on the internet,” recently denounced user Marie-Julie Gagnon, in a tweet which was quickly relayed by several others.
On social networks, photos showing long queues to take line 747 have been published in recent weeks. Several users notably denounced the lack of terminals or spaces to obtain a ticket, but also the fact that without a ticket, you have to pay the sum of $11 in “exact change”. In other words, bank notes are not accepted, which makes access even more complicated.
At the airport, there are currently “four ticket vending machines in the international arrivals area,” we read on the STM website. These terminals accept payment in cash, but also by debit card or credit card.
The STM immediately recognizes that a problem exists. A “working group” was set up this week to “dissect the customer journey at the airport and put in place additional measures to ensure fluidity” and “improve the experience”, explains the spokesperson for the company, Amélie Régis. “We will propose that an airport customer experience employee be part of the group,” she says.
Among the “examples of what could be done in the short or medium term”, the spokesperson mentions in particular “the addition of ticket vending machines, the addition of a mobile point of sale terminal” or even the “sale of titles under concession”. That said, the working group “will undoubtedly have other ideas and will determine priority actions”, nuance Mme Regis.
By way of justification, the STM also states that the Montreal airport “noted a considerable increase in its ridership which would be 30% more than before the pandemic, which also had an effect on the ridership of the line 747”.
The increase is, however, much less marked for bus ridership than general crowds to the airport. If we compare the months of May, June and July 2019 to those of 2023, ridership on line 747 has in fact seen an average increase of only 4%.
And with the busy summer travel period coming to an end soon, the carrier expects 747 ridership to start to decline again in the coming weeks, which could help ease queues.
A “pressing need”
At Trajectoire Québec, an organization that defends the rights of public transport users, general director Sarah V. Doyon believes that the situation “demonstrates the extent to which there is a pressing need for a structuring and simple transport system linking the airport downtown “.
“We can’t wait to see the REM arrive,” she assures. That said, the segment connecting the airport to the city center is currently planned for 2027, at least according to the latest news.
Mme Doyon maintains that this file “also shows the importance of facilitating the purchase of securities in general”.
If we already had a system that allowed you to buy tickets on your phone, that would solve the problem quite a bit. This is yet another example illustrating the need to modernize the system. There are several things in progress and that’s good, but we need to speed up.
Sarah V. Doyon, general director of Trajectoire Québec
Concretely, while waiting for the REM, Trajectoire Québec is calling for “multiply the terminals, places and ways of being able to obtain a ticket”. “We should also perhaps have clearer communication, both for Montrealers returning from a trip and tourists,” raises M.me Doyon.
For tourists, she said, “it would mainly require information agents in the airport itself”, while for Montrealers, “it could be offering them to buy the return ticket when they come to the airport to avoid problems on the way back, precisely.”
Line 747 service is offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It connects the airport and the Lionel-Groulx and Berri-UQAM metro stations, as well as the bus station in the city center from Montreal. A direct route is also possible to go to Lionel-Groulx station.