To the people who run the Montreal trains

Dear AMT,

I have a few questions for you. As someone who rides four trains a day and always pays her fare, I think I am entitled to some answers. So let’s start at the beginning shall we?

Now I realise I am on the reverse commute, but 3 hours between trains? Seriously?

Now, I don’t know if you are aware of this trend caused by diminishing fossil fuels and devastating climate change, but many people would rather take the train than their cars into work. However, you seem determined to make sure that they don’t use your service. For example, I can’t take the train when I work the night shift, as they simply do not run. You have recently put more trains on, but unfortunately, not going in the right direction for my needs. I realise that you have to cater to the rush hour, to the people who are coming into the city. But I am here to speak for all those who work in the suburbs, in the huge companies that have their main offices outside the city center, etc. We are here and right now we feel at your mercy. We would be happy even with a train every hour. That way we are not so completely screwed if by chance something happens. Which brings me to my next point:

Your schedule is not the only deterrent for people deciding to widen their carbon footprint instead of riding the rails. UNRELIABILITY.

Let me take you back to a night before Christmas. It is after work, and I make sure I am at the train station well in advance (because if I miss it I am totally screwed-next train: 3 hours later). It is -28 with the wind chill and the little station building is locked. It is before Christmas so there are fewer people than usual, but still, there are a couple of teenage boys shivering in their less than appropriate winter gear (there was one boy without a coat- but that’s another rant). We wait. The train going in the other direction comes and goes. We wait some more. I am hopping from leg to leg, my leggings not quite keeping out the painful prickles of cold. Another train going in the other direction goes by. Fourty-five minutes I’ve been waiting. I am getting anxious about frostbite and hypothermia at this point. People start leaving the train station one by one, giving up. I finally phone my husband, who is at home, in town to come pick me up through rush hour. In the meantime, I run back to work, (a twenty minute run) to stay warm.

Now, I understand that there can be problems. That happens. But not having a warning on the speakers in place to let people know what is going on? Not providing any shelter for them? Not offering any alternative transportation when the system craps out? Unacceptable.

One more example from a couple of weeks before. This time it is 7 in the morning and I am standing at the first train I need to take, waiting patiently. It comes at the usual time, and I wait by the side of one of the doors for the horde of people to stream out before I get on. Suddenly, as the people are still coming out, the doors close. On the people. And then the train leaves. Without me getting on. Without half the people trying to disembark actually disembarking. I am sure my face mirrored the shocked expressions of the people on the train, their eyes wide, their mouths in perfect Os. And that was that. No more train. No explanations.

Now this is the most absurd one of all. You actually make people hunt down the AMT tickets. You have this convoluted system at the actual train stations where you can buy one ticket for exorbitant amounts. But if you want to purchase a pack of tickets, or get a monthly card, there are only a few places in the city who sell them. And they run out quickly. It has happened several times where I go get my monthly pass at the only place that I can get it and they have none left. So I am forced to buy several packs of tickets to get me through the month. It is inconvenient and I have to make sure that I actually find the validating machine at the station before getting on. Not to mention the fact that I have to trek to the one store who sells them to actually be told that there is none left.

And don’t talk to me about the Opus card, the new electronic system the city of Montreal has just brought in. I have yet to see it work. I recently spent a few harrowing minutes with a man trying to purchase 6 tickets on Opus with no success. He was getting more and more nervous as the train’s arrival time approached. Lucky for him it was twenty minutes late. He had time to scrape up enough change to buy a ticket in the old machine.


Why do you make it so hard? I want to take the train. I am willing to get up at an indecent hour for the privilege of riding your rickety cars. Yet I count myself as being at the lucky end of a miracle if one happens to come by, and live in constant anxiety about getting to and from work. If I miss one (and most likely that would be your fault and not mine), I am stuck in no man’s land and have to get all Jasone Bourne about my alternate routes.

Finally, and this is NOT something to be proud of, you are only just slightly a better option than idling alone in my car on the Metropolitan at rush hour.

I don’t know about you, but this indicates to me that there is ample room for improvement.

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