Where’s the Ride?
As a student in Montreal, even if you live downtown, you will probably be a commuter as well. Whether it’s a class at Loyola, there’s a party in the Plateau or you just want an adventure around the island, the city has a wide range of options to choose from that will get you where you need to go.
Biking is a cheap, fast and ecologicalway of getting around. Montreal is generally a bike-friendly city, with bike paths on major streets and parks. Check out pédalmontréal for an interactive map of bike paths in the Montreal area. If you don’t have a bike, check out some options below.
Bixi (montreal.bixi.com) is a public bike-sharing system with stations all around the island of Montreal. Bixi was designed for short urban rides, so if you have a credit card, for five dollars you can rent a bike for 30 minutes at a time, for up to 24 hours.They can be very convenient and especially worth it if you have the $78-per-year membership, letting you rent a bike for 45 minutes at a time. You will, however, get charged $1.50 for every extra half hour you spend on the bike, and if you live in NDG, consider buying your own bike, since most stations are located between the Decarie and Pie-IX.
- Right to Move/La Voie Libre
Tucked away in the alleyway behind the Hall Building between Mackay and Bishop, is this little Concordia gem. Right to Move (www.rtm-lvl.org) accepts donation bikes, fixes them up and either gives them away or sells them for a low price. They also have a drop-in bike shop where you can fix and tune your bike with the help of volunteer mechanics. RTM is a membership-based organization with $20-per-year fee to join.
- Mile End Bike Garage
The Mile End Bike Garage (bikegarage.org), located at 135 Van Horne Ave., on the second floor, has a mandate of making bike maintenance knowledge accessible for all. For five dollars a month, you can have access to the shop, tools, and the help of a volunteer mechanic.
In Montreal, riding your skateboard anywhere that isn’t a bike path or a skate park can get you a fine. Even at Victoria and Peace Park, notorious skateboarding spots, you might go home with a $680 ticket. Montreal is home to the enormous TAZ skate, bike and roller park though, located at 8931 Papineau Ave. You can check out its opening hours and fares at taz.ca.
Most likely you live by a Société de transport de Montréal metro station or bus route. The metro and bus are a good one-two punch, since they have complementary strengths and weaknesses. While the metro is a much quicker way to travel—fewer stops, no traffic—there are only a few dozen metro stops on the island, leaving many neighbourhoods out. Buses, though slower, will often be able to get you closer to your destination than the metro thanks to the plethora of lines running all over the island. That being said, it’s often worth taking a metro-bus combination, since one STM fare will allow you a free connection, acting as a transfer for two hours after you first embark.
- OPUS Card
If you are a full-time student under 26 years old and live on the island of Montreal, you can get a deal for reduced STM fares. For that, you need an OPUS card (stm.info/english/tarification/a-opus.htm). To get your card, you need to bring all the necessary documents (see stm.info/english/tarification/a-etudiants2.htm) to the STM Photo Studio (2020 University Ave., McGill Metro level, Suite B315), or to the Library Building on September 19 and 20.
- Night Buses
Night buses (even though some lines are not so reliable in terms of schedule) can come in handy in times of need—say, when you find yourself stranded in St. Henri at 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday. But do your research (stm.info/info/nuit2011.pdf) before hopping on the bus. Night routes, though generally similar to daytime routes, have different numbers (The 80 Parc becomes the 365, the 55 St. Laurent becomes the 363, and so on.), and aren’t always exactly the same as their diurnal cousins (The 356, which runs along Sherbrooke, goes all the way out to the West Island instead of curving up to Villa-Maria metro like the 24, for instance.).
- 747 Bus
If you need to get to or from the airport, don’t waste your money on a $45 flat rate cab ride. The 747 bus runs 24/7 and stops at Lionel-Groulx and Berri-UQAM metros, among others. A ticket costs $8.00 (coins only, and you need exact change), but it also lets you use the STM transit system (both metro and bus) for 24 hours, which is handy if you’re just getting into town and don’t have a monthly pass yet.
Concordia offers a shuttle bus service that goes from the downtown campus to Loyola. It comes every 20-25 minutes on weekdays during the school year, but every now and then something will go wrong and you’ll find yourself waiting upwards of a half hour. Lines can get pretty long, but the wait will buy you time to finish your coffee before the shuttle driver tells you can’t bring it (or any other food or drink) onboard. (Check out the schedule at concordia.ca/about/contact/campus-map/shuttle-bus-schedule)
If your destination is beyond the city limits, sharing a car might be a good alternative to the bus. Apart from Craigslist’s rideshare, (montreal.en.craigslist.ca/rid) you have other options. Allo Stop (allostop.com) is very similar to the CL rideshare, except francophone and a little safer, since all users have to register at an Allo Stop office. CommunAuto (communauto.com) is more of a car sharing service. You reserve the car online and use it as much as you like, and at the end of the month you get an invoice. Useful if you plan on using a car on a regular basis but don’t quite have the scrilla for leasing or owning.
This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 32, Issue 02, published September 6, 2011.
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