Updates from July, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • admin 21:05 on 2010/07/31 Permalink | Reply  

    The Gazette asks whether the STM’s fines make sense but doesn’t come to any conclusion.

    I find odd that the STM can be so draconian in the metro, while on the bus the situation is so casual. There are buses with bad card readers where the driver will just wave people past, to keep things moving. There are riders whose fares don’t read, or for some reason their change doesn’t register, and after a try or two, they get waved past as well. Some people may be trying this in bad faith but most, I think, are not, and the driver’s priority is to keep to schedule and – in some situations – avoid a conflict.

    I’m also a little curious how many people are able to get into the metro without paying, and how. I’ve never noticed a lot of turnstile-leaping going on.

     
    • Marc 23:05 on 2010/07/31 Permalink

      It pisses me off when I hear the MTC go on about there being so much fraud (turnstile-jumping) when the solution is so easy. They need to put in the retractable doors that open when you wave your card. They’re like phone booth doors and the unmanned entrances at Jean-Talon and Laurier have (had?) them. You can’t jump those. But no; their solution is to have police academy dropouts on power trips hussle people to see if they’ve paid or not.

    • admin 11:47 on 2010/08/01 Permalink

      Except those doors only work where there’s a narrow passage, which is the case in the two stations you mention. It would look hideous adding them to a bigger space like the turnstiles at Berri-UQÀM.

      I guess what I’m thinking is this: from my perspective, over the years the STM has improved a lot. I remember when bus drivers were uniformly hostile. You encounter an occasional grumpy one now, but they’re mostly not like that any more. In the last year or two I’ve even been happy to notice that drivers no longer play loud radio while driving.

      The general tone of the organization has become more open. In other words, generally the STM has improved its client service approach a hell of a lot – except that its security force seems to be living in the dark ages. Somebody needs to get a handle on their priorities. The agents have to understand what’s important to the public – agents should be roaming through the metro system with an eye out for signs of swarming, bullying and similar trouble – but be flexible enough to recognize when something is not in fact a problem.

      There should be very quick response to real trouble, but in the sense of training agents in intelligent crowd control and being able to summon help when there’s a problem, not in the sense of the individual agents having itchy trigger fingers and a desire to throw their weight around because they can.

      And if there’s an issue with people getting in without paying, it should be studied and fixed before it happens. The STM is visibly spending a lot on PR these days, with all that new soft-cornered green fontage telling us how environmental they are and patting us on the back for being transit users. Fine, as far as it goes – but then this business of slapping a large fine on someone who absently tosses away a one-time ticket undoes the work they’re doing to make transit attractive and sexy. If nothing else, the PR folks have to dogpile on to the STM and get security to back off.

    • MB 13:59 on 2010/08/01 Permalink

      Marc, those really wouldn’t solve anything, as other cities have shown.

      Regarding the Gazette article…I feel like those complaining are so spoiled. Living in Paris, fare-checkers were a regular aspect of taking transit there. The fare-checkers had their own little uniforms. You’d see roving bands of them all over the network. They have little hand-held machines to check your ticket as you were exiting the station. You even have to swipe your ticket again at the turnstiles to exit RER stations or transfer to the metro. And you know what they complain about in Paris? Fines being too low. Fare evasion co-ops have emerged, where for a set monthly fee the co-op will pay your fine whenever you get caught. I guarantee those would start to crop up here if the fines ended up under $100.

      Can we take just an ounce of personal responsibility here? It’s laughable. It’s simply absurd to describe this as “draconian” or “from the dark ages” when it is an everyday feature in just about every modern transit network on earth (problems on our bus network notwithstanding). Providing customers with proof-of-payment is a novel feature. Losses from fare evasion are significant (regardless if you “believe” them), and being able to keep track of paid fares is a huge step.

      If you didn’t know that you have to keep your ticket, it should be a lesson in awareness. The ticket says, right on the front, in plain French, “Conservez cette carte jusqu’à son échéance. Celle-ci est votre correspondance et votre preuve de paiment.” The ones in Paris don’t say much of anything, and the London Underground tickets have the enigmatic “Issued subject to conditions.” I don’t buy the appeal to ignorance, since this is THE ONLY INSTRUCTION ON THE TICKET beside the arrows that show you how to put it in the machine.

      Here’s an interesting story on the matter. I was waiting for a friend at the puck at Berri-UQÀM last week. Out of boredom I decided to count how many people evaded the fare as there was not an agent at that kiosk (contrary to our dear blog owner, I see people jumping the turnstiles all the time). In less than ten minutes, I counted not fewer than 18 people evading fare through just six turnstiles, and from all walks of life. People were literally watching others do it before deciding to do it themselves. I saw two elderly women waiting in line at the machine to purchase tickets who, laughing, decided to duck under the turnstiles after watching a group of people do it. Hell, I’ve even done it before, though I knew that if I got caught, it’s a hefty fine.

      So, which is the least draconian?
      1) monstrous barriers preventing people from passing through a locked turnstile (ever try to get past one of those with a suitcase? not to mention it’s not difficult to jump *over* them)
      2) turnstiles constantly staffed with fare-checkers at every single turnstile (kinda fascist, and prohibitively expensive anyway)
      3) or random sweeps for proof-of-payment? (Keep in mind that people often confound “random” with “inconsistent” or “unfair.”)

      It’s #3, or we go back to the spirit of ’66! : complacently accepting millions lost every year through fare evasion.

    • Ian 15:17 on 2010/08/01 Permalink

      Honestly the biggest problem the STM faces is getting the Opus card readers to actually consistently work. I can understand the desire to cut down on fare evasion but half the time the card readers on buses barely work – a few drivers told me they get overheated… even when they work well they’re so slow it’s painful. New York managed to make card readers work, why can’t we?

    • admin 16:40 on 2010/08/01 Permalink

      MB, if I’m in a hurry and get down into a station to find that the ticket guy’s gone for a break and left the turnstile open – which happens – what then? I don’t know the answer myself.

      I would like to see some honest numbers showing what they pay security vs. what they save on fare cheating. I’m willing to bet it doesn’t turn out in favour of lots of fare checks. I’m almost sure it’s mostly that people who’ve just sunk $70 into their monthly pass don’t appreciate seeing other people get past without paying. It’s more a moral issue than a practical one.

      But if it’s so important, why not make our metro like Paris and London so that people need to slide their ticket through to get out, as well as in?

    • Tux 08:50 on 2010/08/02 Permalink

      I think it’s fair enough that they check fares, but I object to the way they do it. Small armies (like 8 guys… with 2 readers) of these faux-cops (can we stop dressing up security guards in uniforms designed to look like cop uniforms? It’s dishonest AND inflates their tin badge egos) blocking hallways, causing bottlenecks and checking every single person with their slow readers… maybe fare checks could be restricted to people waiting on the platform, and one or two guards at a time please, I am really sick of feeling like they’re trying to intimidate me. Plus, they absolutely need training. I heard one say “If you run I will have to take you down” – Take you down? What is this, die hard?

    • Arvin 21:51 on 2013/08/15 Permalink

      What happens if i dont pay a ticket from stm i dont own a permit yet and i gave a false addresse but my real name because they saw my medicare card can i get aresseded

  • admin 20:50 on 2010/07/31 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s longish, but I can recommend this recent New Yorker piece which, after some meandering, turns out to be mostly about a Montreal man with a very interesting art authentication business.

     
  • admin 09:31 on 2010/07/31 Permalink | Reply  

    A new project attempts to extract young gang members from their criminal milieu by showing them better alternatives, but it has to be done intensively, one by one.

     
  • admin 09:12 on 2010/07/31 Permalink | Reply  

    Dr. Gilles Julien talks about how his social pediatrics clinics fail to fit into the Quebec government’s categories, which makes it tricky to get grants, but he says he wants the government and the public to understand what he does because he’s seen a need they do not.

     
  • admin 09:07 on 2010/07/31 Permalink | Reply  

    A glimpse of the Mexican farm workers who come to make minimum wage on Quebec farms.

     
  • admin 08:57 on 2010/07/31 Permalink | Reply  

    All of a sudden disillusion with Bixi: Emile Thomas on Spacing complains of shortages of bikes, decline in the bikes’ condition and dodginess in Bixi’s environmental calculations. In the Globe & Mail, Mike Finnerty, observing the launch of London’s Bixi equivalent, observes that the service is the preserve of the middle class in Montreal; he also wonders how they will survive London’s dense traffic snarls.

    Journalists tend to exaggerate to make a point. I use Bixi and I don’t think the system is in as parlous a condition as Mr. Thomas suggests. I do have my doubts about the calculations of greenhouse gas saved because I suspect they’re not taking into account the large trucks zooming around town with trailers full of bicycles, redistributing them throughout the system – but I know those gas numbers are a very, very rough guess anyway, and just a PR lagniappe.

     
    • Chris 01:06 on 2010/08/01 Permalink

      I’m not sure I understand why bikes have supposedly become, like organic groceries and yoga, a symbol of the much-reviled urban bobo class. In Montreal, Bixi is trashed by some for being the plaything of students and Plateau yuppies. In New York, people resent new bike lanes because they’re apparently used by awful Bloomberg-era transplants who are turning the city into a vacuous utopia for Park Slope types. Then you have comments like the one from Finnerty that mocks “Bicycle Bell Woman,” who thinks the city should be “more human, less polluted, and that the choking tide of cars and trucks can be turned back.”

      There isn’t a single form of urban transportation that is healthier, more efficient and less environmentally destructive than the bicycle. So why all the snark?

    • naftee 11:39 on 2010/08/01 Permalink

      I can’t use the BIXI because I live in NDG :(

    • admin 11:56 on 2010/08/01 Permalink

      Blame Westmount, naftee. It’s the obstacle between the Bixi service and NDG.

      However, there’s supposed to be an announcement this week about new Bixi pilot projects. I don’t know more than what’s in that teaser, but if the Bixi can be brought to Lasalle it seems possible that yours may be one of the other neighbourhoods.

      I don’t know whether there’s a notion that Bixi has to remain contiguous, or whether it would be fine to have, say, a second Bixi territory that doesn’t often cross with the initial one. I guess we’ll find out!

    • admin 11:57 on 2010/08/01 Permalink

      Chris, it may just be journalists playing to the hoi polloi. I think it will blow over.

  • admin 16:58 on 2010/07/30 Permalink | Reply  

    The Lachine woman accused of having tried to murder her own daughter in what’s being described as an attempted honour killing has been denied bail and must stay behind bars till her trial at the end of August.

     
  • admin 16:36 on 2010/07/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Martin Patriquin samples a dessert poutine at Paul Patates; a Toronto writer tries to suss out Mile End.

     
    • naftee 19:18 on 2010/07/30 Permalink

      i’m not sure why he decides to start out his article with a visit to a sketchy sandwich place? A dive’s a dive, and there are plenty in Toronto and Montreal.

    • admin 09:00 on 2010/07/31 Permalink

      Wilensky’s is kind of a famous joint, and a survival of the past, but nobody goes there expecting an epicurean epiphany. It isn’t Schwartz’s.

  • admin 10:02 on 2010/07/30 Permalink | Reply  

    The Ahuntsic pastor accused of defrauding his flock is denying their claims he asked for loans and has failed to pay them back. But court cases against him are piling up.

     
  • admin 09:56 on 2010/07/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Here’s a big surprise: the federal government’s guidelines for automobile design are having zero effect on the greenhouse gases emitted by Canada’s vehicles and never will.

     
  • admin 07:48 on 2010/07/30 Permalink | Reply  

    As London launches its version of the Bixi, a Guardian writer comes here to check out how it works (with a link to Da Gryptions’ immortal anthem). The Gazette notices that London has 6000 bikes, 1000 more than in Montreal – but it’s a much bigger and more populous city, so that’s not unreasonable. (BBC says it has 5,000 bikes now and plans to ramp up to 6,000 later. Either way, all the bikes were made in Canada.)

    It’s also a nice irony that our lack of a helmet law is one of the things that has contributed to Bixi’s popularity: in Melbourne, you’re fined if you aren’t wearing one, no matter what you’re riding, so their Bixi-type system isn’t thriving. It’s the sort of thing that flourishes on spontaneity.

    It’s less of a nice irony that we end up paying more for our Bixi because we can’t benefit from it five months a year. Also, users want more Bixis.

     
  • admin 07:38 on 2010/07/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Now the city is saying work on Place d’Armes will be completed by fall 2011: people working nearby miss the square and the trees that used to be there. Good for tourism to have the square in devastated condition for two summers in a row?

     
    • Marc 07:46 on 2010/07/30 Permalink

      I still really think they should have revived those mothballed washrooms. Same for Philips Square. Would make life much more bareable for no shortage of people including those like me with chronic medical conditions.

    • admin 07:50 on 2010/07/30 Permalink

      Yes, but they would have to spring for attendants because the bathrooms would be used for other activities, which is why they were shut down in the first place. I do think it’s a shame that one often can’t find a bathroom without buying a coffee or something (which can just add to one’s problem, I realize).

    • Tux 12:17 on 2010/07/30 Permalink

      Maybe the problem of the criminal element could be mitigated by making them pay toilets that self-clean, like in Paris?

    • admin 09:46 on 2010/07/31 Permalink

      I don’t see those being installed underground in the old vespasienne spaces beneath Phillips Square or Place d’Armes somehow.

  • admin 07:23 on 2010/07/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Cédric Sam has a piece about the evolution of Plaza Swatow in Chinatown, which is set to open on Sunday, and points out that its name in Chinese has nothing to do with Swatow, a city name more usually transliterated now as Shantou, 汕頭. I’m assuming its ground floor is something like a small mall, or else the “plaza” part of the name will be equally misleading.

     
  • admin 20:52 on 2010/07/29 Permalink | Reply  

    Archives de Montréal compares a 1914 view of lower Saint-Denis with a Google Streetview of the same view. It seems likely that it’s some of the same basic houses on the left which have been brutally pared down to become the commercial façades we know now.

     
  • admin 20:50 on 2010/07/29 Permalink | Reply  

    Folks trying to save tiny Parc Oxygène in Milton Park are holding a festival to get more people interested in supporting them.

     
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