With so many seniors and public transit users in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, bus shelters were a hot topic during last month’s election race.
“We as a party are committed to adding a thousand new shelters and benches within the city of Montreal,” recently elected borough mayor Russell Copeman said during a forum for seniors in October.
Other candidates even brought up the idea of shelters that could be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer.
But it’s actually Quebecor Media and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) that will be handling decisions about new bus shelters in Montreal.
“Quebecor Media Inc. was chosen, following a call for proposals by invitation, to manage the installation, maintenance and advertising operations of the Société de transport de Montréal’s STM’s network of bus shelters for the next twenty years,” a company statement said in June of 2012.
This summer, Quebecor’s new Abribus shelters were introduced, equipped with “84-inch interactive digital transit shelters featuring gesture recognition.”
They will normally feature advertising videos and images, but users can point at icons on the screen to get information on bus schedules, maps and the weather.
The company plans to replace all 1870 shelters in Montreal within the next 10 years and add an additional 850. Quebecor media is paying the full cost of the new shelters, and it remains uncertain how many of them will come equipped with the new interactive screens and whether or not any of those will end up in CDN-NDG.
Not everyone in the borough thinks the Quebecor contract is the most ideal situation.
“The current contract situation is disgraceful. It really is something that should be city-operated,” said Jeremy Searle, city councillor for Loyola.
Searle would prefer a move towards simpler, smaller shelters.
“Smaller, more efficient shelters could be implemented. There’s rarely anywhere to put bus shelters on residential corners because of their size, but if they were smaller it could be an option,” he said.
Searle says he’s not the only one who isn’t crazy about the current shelters either.
“People generally do not like enclosed shelters. People smoke in them, filth gathers and the advertising on the side makes them feel claustrophobic,” he said.
In terms of improving the current shelters, he thinks additional seating could also be appealing.
“One thing I’ll be pushing for is more seating in the bus shelters. A lot of them only have seats for two people when in reality you could fit seats for three or four people given their size.”
Specific information regarding the number of shelters that will be added or rebuilt in the borough is expected to be available within the next couple of weeks.