If you’re visiting Montreal this year, will you be using the Metro subway to get around the city? After all, gas prices at an all-time high not only in the U.S. but also in Canada. What’s more, car rental prices remain quite high and you’ll have to obey Canadian traffic laws. If that’s not enough, do you want to pay for hotel parking as well? The solution then, is to give the Montreal Metro a try. In fact, it might be easier than you think and certainly far less expensive.

Montreal Metro Station (credit: Tourisme Montréal/Eva Blue)

About The Montreal Metro

Opened in 1966, the Montreal Metro features one of the largest rapid transit systems in North America. In fact, only one subway system in America is busier today than the Montreal Metro. To put this in more detail, only New York, Mexico City and Toronto have busier transit systems. Even more impressive is that Montreal has significantly more ridership than larger transit systems like the Washington DC Metro and Chicago L.

Société de transport de Montreal (STM)

STM is the parent agency of the Metro subway service. In addition to Metro, STM oversees the bus and paratransit service. In addition, STM provides a taxibus, providing service to areas not reached by fixed route bus service. STM further makes connections to a broader network of transit agencies in the greater Montreal area. Namely, the transit agencies of neighboring communities like Laval and Longueil, commuter rail, Via Rail and Amtrak.

Note: New Service: REM

A new light rail system is currently under development in Montreal. The Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) is expected to partially open this year. Managed by STM it is considered the area’s largest public transit project in 50 years. Upon launching, REM will connect to the Blue, Green and Orange Metro lines.

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Montreal Metro Subway Lines

Upon opening, the Metro had three color coded subway lines to accommodate 26 passenger stations. In 1986, the Blue line was added to the system. Today, the Metro has 68 stations with four lines that extend across approximately 69 km or 43 miles. With an efficient system, Metro provides service to many local attractions. This includes Notre Dame Basilica, Bonsecours Market, St. Joseph’s Oratory and Olympic Park. The subway lines are color coded as Green, Orange, Yellow and Blue.

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Hours of Service/Frequency

Subway service begins from each terminus at 5:30 a.m. In other words, the first departure from Snowdon to Saint-Michel on the Blue Line is 5:30a.m. Conversely, in the opposite direction, the first departure from Saint-Michel to Snowdon is 5:30 a.m. Trains runs quite frequently, particularly during the morning and afternoon commuter hours. The final departure varies from station to station. However, service generally ends around 12:30 a.m. although there may be slightly extended hours on weekends.

Fare Information

The Metro fare structure is similar to those offered by other major transit systems. For example, fares can be purchased for a single trip, multiple trips or day pass. Extended passes are also available, like a weekly pass and monthly pass. Of course, there are discounted rates for youths, older adults 65 and over and for paratransit. The complete fare structure can be viewed through the STM/Montreal Metro website.

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How To Pay

For more than 10 years, Metro rides have been using the OPUS card for contactless payment. Similar to American transit system cards like New York’s MetroCard, you can add money to it with a credit card. The OPUS card will allow you to scan your way through the turnstiles to get to the subway trains. If the OPUS is not convenient, you can purchase tickets from an agent or a vending machine inside a station.

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Chrono App

Due to COVID-19, Montreal Metro began offering the Chrono transit app for an ever safer way of contactless fare payment. Like the OPUS card, you use the mobile app by scanning it to the card reader. The turnstile barriers will then open, allowing you to pass through. On the other hand, you must use a Wi-Fi network to use this mobile app. Moreover, if your smartphone battery is running low, you should have a backup form to pay fare.

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Metro Subway Stations

If you’ve ridden the Paris Metro, you shouldn’t have much trouble identifying a subway station in Montreal. Indeed, the Metropolitan sign entrances are nearly identical from one another. In fact, some Montreal stations also have the Parisian-style twin light fixtures at the entrance. Once inside, an escalator can take you down to the subway trains. Please note that not all stations have elevators for wheelchair access.

Montreal Metro System Map (credit: Wikimedia)

How To Read The Montreal Metro Subway Map

If you have never ridden a subway before, understanding the system map can be daunting. On the other hand, if you’ve ridden the subway in New York, London or Paris, it might be easy. Indeed,  if you’re familiar with the Paris Metro, the Montreal Metro map will be far easier. Ultimately, the key to getting around the Metro is familiarizing yourself with subway stations and its ending point. By knowing the ending point (terminus), you’ll know the direction of your travel.

Sample Trip No. 1 (Easy)

If you arrive at the Central Station, how do you get to your hotel by subway near the Place d’Armes station? The closest subway station from Gare Centrale is Bonaventure a few minutes away. Head south for 190 meters (207 yards) on Rue De La Gauchetière to Bonaventure. From this station, take the Orange Line in the northerly direction of Montmorency. Your station is just two stops from Bonaventure.

Sample Trip No 2 (Moderately Easy)

Say you’re staying close to the Guy-Concordia subway station and want to go to the Place d’Armes station. If you look at the system map, you’ll see that Guy-Concordia is served by the Green Line. To get to your destination, you must take the Green Line in the direction of Honoré-Beaugrand. But here is where it might get a bit tricky, especially if you’re a novice. From Guy-Concordia, you must get off at the fifth stop at Berrri-UQAM in the Latin Quarter. From this station, take the Orange Line towards Côte-Vertu station. Your stop at Place D’Armes is just two stations away.

Sample Trip No. 3 (Moderate)

At this point, you should be getting better at reading the Montreal Metro subway map. In this case, you want to visit the University of Montreal from Place d’Armes station. Therefore, you should again take the Orange Line in the direction of Côte-Vertu station. Yet, as can be seen on the system map, you must make a transfer to the Blue Line at Snowdon. From this station, take the Blue Line in the direction of Saint-Michel. Once onboard the Blue Line, stay alert because the University is just two stops away.

Trip No. 3 Reverse Direction

You’re ready to head back from the University of Montreal. But before heading back to Place d’Armes, you also want to visit the Biosphere in Parc Jean-Drapeau. Thus, you must take the Blue Line towards Snowdon then transfer to the Orange Line. Take the Orange Line towards Montmorency but disembark again at Berri-UQAM station. From there, take the Yellow Line in the only direction it departs. Your station at Jean-Drapeau is just a single stop away. Not to be overlooked is St. Joseph’s Oratory, between the University and the Snowdon station. In this case, you will deboard at the Côte-des-Neiges Metro station.

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About The Author

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He also worked in the transportation industry for nearly 25 years.

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