Montréal is a transportation hub in the populace are of eastern Canada. It has well-developed air, road, rail, and maritime links to the rest of Canada, as well as the United States and Europe.
Montréal's public transport system is clean, safe and efficient. It is primarily composed of the metro and bus system. The Société des transports de Montréal (STM) or Montréal Transit Corporation operates the system. Their site includes info on the bus and metro schedules, maps, fare information and trip calculator.
Metro stations are conveniently located throughout the city. Opening hours are from 5:30 to between 12:30-1:30 (depending on the station and day of the week). Bicycles are allowed on the metro outside of the rush hours. Note that metro stations and cars lack air conditioning and can be extremely hot.
At each subway station, directions are indicated as westbound or eastbound in the direction of a subway line's terminus. For example, the green line runs from Angrignon in the west to Honoré-Beaugrand in the east. If you were to travel eastbound, you would look for Honoré-Beaugrand on the platform. If you were to travel westbound, you would look for Angrignon.
Bus stops show the type of bus (reserved bus lane, metrobus, express bus, night bus), its bus line number, its AUTOBUS stop number and the next metro station on the bus' schedule.
Express buses have special bus stops and only hit main spots. They are designated by a green E on their front and on the bus stop signs.
Metrobuses only stop at special stops. They are designated by a green M on their front and on the bus stop signs.
Night buses operate after the metro closes down for the night. The night bus lines do not take the same route as their daytime equivalent and usually run only once every hour until the metro opens at 5:30. Night bus lines are identified by a black crescent moon on the bus stops and their number usually start with a 3. Reserved bus lanes are designated with large white lozenges. No cars (except taxis) can use those lanes during rush hour. Reserved lane bus lines (aka rush hour bus lines) don't have the same number as their non-rush-hour equivalent. The rush hour buses have a large white lozenge over a green circle on the front of the buses and their number usually start with a 5.
Tickets have been replaced by cards with magnetic stripe called an à la carte ticket. These are valid for one trip (including unlimited transfers in the same way for 90 min) on the metro and buses. Tickets cost $3.00 each (exact fare in coins is required on the buses). Ticket prices go down when you purchase in bulk (i.e. 10 trips for $24). A 1 day card (24 hours) costs $8; 3 day card costs $16. Discounts are available for youth, the elderly, and students (only students studying at a recognized academic institution in Montréal may benefit from student fares. Transit service is free for children under 12 on some holidays when accompanied by an adult with a valid fare card.
The OPUS card is a smart card with a chip that contains fare and transfer information. The OPUS card can be purchased at all metro stations and transit fare points of sale. The card costs $6 and can be refilled at metro stations using the automated machines or at the ticket booth. Once your transit fare is loaded onto the card, hold the OPUS card above the reader on the fare box in the bus or on the turnstile in the métro. To validate your fare, place your card against the card reader and hold for a second. You must keep your valid transit fare for the duration of your trip, as it is your proof of payment.
The south shore has their own public transit system. Known as the RTL, the south shore bus terminal is at Bonaventure metro station. There's only one metro station on the south shore the island and it's the Longueuil metro station (south shore).
Laval is a suburb north of Montréal with its own public transit system, STL. The Laval bus terminal is at Henri-Bourassa metro station. There are 3 stations in Laval.
Walking the downtown is one of the best way to navigate the city. Pedestrians have the right away at intersections and crosswalks. Jaywalking is widespread and rarely punished. Beware that in the winter months sidewalks can be icy and extremely hazardous. Montréal also has a Underground City (Montréal souterrain) that is a network of pedestrian corridors connecting Métro (subway) stations, shopping centres, and office complexes.
Cycling is popular and an excellent way to travel the city. There are over 650km of cycle paths. Note that some paths are quite crowded like the rue Rachel.
The Bixi program is North America's largest bike sharing system with 5,000 bicycles. It is accessible to locals and tourists alike and utilizes the city's already user friendly paths and attitude. There are 400 depots located throughout the city. Bikes can be rented from automated stations with a Bixi key obtained through a long-term online subscription (30 days or annual) or an access code provided by the pay station (24-hour access). Subscribers receive an unlimited number of rentals under 30 minutes. Subscriptions are $5 per day (at a pay station), $28 per month or $78 per year.
Find out more about bike rental systems in "Bike Share for Locals and Travelers".
Montréal is the rail centre for eastern Canada. The city is served by Canada's two transcontinental systems, the Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railways, as well as by American railways like Amtrak. VIA Rail, headquartered in Montréal, provides rail service to other cities in Canada. All intercity trains and most commuter trains operate out of Central Station (Gare Centrale). The rest of the commuter trains operate out of the Lucien-L'Allier Station or at Parc metro station.
Montréal is a hub for bus services to other cities in Canada as well as the USA. Most buses arrive and depart from the Station Centrale d'autobus (separate from the Gare Centrale).
Two major airports serve Montréal.
(IATA: YUL, ICAO: CYUL; French: Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal) - Also known as Montréal-Trudeau, or by it's former name of Dorval Airport, this airport handles domestic and international scheduled passenger flights. Located in the city of Dorval located approximately 20 minutes from downtown Montréal, it serves all commercial passenger traffic and is the headquarters for Air Canada and Air Transat. Over twelve million passengers pass through this airport every year.
Transport to/from Airport
Shuttle: L'Aérobus is an express motor bus to Montréal Central Bus Station. It runs every 30 minutes, tickets cost $15. An express rail shuttle service is being planned, with construction expected to be completed between 2013 and 2015.
Bus: STM has 5 regular bus routes serving Trudeau International Airport. The main route is 747 Montréal-Trudeau/Downtown route (Operating 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year connecting the airport to eight downtown stops. Service runs every 10-12 minutes from 8:30 to 20:00, every 30 minutes from 5:30 to 8:30 and 20:00 to 1:00, every hour 2:00 to 5:00. Minimum tariff is a day pass, with all other STM pass-type fares (3-day, weekly and monthly) also accepted). In addition, route 204 Cardinal, route 209 (Monday to Friday), route 356 Lachine/Montréal-Trudeau/Des Sources and 378 Sauvé/Côte-Vertu/Montréal-Trudeau (night buses) are also available.
Drive: It's about a 15-20 minute ride to downtown. Take autoroute 20 east to the Décarie interchange, then the 720 east, then the Centre-ville / Guy street or de la Montagne exit. Major car rental counters can be found here including: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, Enterprise, National et Thrifty. There is pay outdoor & indoor parking and valet service available.
Taxi: Taxis are available just outside the airport. Typical fare to downtown is $38.
(IATA: YMX, ICAO: CYMX) - Often referred to as Mirabel, this airport serves cargo flights along with MEDEVACs and general aviation. Built on the 1970's, this airport declined in importance from the 80's and the last commercial flight using Mirabel departed to London on October 31, 2004.
It is located about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of the center of Montréal.
Taxis are easily available to hail on the street, as well as outside of tourist areas, transport hubs, or hotels. You can also reserve a cab by calling ahead with your name and address. Taxis may be yellow or a variety of other colors and they are indicated by a light-up taxi sign on top of the vehicle.
Taxis all use meters and negotiation is not an option. Fares start at $3.45 plus $1.70 per kilometer, and $0.63 for each minute in traffic (no surcharge for evening service). There is a fixed price for travel from/to the airport and downtown - $38 Montréal-Trudeau / Dorval $75. It is standard practice to tip a taxi driver anywhere from 10 - 20 percent.
Ferries (navettes) run to and from Île Sainte-Hélène, generally from May to October. Frequent routes are from the Old Port of Montréal to the suburb of Longueuil on the south shore. Information on routes can be found on: www.traversiers.gouv.qc.ca/fr.
Canada has more than 1,400,000 km of roads. Car rental can allow visitors to see the hidden parts of Canada and move around greater Montréal with ease. Rentals can be easily arranged online or at points of entry. Several major car rental dealers are located at the International Airport, as well as the main train stations.
Expect to pay about $45/day; $250/week. Gasoline/petrol costs around C$0,68 (€ 0.49) per liter (US $1.70 per gallon). Car rental may require you to be over 21 years old, or pay an additional premium up to age 25. Renters must have a valid driver's license, insurance certificate, and ID.
Rental agencies require a credit card in the name of the primary driver as a deposit. Rental deposits at a value of at least $200 in available funds are required. Some rental locations may accept debit/check cards for deposits but may have additional requirements such as requesting proof of a round trip transportation itinerary in order to rent the vehicle. If you are using a debit card, the car rental company will place a hold on your deposit amount, and you will not have access to these funds until the car is returned. Please note that the amount of available credit that is necessary varies, depending on the type of car and the rental period.
Driving rules in Canada are similar to that of most of the western world. Roads and highways are managed by provincial and municipal authorities, with the exception of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Canada has road links with the United States at its southern and Alaskan borders. The Trans-Canada Highway crosses the country from East to West, is 7,821 km/4,860 miles long and is under federal jurisdiction.
Central Montréal can be difficult to navigate. Major freeways converge on the city, connecting it with the Trans-Canada Highway and with the freeway system of the United States. There is a grid-axis system, but it was not generally adopted by neighboring towns. Saint Lawrence Boulevard (also known as "The Main") divides Montréal into east and west sectors. Streets that cut across Saint Laurent Boulevard undergo a name change with Est or Ouest added to their names.
Since Montréal is on an island, the directions used in the city plan do not precisely correspond with compass directions, as they are oriented to the geography of the island. North and south are defined on an axis roughly perpendicular to the St. Lawrence River and the Rivière des Prairies.
North is towards the Rivière des Prairies
South is towards the St. Lawrence
According to the rules of the Commission de toponymie du Québec, the French-language form of street names are the official names. However, English generic equivalents such as "street" or "road" may be used. There are also a few cases where two names are official, such as "chemin du Bord-du-Lac/Lakeshore Road".
In Canada, driver's licenses are issued by the government of the province or territory in which the driver is residing. The Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec manages licenses in Québec.
To obtain a Class 5 (Passenger Vehicle) licence, you must be at least 16 years old and have the written Consent of a Person Having Parental Authority if you are under age 18.
You are allowed to drive the type of vehicle authorized by your driver's licence for a six-month period. If you also hold an International Driving Permit, you are allowed to drive for the validity period of this permit. It is recommended that you obtain an International Driving Permit if your driver's licence is not in French or English. In either case, you are not required to hold a Québec driver's licence if you meet the following conditions:
Parking can be difficult to find, especially in the downtown and old town. MaPlace.ca is a new initiative that allows drivers to reserve a downtown parking space in advance. Reservations must be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance or as far as one month ahead. Once payment is made online, a specific parking spot is guaranteed for the time requested. Prices for parking do vary, and there is a $1.50 service surcharge with every reservation, but client members are often privy to cheaper rates.