Commuters give Montreal's new water shuttle wave reviews

·3 min read
Commuters give Montreal's new water shuttle wave reviews

Philippe Michaud's commute from Boucherville, Que., to downtown Montreal just got considerably cheaper, and even though his bike is part of the trip, he's not relying on pedal power the whole way.

He's being propelled most of the 20 kilometres that separate his home on the South Shore to his workplace, and despite the fact that Montreal is surrounded by water, Michaud isn't crossing any bridges.

"I am sick and tired of being in my car for hours and hours," said Michaud.

For the first time on Monday, he tried the new water shuttle that, for $11, provides a round trip to up to 48 commuters at a time across the St. Lawrence River, be they with their bike or on foot.

"If you want to leave downtown by car, Victoria Bridge is closed, and Jacques Cartier takes forever," said Michaud. "Frankly, it's gonna be cheaper. It's $20 to park the car."

And by boat, the 30-minute trip is about the same amount of time it would take to drive outside of rush hour. During rush hour, it can be twice that — or worse.

Boucherville has bus services directly to Montreal or to the Longueuil Metro station, but the commute downtown takes between 45 minutes to an hour during rush hour.

Michaud said he has been heading into the office three days a week and plans to use the shuttle whenever possible. He hopes it becomes a permanent fixture, he said.

Pilot project launched

It's one of five new water shuttle routes between Montreal and the South Shore opening this summer under a new pilot project.

The regional transit authority has been offering shuttle service between Montreal's Old Port and Pointe-aux-Trembles, in Montreal's east end, for the past few years.

This new pilot project is adding service to Boucherville, Longueuil, Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Charron.

CBC
CBC

"There's actually quite a lot of destinations we're offering this season with extended hours," said Simon Charbonneau, a spokesperson for the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), which oversees the pilot project.

With a major construction project underway in the Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Bridge–Tunnel, drivers may find themselves trapped on one side of the river or the other as crews reduce lanes or close access entirely.

The water shuttle provides an alternative to driving through the traffic, while giving people a new way to commute, Charbonneau explained.

So far, people seem excited about the shuttle, which provides reserved seating to people who want to go on the ARTM website and plan their ride in advance.

OPUS cards accepted

People can also use their monthly OPUS card to go from the South Shore to Montreal as long as they have the right ticket plan that allows for crossing the river by public transit.

"The pandemic changed the needs for a lot of people," said Charbonnneau, and now the ARTM is looking for new services to offer the population.

This pilot project may become a permanent seasonal feature, and that decision will likely be made before the end of the summer, he said. And there's a possibility of opening the service up to new routes.

WATCH: Get a look at the ferry between Montreal and the South Shore:

Richard Lalancette, a Boucherville resident, was enjoying the service with his wife on Monday. He said it's excellent to have the shuttle available, and he enjoys seeing more of the river.

As far as his plans with his wife after arriving in the city with their bikes, he was playing it by ear.

"Probably the Lachine Canal and go and have lunch on a terrasse somewhere and come back this afternoon," said Lalancette, noting the shuttle is very affordable.

"There's not very many people yet, but we think it's going to be very popular."

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