A group of 20 Montrealers helped push not one, but two STM buses that were stuck in snow at Côte-Vertu Metro station Tuesday night, in the midst of a record-setting snowstorm.
Malik Bouabid, 23, was trying to get home to Dollard-des-Ormeaux as the storm picked up, and snow piled onto the roads.
As he waited for the STM's 470 bus, he saw a small group trying to push out another bus that was stuck and blocking the lane.
"I saw four little guys pushing one bus," he told CBC. "I took my phone out and filmed."
Wheels lost traction
Realizing they would get nowhere fast, Bouabid decided to lend a hand and headed over to a local fast food place to get some cardboard to wedge under the wheels.
"The wheels had lost traction," Bouabid said. "The tires just completely gave up."
The group still wasn't making much progress when the 470 bus arrived, and they realized that they, too, would be trapped if they couldn't get the first bus out of the way.
"The only way to actually get home was to move that bus," Bouabid said.
Volunteers step up
Bouabid boarded the first bus and appealed to the riders to get out and help push.
"I tried to break the ice, tried to convince people."
He asked for 10 volunteers and ended up with 20.
The first video Bouabid shot shows the group managing to push the first bus out successfully. But their elation was short-lived. The 470 bus was now similarly stuck.
It took 45 minutes to get the second bus moving, but the group was motivated: the driver of the 470 told passengers that their only option was to wait another two hours for a tow.
"So either sit there for two hours, try to find a cab, try to sleep somewhere or just get people to push," explained Bouabid.
They eventually succeeded in getting the second bus unstuck, with the help of a borrowed shovel and some road salt spread by a security guard.
Bouabid told CBC that this isn't even the first time this has happened to him.
Last month, during the last major storm, he says he had to help push another bus from Côte-Vertu station after it got stuck.
STM buses stuck, abandoned across the city
There were numerous instances of STM buses stuck in snow banks and abandoned overnight right across the island of Montreal.
In addition, bus service was slow to start Wednesday morning as many drivers were unable to get into work in the morning, and road conditions were rough.
STM buses are not equipped with snow tires.
"Maybe it's time," Bouabik concluded, to look for another solution.