Tag Archives: Mass Transit

Getting Around

Montreal has an excellent métro (subway) and bus system. Visit the STM site – Tariffs for details on tickets.
2016: Credit cards from the US now seem to be accepted at the Metro ATM vending machines.
Before this the Metro would only accept Canadian credit cards.

For three consecutive days, the 3-day pass is good deal. For tourists visiting for a week and starting on Monday, the CAM hebdo – a weekly commuter pass is a good deal. Other useful passes including a evening pass starting at 6PM and a Fri-Sun weekend pass.

On the tickets subway to bus transfer or vice-versa is free to continue a journey, remember to hold on to your ticket for the entire ride. More details on the Metro at the STM Metro and Bus official web site.

2016: Slowly rolling out the new AZUR Metro Cars! They are great! Here’s a video on YouTube with pictures and video of both the old and new metro cars.

Bixi Bicycle is a great option if you have a working smart phone with data plan in Montreal. T-Mobile or Google Project Fi is a good choice for US residents. Bixi is only available in the non-winter seasons, though. The reason you need a smartphone is to get a quick map of all the Bixi stations around your location when you need to return a bike.
Be sure to read the How it works section on the Bixi page carefully, especially the part about how to return the bike. The bike has to be firmly inserted into the dock, and it may fail sometimes and the led light turns red. Do not leave – remove the bike and insert it again until the led is green! If this fails, note down the number at the Bixi web site and call, otherwise you will be responsible for a lost bike.
While buying a daily pass each day would be fine the advantage of buying the 3-day pass is that you will be charged the hold on your credit card for the bike deposit only once. The 30 day subscription is a great deal for 6+ days of Bixi use, but it seems tourists may not be able to use it since it comes with a Bixi key but that can only be mailed to a Canadian address. May be worth a call to Bixi to explore alternatives for those vacationing for more than a week in Montreal.
Bixi is great deal now that the daily pass price has been reduced to $5 and there are far more Bixi stations than previously available. Google Maps also now works pretty well and tries to show directions using streets with bike paths, which is very useful in the crazy-car-drivers world of Montreal.
Biking on most of the East-West roads will encounter flat roads, while most of the North-South travel will run into inclined streets, especially around south of Sherbrooke to north of Mont Royal. Ave du Parc is one tough bike ride.

And finally – remember to bring your helmet!

Parking is a major hassle on the streets downtown, and parking lots are very expensive. Moreover, driving downtown is just no fun, especially along Ste-Catherine (always avoid), or the lower part of St-Laurent. Avoid driving as much as possible. For any street parking, be sure to learn enough French – names of the days of a week at least – to navigate the multiple signs that apply to street parking. Paying for parking since 2010 is nice and easy now that they accept credit cards. The street pay parking stations accept US credit cards.

East-West street addresses in Montreal will have an East (Est) or West (Ouest) designation. The street that separates East from West is boulevard St-Laurent, also known as the Main. This is very important because looking for 4400 Jean-Talon without knowing if that means East or West of St-Laurent would mean a lot of time spent in searching to find the right place!

BIXI Montreal Key and Dock

How to use the BIXI Montréal system with a subscription key.

The key is shown on the left top of the picture.

Insert the key into the key slot. The LED indicators will start blinking orange and then turn green on a successful unlock and then the bike can be removed from the dock.

Be sure to remember to take the key with you! It is very easy to forget it, and that could turn out to be a very expensive $1000+ mistake if someone uses the key to “permanently borrow” a bike

If the LED indicators turn red instead, as happened to me a many times, just remove the key from that dock and try another one.

And on returning the bike make sure the LED turns green before you leave the dock.

The BIXI smartphone app is also an essential tool, so set that up beforehand. It shows a map with available docks and bikes on a map and can also be used to keep track of all your trips in real-time so can be used to check the start time of the current bike rental.


Visiting Montreal between Spring and Fall means it is BIXI bike season!

While the BIXI web site does not make it clear, it is possible for US residents to sign up for a BIXI subscription.
30-day membership is CA$30 for the 2016 season and it is worth it even if you are just visiting for at least 7 days in a 30-day period. These subscriptions also offer 45 minute rides instead of the normal 30 minute rides.

Sign up for the subscription a couple of days before your arrival. The sign up page will ask for a Canadian address. Use your hotel address. You’ll receive an email confirming subscription and if the email says that they are going to mail the BIXI key to the address, then call the BIXI customer service center and tell them not to send the key and that you’ll pick up the key personally.

You can pick up the key from a handful of main STM Metro Stations during normal working hours. Berri-UQAM is one of the stations that is also open on the weekend.

Once you have the key, call up customer service and they will attach the key to your account and activate it.

BIXI key instructions has a picture and instructions on using the key – ready to ride!

Be sure to read the FAQ and the Instructions at the BIXI web site. Any mistake can end up with $1000+ charge on your credit card. Be sure to check that the LED indicator turns green after you return and dock a bike.

Disclaimer: The above instructions worked for me in 2016. Be sure to read up all the BIXI rules on their website and also call up the customer service center for any additional information.

In addition to the key, it is quite critical to have a smartphone with a data plan since the BIXI phone app is critical to have. Many times you’ll find docks full or no bikes at docks so having an app to quickly see all nearby BIXI stations with available bikes or free docks on a map is essential.
The BIXI app also allows you to rent a bike without the key. It has an button on the app to generate a code which can be used to unlock a bike.