24 Mar 2010

747

At last, the 747 is starting regular service at Montréal's Trudeau Intl. airport. Now that may seem awfully late to some of you, given that other airports are already celebrating the arrival of scheduled service on the A380.

And it is awfully late, even if the 747 in this case does not refer to Boeing's venerable jetliner. No, starting March 29, Montréal's public transit authority will launch an express bus service with this number between downtown and the airport. If we are to believe the PR material, it is to run every 20-30 minutes, around the clock, 7 days a week. And for holders of weekly or monthly transit passes, the serivice is free. (Others, such as, say, tourists, will need to buy a $7 ticket in exact change on the bus - STM's attitude to customer friendliness shines through here.)

For me, this is great news as the bus will make its last stop on the way to the airport, and the first stop on the way into town, at the subway station 3 minutes from my doorstep. All I can say is: What took you so long?

Ever since moving here, I was convinced that there was some sort of conspiracy going on to make it particularly hard to reach the airport without a car. Despite being situated within spitting distance of two train lines going downtown, there is no direct rail link to the terminal building. And if you dared taking one of the few trains to the closest station, Dorval, you ended up in a concrete no-mans land with no footpath to the terminal. I did this a few times in my after-work escapades, and it was always unpredictable whether from Dorval, there would be an onward bus or if I had to cab it for the final kilometer.

As an alternative, there was a privately-run bus link from the airport to downtown, costing a considerable $16 each way and only calling at the Berri-UQAM bus terminal, quite a long ways from my place. Due to its inconvenience, this was only feasible with lots of time and no baggage at hand.

Most of the time, I would inevitably end up in a taxi, which at $40 each way adds a hefty surcharge to any trip. At least, I eventually found out that the cabs leaving from the airport are obliged to accept credit cards (which they keep very quiet about).

So hello there, 747! I think this could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship...


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