Urban transit began in Montreal in 1861 when a line of horse-drawn cars started to operate on Craig (now St-Antoine) and Notre-Dame streets. Eventually, as the then Canadian metropolis grew, a comprehensive network of streetcar lines provided service almost everywhere. But urban congestion started to take its toll on streetcar punctuality, so the idea of an underground system was soon considered.
In 1902, as European and American cities were inaugurating their first subway systems, the federal government created the Montreal Subway Company to promote the idea in Canada.
Starting in 1910, many proposals were tabled but the Montreal Metro would prove to be an elusive goal. First, the Montreal Street Railway Company, the Montreal Central Terminal Company and the Montreal Underground and Elevated Railway Company undertook fruitless negotiations with the city. Then a year later, the Comptoir Financier Franco-Canadien and the Montreal Tunnel Company proposed tunnels under the city centre and the Saint-Lawrence River to link the emerging South Shore neighbourhoods but faced the opposition of railway companies. The Montreal Tramways Company (MTC) was the first to receive the approval of the provincial government in 1913 and four years to start construction. The reluctance of elected city officials to advance funds foiled this first attempt.
The issue of a subway remained present in the newspapers but World War I and the following recession hitting Montreal prevented any execution. The gradual return of the financial health during the 1920s brought the MTC project back and attracted support from the Premier of Quebec. The Great Depression, indebting Montreal again and atrophying its streetcars attendance, overcame this new attempt and the next devised by Mayor Camillien Houde in 1939 as a way to provide work for the jobless masses.
World War II and the war effort in Montreal resurrected trams crowding. In 1944, the MTC proposed a two-line network, one line running underneath Saint Catherine Street, the other under Saint Denis and Notre-Dame and Saint Jacques Streets. In 1953 the newly formed public Montreal Transportation Commission replaced streetcars by buses and proposed a single subway line reusing the 1944 plans and extending it all the way to Boulevard Crémazie, right by the D'Youville maintenance shops. By this point, construction was already well underway on Canada's first subway line in Toronto under Yonge Street, which would be opened in 1954. Still, Montreal councillors remained cautious and no work was initiated. For some of them, including Jean Drapeau during its first municipal term, public transit was a thing of the past.
In 1959, a private company, the Société d'expansion métropolitaine, offered to build a rubber-tired metro but the Transportation Commission wanted its own network and rejected the offer. This was the last missed opportunity, for the re-election of Jean Drapeau as mayor and the arrival of his right-hand man, Lucien Saulnier, changed everything. In the early 1960s, the western world experienced an economic boom and Quebec underwent its Quiet Revolution. From August 1, 1960, many municipal services were addressing the project and on November 3, 1961, the Montreal City Council voted appropriations amounting to $132 million ($1.06 billion in 2016) to construct and equip an initial network of 16 kilometres in length.
The 1961 plan reused several previous studies and planned three lines carved into the rock under the city centre to the most populated areas of the city.
The main line, or number 1 (Green Line) was to pass between the two most important arteries, Sainte-Catherine and Sherbrooke streets, more or less under the De Maisonneuve Boulevard. It would extend between the English-speaking west at Atwater station and French-speaking east at Frontenac. Line 2 (Orange Line) would pass north of the city, from Crémazie station and descend under residential neighbourhoods to the south and the business district at Place-d'Armes station.
Construction of the first two lines began May 23, 1962 under the supervision of the Director of Public Works, Lucien L'Allier, the "father of the subway". On June 11, 1963 the construction costs for tunnels being lower than expected, Line 2 was extended by two stations at each end and the new terminus became the Henri-Bourassa and Bonaventure stations. The project, which employed more than 5,000 workers at its height, and cost the lives of 12 of them, ended on October 14, 1966. The service was opened gradually between October 1966 and April 1967 as the stations were completed.
A third line was planned. It was to use Canadian National Railway (CN) tracks passing under the Mount Royal to reach the northwest suburb of Cartierville from the city centre. Unlike the previous two lines, trains were to be partly running above ground. Negotiations with the CN and municipalities were stalling as Montreal was chosen in November 1962 to hold the 1967 Universal Exposition (Expo 67). Having to make a choice, the city decided that a number 4 line linking Montreal to the South Shore suburbs following a plan similar to those of the early century was more necessary.
Line 3 was never built and the number was never used again. The railway, already used for a commuter train to the North Shore at Deux-Montagnes, was completely renovated in the early 1990s and effectively replaced the planned third line. The next line would thus be numbered 5 (Blue Line).
The Montreal municipal administration asked municipalities of the South Shore of the Saint Lawrence River which one would be interested by the Metro and Longueuil got the link. Line 4 (Yellow Line) therefore pass under the river, from Berri-de-Montigny station, junction of lines 1 and 2, to Longueuil. A stop was added in between to access the site of Expo 67, built on two islands of the Hochelaga Archipelago in the river. Saint Helen's Island, on which the station of the same name was built, was massively enlarged and consolidated with several nearby islands (including Ronde Island) using backfill excavated during the construction of the Metro. Notre Dame Island, adjacent, was created from scratch with the same material. Line 4 was completed on April 1, 1967, in time for the opening of the World's Fair.
The first Metro network was completed with the public opening of the Yellow Line on 28 April 1967. The cities of Montreal, Longueuil and Westmount had assumed the entire cost of construction and equipment of $213.7 million ($1.6 billion in 2016). Montreal became the seventh city in North America to operate a subway. The 1960s being very optimistic years, Metro planning did not escape the general exuberance of the time, and a 1967 study ″Horizon 2000″ imagined a network of 160 kilometers of tunnels for the year 2000.
In 1970, the Montreal Urban Community (MUC) was created. This group was made of municipalities that occupy the Island of Montreal and the city of Montreal was the biggest participant. MUC's mission was to provide standardized services at a regional level, one of them being transportation. The MUC Transportation Commission was thus created at the same time to serve as prime contractor for the Metro extensions. It merged all island transport companies and became the Société de transport de la communauté urbaine de Montréal (STCUM) in 1985 and then the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) in 2002.
The success of the Metro increased the pressure to extend the network to other populated areas, including the suburbs on the Island of Montreal. After being awarded, in May 1970, the 1976 Summer Olympics, a loan of $430 million ($2.7 billion in 2016) was approved by the MUC on February 12, 1971 to fund the extensions of Lines 1 and 2 and the construction of a transverse line: Line 5. The Government of Quebec agreed to bear 60% of the costs.
The work on the extensions started October 14, 1971 with Line 1 (Green) towards the east to reach the site where the Olympic Stadium was to be built and Autoroute 25 (Honoré-Beaugrand station) that could serve as a transfer point for visitors arriving from outside. The extensions were an opportunity to make improvements to the network, such as new trains, larger stations and even semi-automatic control. The first extension was completed in June 1976 just before the Olympics. Line 1 was later extended to the southwest to reach the suburbs of Verdun and LaSalle with the Angrignon as the terminus station, named after the zoo. This station opened in September 1978.
In the process, further extensions were planned and in 1975 spending was expected to reach reached $1.6 billion ($7.3 billion in 2016). Faced with these soaring costs, the Government of Quebec declared a moratorium May 19, 1976 to the all-out expansion desired by Mayor Drapeau. Tenders were frozen, including those of Line 2 after Snowdon and those of Line 5 whose works were yet already underway. A struggle then ensued between the MUC and the Government of Quebec as any extension could not be done without the agreement of both parties. The Montreal Transportation Office may have tried to put the government in front of a fait accompli by awarding large contracts to build the tunnel between Namur station and Bois-Franc just before the moratorium entry into force.
In 1977, the newly elected government partially lifted the moratorium on the extension of Line 2 and the construction of Line 5. The Orange Line was gradually extended westward to Place-Saint-Henri (1980) and Snowdon (1981). As the stations were completed, the service was extended. In December 1979 Quebec presented its "integrated transport plan" in which Line 2 was to be tunnelled to Du College and Line 5 from Snowdon to Anjou. The plan proposed no other underground lines as the government preferred the option of converting existing railway lines to overground Metro ones. The mayors of the MUC, initially reluctant, accepted this plan when Quebec promised in February 1981 to finance future extensions fully. The moratorium was then modestly lifted on Line 2 that reached Du College (1984) and finally Côte-Vertu (1986). This line took the shape of an "U" linking the north of the island to the city centre and serving two very populous axes.
The various moratoriums and technical difficulties encountered during the construction of the fourth line stretched its realization over fourteen years. This Line 5 (Blue), which runs through the centre of the island of Montreal, crossed the east branch of Line 2 (Jean-Talon station) in 1986 and its west branch (Snowdon station) in 1988. Because it was not crowded, STCUM at first operated the line weekdays only from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm and was circulating three-car trains. Students from the University of Montreal, the main source of customers, obtained extension of the closing time to 11:10 pm and then 0:15 am in 2002.
In the late 1980s, the original network length had nearly quadrupled in twenty years and exceeded that of Toronto, but the plans did not stop there. In its 1983-1984 scenario, the MUC planned a new underground Line 7 (Pie-IX to Montreal-Nord) and several surface lines numbered 6 (Du Collège to Repentigny), 8 (Radisson to Pointe-aux-Trembles), 10 (Vendôme to Lachine) and 11 (Angrignon to LaSalle). In 1985 however, a new government in Quebec rejected the project, replacing the Metro lines by commuter train lines in its own 1988 transport plan. Yet the provincial elections of 1989 approaching, the Line 7 project reappeared and the extensions of Line 5 to Anjou (Pie-IX, Viau, Lacordaire, Langelier and Galeries d'Anjou) and Line 2 northward (Deguire/Poirier, Bois-Franc and Salaberry) were announced.
At the beginning of the 1990s, there was a significant deficit in public finances across Canada, especially in Quebec, and an economic recession. The Metro ridership decreased and the Government of Quebec removed subsidies for the operation of urban public transport. Faced with this situation, the extensions projects were put on hold and the MUC prioritized the renovation of its infrastructures.
In 1996, the Government of Quebec created a supra-municipal agency, the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT), whose mandate is to coordinate the development of transport throughout the Greater Montreal area. The AMT is responsible, among others, for the development of the Metro and suburban trains.
Announced in 1998 by the STCUM, the project to extend Line 2 (Orange) past the Henri-Bourassa terminus to the city of Laval, passing under the Rivière des Prairies, was launched March 18, 2002. The extension was decided and funded by the Government of Quebec. The AMT received the mandate of its implementation but the ownership and operation of the line stayed with the Société de transport de Montréal (STCUM successor). The work completed, opening to the public happened April 28, 2007. This extension added 5.2 km to the network and three stations in Laval (Cartier, De la Concorde and Montmorency). As of 2009, ridership increased by 60,000 a day with the new stations, making a success of this extension.
Since 2004, most of the STM investment has been directed to rolling stock and infrastructure renovation programs. New trains are being delivered and should, by 2018, replace the older ones (MR-63). Tunnels are being repaired and several stations, including Berri-UQAM, have been several years in rehabilitation. Many electrical and ventilation structures on the surface are in 2016 completely rebuilt to modern standards.
In December 2011, the AMT proposed its "Vision 2020" plan expanding the Line 5 (Blue) towards the borough of Anjou and Line 2 (Orange) towards Bois-Franc train station. On September 20, 2013 the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and provincial government announced the extension of the Line 5 east as far as Anjou with five new stations. After the Parti Québécois lost the 2014 provincial election, the future of the Blue Line extension came into question. The successor Liberal government had expressed interest in extending mass-transit to the Airport and implementing a light rail line on the new Champlain Bridge under construction. The project could cost up to $3 billion based on a February 2016 reassessment. Because of funding for infrastructure promised by the federal government in 2015, the Blue Line project remains a priority, according to Quebec and the STM.
The Montreal Metro consists of four lines, which are usually identified by their colour or terminus station. The terminus station in the direction of travel is used to differentiate between directions.
The Yellow Line is the shortest line, with three stations, built for Expo 67. Metro lines that leave the Île de Montréal are the Orange Line, which continues to Laval, and the Yellow Line, which continues to Longueuil.
Metro service starts at 05:24 am and 05:30 am and stops at 01:00 on weekdays and Sunday, and 01:30 on Saturday. However, the Blue Line service stops earlier, at 00:15 due to lower passenger volumes. During rush hour, there are two to five minutes between trains on the Orange and Green Lines. The frequency, however, decreases to 12 minutes during late nights.
The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) operates Metro and bus services in Montreal, and thus transfers between the two are free inside a 120 minutes time range after the first validation.
Fares are only partially integrated with the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) commuter rail system, which links the Metro to the outer suburbs via five interchange stations (Bonaventure, Lucien-L'Allier, Vendôme, De la Concorde and Parc). The AMT sells tickets allowing the use of both its trains and the Metro (TRAM titles) while the STM tickets do not permit the boarding of trains.
Fare payment is via a barrier system accepting magnetic tickets and RFID like contacless cards. A rechargeable contactless smart card called "OPUS" unveiled on April 21, 2008 provides seamless integration with other transit networks of neighboring cities by being capable of holding multiple transport tickets: tickets, books or subscriptions, a subscription for Montreal only and commuter train tickets. Moreover, unlike the magnetic stripe cards, which had been sold alongside the new OPUS cards up until May 2009, the contactless cards are not at risk of becoming demagnetized and rendered useless and do not require patrons to slide them through a reader.
Since 2015, customers have been able to purchase an OPUS card reader to recharge their personal card online from a computer. In 2016, the STM is developing a smart phone application featuring NFC technology, which could replace the OPUS card.
Metro stations are equipped with the MétroVision information screens displaying advertising, news headlines from RDI and MétéoMédia weather informations, as well as STM-specific informations regarding service changes, service delays and information pertaining to using the system. Since the end of 2014 the STM has installed screens in all of the 68 stations. Berri-UQAM station was the first station to have these screens installed.
Montreal Metro ridership has more than doubled since it opened: the number of passengers increased from 136 million in 1967 to 357 million in 2014. Montreal has one of North America's busiest public transportation systems with, after New York, the largest number of users compared to its population. However, this growth was not continuous: in the late 1960s and early 1990s, ridership has declined in some periods. From 1996 to 2015 the number of passengers grew. Today, portions of the busiest lines, such as Line 1 between Berri-UQAM and McGill stations or Line 2 eastern branch are experiencing overcrowding during peak hours. It is not uncommon, in these sections, that travelers must let several trains pass before boarding. The conditions between these stations worsen in summer because of the lack of air conditioning and heat generated by the trains.
In 2014, the five most popular stations (in millions of inbound travellers) were: Berri-UQAM (12.8), McGill (11.1), Bonaventure (8.1), Guy-Concordia (8.1) and Côte-Vertu (7.6); the first four are located in downtown. The least busy station is Georges-Vanier with 773,078 entries in 2011.
The network operations funding (maintenance, equipment purchase and salaries) is provided by the STM. However, tickets and subscriptions covering only 40% of the actual operations costs, the shortfall must be offset by the urban agglomeration of Montreal (28%), the Montreal Metropolitan Community (5%) and the Government of Quebec (23%).
The STM does not keep separate accounts for Metro and buses services. The following figures therefore include both activities. In 2016, direct operating revenue planned by the STM totalled $667 million. To compensate for the reduced rates, the city will pay $513 million plus $351 million from Quebec. For a budget of $1.53 billion, salaries account for 57% of expenditures, followed in importance by financial expenses (22%) resulting from a 2.85 billion debt. For the Metro only, wages represented 75% of the $292 million operating costs, before electricity costs (9%).
Heavy investments (network extensions) are entirely funded by the provincial government. Renovations and service improvements are subsidized up to 100% by the Government of Canada, the province and the urban agglomeration. For example, 74% of the trains replacement cost is paid for by Quebec and 33% of the bill for the ventilation structures upgrading is paid for by the federal government. Small investments to maintain the network in working order remain entirely the responsibility of the STM.
Montreal Metro facilities are patrolled daily by 155 STM inspectors and 115 agents of the Montreal Police Service (SPVM) assigned to the subway. They are in contact with the command centre of the Metro which has 2,000 cameras distributed on the network, coupled with a computerized visual recognition system.
On station platforms, emergency points are available with a telephone connected to the command centre, an emergency power supply cut-off switch and a fire extinguisher. The power supply system is segmented into short sections that can be independently powered, so that following an incident a single train can be stopped while the others reach the nearest station.
In tunnels, a raised path at trains level facilitates evacuation and allows people movement without walking on the tracks. Every 15 meters, directions are indicated by illuminated yellow signs. Every 150 meters, emergency stations with telephones, power switches and fire hoses can be found. At the ventilation shafts locations in the old tunnels or every 750 meters in recent tunnels sections (Laval), emergency exits reach the surface.
On the surface, blue fire hydrants in the streets are dry risers connected to the Metro fire control system. If a fire breaks out in tunnels, firefighters connect the red fire hydrant with the blue terminals to power the subway system. This decoupling prevents accidental flooding.
The design of the Metro was heavily influenced by Montreal's winter conditions. Unlike other cities' subways, nearly all station entrances in Montreal are set back from the sidewalk and completely enclosed; usually in small, separate buildings or within building facades. They are equipped with swivelling "butterfly" doors meant to mitigate the wind caused by train movements that can make doors difficult to open. The entire system runs underground and some stations are directly connected to buildings, making the Metro an integral part of Montreal's Underground City.
The network has 68 stations, four of which have connections between Metro lines, and five connect to the commuter train network. They are mostly named after streets adjacent to them.
The average distance between stations is 950 metres, with a minimum in the city centre between Peel and McGill stations (296 metres) and a maximum between Berri-UQAM and Jean-Drapeau stations (2,362 metres). Average station depth is 15 metres. The deepest station of the network, Charlevoix, has its Honoré-Beaugrand bound platform located 29.6 metres underground. The shallowest stations are Angrignon and Longueuil-Université-de-Sherbrooke terminus, 4.3 metres below surface.
Platforms, 152.4 metres (500 feet) long and at least 3.8 metres wide, are positioned on either sides of the tracks except in the Lionel-Groulx, Snowdon and Jean-Talon stations, where they are superimposed to facilitate transfers between lines in certain directions. Charlevoix and De l'Eglise stations are designed with bunk platforms for engineering reasons, the basement rock in their area (shales) being too brittle for a station with more footprint. The terminus stations of future extensions could be equipped with central platforms to accommodate a turning loop.
The Montreal Metro is renowned for its architecture and public art. Under the direction of Drapeau, a competition among Canadian architects was held to decide the design of each station, ensuring that every station was built in a different style by a different architect. Several stations, such as Berri-UQAM, are important examples of modernist architecture, and various system-wide design choices were informed by the International Style. However, numerous interventions, such as the installation of public telephones and loud speakers, with visible wiring, have had a significant impact on the elegance of many stations.
Along with the Stockholm Metro, Montreal pioneered the installation of public art in the Metro among capitalist countries, a practice that beforehand was mostly found in socialist and communist nations (the Moscow Metro being a case in point). More than fifty stations are decorated with over one hundred works of public art, such as sculpture, stained glass, and murals by noted Quebec artists, including members of the famous art movement, the Automatistes.
Some of the most important works in the Metro include the stained-glass window at Champ-de-Mars station, the masterpiece of major Quebec artist Marcelle Ferron; and the Guimard entrance at Square-Victoria-OACI station, like the famous entrances designed for the Paris Métro, on permanent loan since 1966 by the RATP to commemorate its cooperation in constructing the Metro. Installed in 1967 (the 100th anniversary of Hector Guimard's birth), this is the only authentic Guimard entrance in use outside Paris.a
The Montreal Metro had been a rather late adopter of accessibility compared to many subway systems (including those older than the Metro), much to the dismay of accessibility advocates in Montreal. The first accessible stations on the system were the three stations in Laval, Cartier, De la Concorde and Montmorency which opened in 2007 as part of the Orange Line extension. Four existing stations - Lionel-Groulx, Berri-UQAM, Henri-Bourassa, and Cote-Vertu had been made accessible during the course of 2009 to 2010. Bonaventure is equipped with elevators between the platforms and ticket hall; however, elevators connecting the latter to the street level have not yet been installed.
To date, there are nine accessible stations on the system, all of them along the Orange Line (though some are interchange stations): Côte-Vertu, Lionel-Groulx, Champ-de-Mars, Berri-UQAM (Orange Line only), Henri-Bourassa, Cartier, De la Concorde, Montmorency, Jean-Talon (Orange Line only), Snowdon, Rosemont, and most recently, Place-d'Armes. As of July 2016, elevator installation works are underway at Honoré-Beaugrand, have been announced for Du Collège, Viau, and Mont-Royal, and in the longer term at another dozen stations.
One much-discussed issue is the lack of elevators at Vendôme, the station serving the new McGill University Health Centre mega-hospital. It was decided that retrofitting the existing entrance building for elevators would be prohibitively expensive; as a result, in December 2015, the Quebec government announced funding for the construction of a second entrance building for the station, which will include a direct underground connection to the hospital and will be wheelchair-accessible. In the meantime, the STM has set up a bus line, 77 CUSM/Station Lionel-Groulx, connecting the wheelchair-accessible Lionel-Groulx station with the hospital.
The Montreal Metro's car fleet uses rubber tires instead of steel wheels. Because the Metro runs entirely underground, the cars and the electrical system are not weatherproof. The trains are 2.5 m (8 ft 2 3⁄8 in) wide, narrower than the trains used by most other North American subway systems. This narrow width allowed the use of single tunnels (for both tracks) in construction of the Metro lines.
The first generation of rolling stock in Montreal went beyond just adopting the MP 59 car from Paris. North American cities building subway systems in the 1960s and 1970s (Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Atlanta) were in search of modern rolling stock that not only best fitted their needs but also encompassed a change in industrial design that focused on the aesthetics and performances. The Montreal trains are now among the oldest North American subway trains in service - the Canadian Vickers MR-63 dating back to the system's opening in 1966 - but extended longevity is expected of rolling stock operated under fully sheltered conditions.
Unlike the subway cars of most other systems, Montreal's cars do not have air conditioning. In summer, the lack of cooled air can make trips uncomfortable for passengers. The claim, stated by the STM, is that the Metro being built entirely underground, air conditioning would heat the tunnels potentially creating a larger problem (the subway system in Sapporo also suffers from that same issue).
Montreal's Metro trains are made of low-alloy high-tensile steel, painted blue with a thick white stripe running lengthwise. Trains are assembled in three-, six- or nine-car lengths. Each three-car segment element consists of two motor cab cars encompassing a trailer car (M-T-M). Each car is 2.5 m (8 ft 2 3⁄8 in) wide and has three (MPM-10) or four (MR-63, MR-73) wide bi-parting leaf doors on each side for rapid passenger entry and egress. Design specifications called for station dwell times of typically 8 to 15 seconds. In response to overcrowding on the Orange Line, a redesign of the MR-73 cars removed some seats to provide more standing room. The newest Bombardier MPM-10 trains allow people to move between cars once on board, so that the passenger load is more evenly distributed.
Each car has two sets of bogies (trucks), each with four sets of support tires, guide tires and backup conventional steel wheels. The motor cars bogies each have two direct-current traction motors coupled to reduction gears and differentials. Montreal's Metro trains use electromagnetic brakes, generated by the train's kinetic energy until it has slowed down to about 10 km/h (6.2 mph). The train then uses composite brake blocks made of yellow birch injected with peanut oil to bring it to a complete stop. Two sets are applied against the treads of the steel wheels for friction braking. Hard braking produces a characteristic burnt popcorn scent. Wooden brake shoes perform well, but if subjected to numerous high-speed applications they develop a carbon film that diminishes brake performance.
Rubber tires on the Montreal Metro transmit minimal vibration and help the cars climb uphill more easily and negotiate turns at high speeds. However, the advantages of rubber tires are offset by noise levels generated by traction motors, which are noisier than the typical North American subway car. Trains can climb grades of up to 6.5% and economize the most energy when following a humped-station profile (track profiles that descend to accelerate after leaving a station and climb before entering the station). Steel-wheel train technology has undergone significant advances and can better round tight curves, and climb and descend similar grades and slopes but despite these advances, steel-wheel trains still cannot operate at high speeds (45 mph or 72 km/h) on the same steep or tightly curved track profiles as a train equipped with rubber tires.
All lines but the Yellow Line are equipped with automatic train control. Generally, the train operator does the closing of doors and starts the DA (Départ automatique, automatic departure), and then the train drives itself. The train operator can also drive the train manually at his or her discretion. Signalling is effected through coded pulses sent through the rails. Coded speed orders and station stop positions transmitted through track beacons are captured by beacon readers mounted under the driver cabs. The information sent to the train's electronic modules conveys speed information, and it is up to the train automatic control system computer to conform to the imposed speed. Additionally, the train computer can receive energy-saving instructions from track beacons, providing the train with four different economical coasting modes, plus one mode for maximum performance. In case of manual control, track speed is displayed on the cab speedometer indicating the maximum permissible speed. The wayside signals consist of point (switch/turnout) position indicators in proximity to switches and inter-station signalling placed at each station stop. Trains often reach their maximum speed of 70–72 km/h (43.5–44.7 mph) in 16 to 26 seconds depending on grade and load.
Trains are programmed to stop at certain station positions with a precise odometer (accurate to plus or minus five centimetres). They receive their braking program and station stop positions orders (one-third, two-thirds, or end of station) from track beacons prior to entering the station, with additional beacons in the station for ensuring stop precision. The last beacon is positioned at precisely 12 turns of wheels from the end of the platform, which help improve the overall precision of the system.
Trains draw current from two sets of 750-volt direct current guide bar/third rails on either side of each motor car. Nine-car trains draw large currents of up to 6,000 amperes, requiring that all models of rolling stock have calibrated traction motor control systems to prevent power surges, arcing and breaker tripping. Both models have electrical braking (using motors) to assist primary friction braking, reducing the need to replace the brake pads.
The trains are equipped with double coverage broadband radio systems, provided by Thales Group.
The Montreal Metro uses three models of subway cars:Canadian Vickers MR-63, in service since 1966. Of the original 369 cars built, 33 were destroyed in two separate accidents. They are currently in the process of being retired after over 50 years of service.
Bombardier Transportation MR-73, in use since 1976. They will soon be migrating to the Green Line as newer Azur trains are being deployed on the Orange Line.
Bombardier-Alstom MPM-10, named "Azur" by the public in 2012, entered service in 2016. Slated to replace the MR-63 model. They have fully connected train wagons that allow passengers to move from one end of the train to the other.
Idle trains are stored in four garages: Angrignon, Beaugrand, Saint-Charles and Montmorency. A fifth is under construction. Except Angrignon, they are all underground and can accommodate around 46% of the rolling stock. Remaining trains are parked in terminus tail tracks.Angrignon garage, west of Angrignon Line 1 terminus, is a surface building next to Angrignon Park housing six tracks accepting two nine-car trains each ;
Beaugrand garage is located east of Line 1 terminus Honoré-Beaugrand. It is entirely under the Chénier-Beaugrand Park, and its main access point is through the Honoré-Beaugrand station. It has seven tracks and accommodates light maintenance on MR-63 cars with two test tracks ;
Saint-Charles garage, north of Henri-Bourassa terminus, is located under Gouin Park. With eight tracks, allowing 20 trains to be parked, it is the main garage of Line 2. Also, under Jeanne-Sauvé Park, a training facility used by the firefighters contains one of the burnt MR-63 cars from 1973 and the obsolete picking train ;
Montmorency garage is built perpendicular to its terminal station to allow an easier potential expansion of the Line 2 deeper in Laval territory ;
Cote-Vertu garage is under construction underground at the end of Thimens boulevard to accommodate additional MPM-10 trains on Line 2. Accessible via a 600 metres tunnel, it will house a small maintenance facility and two long tracks for a total of twelve parking places. Two more tracks could be added later with the line extension ;
Rolling stock maintenance is effected in four facilities, in three locations. Two small at Montmorency and Beaugrand garages and two large at the Plateau d'Youville facility. A fifth facility is under construction at the Cote-Vertu garage ;Plateau d'Youville
The Plateau d'Youville facility in the north end of the city is located at the intersection of Crémazie and Saint-Laurent Boulevards. It provides heavy maintenance of buses, Metro cars, light maintenance of MR-73 Metro cars and is the main base for the track maintenance workshops (where track sections are pre-assembled prior to installation) ;Centre d'attachement Duvernay is a garage and base for maintenance of way equipment. It accesses the network through the Line 1/Line 2 interchange southeast of Lionel-Groulx. The access building is located at the corner of Duvernay and Vinet streets in Sainte-Cunégonde ;
Centre d'attachement Viau is a garage and base for maintenance of way equipment. It accesses the network immediately west of the Viau station (Line 1). The access building is within the Viau station building; facilities are visible from trains going west of the station ;
Berri-UQAM link is connecting Lines 1 and 4 south of Berri-UQAM station ;
Snowdon link and tail is an interchange track between Lines 2 and 5 south/west of Snowdon station used for the storage of maintenance of way equipment. There are no surface facilities. The tail tracks west of Snowdon station extend about 790 metres west of the station, reaching the border of the city of Hampstead. The end of the track is marked by an emergency exit on the corner of Queen Mary and Dufferin Roads ;
Cote-Vertu tail track extend 900 metres after the terminus station toward Grenet and Deguire streets crossing.
On June 12, 2008 the City of Montreal released its overall transportation plan for the immediate future. The following projects were given priority status in the overall transportation scheme:The Blue Line extension from Saint-Michel station up to the boroughs of Saint-Leonard and Anjou, committing to the line's original design. It would consist of five new stations: Pie-IX, Viau, Lacordaire, Langelier and Anjou.
The Orange Line extension northwest from the Côte-Vertu station, up to the Bois-Franc commuter rail station in Saint-Laurent. The extension would include two new stations: Poirier and Bois-Franc (an intermodal station with the Bois-Franc station of the Deux-Montagnes commuter rail line).
In the long term, a new extension of the Yellow Line from Berri-UQAM is being studied that would go to McGill station to ease congestion on that part of the Green Line.
Montreal's West Island newspapers have discussed in 2006 and 2007 plans to extend the Blue Line from Snowdon into the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce area of Montreal, as depicted in its original design.
In 2001, the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) has considered an extension of the Yellow Line with four new stations (Vieux-Longueuil, Gentilly, Curé-Poirier/Roland-Therrien and Jacques-Cartier/De Mortagne) beyond Longueuil–Université-de-Sherbrooke, under the city of Longueuil to Collège Édouard-Montpetit but their priority was switched to the construction of the proposed light rail project in the Champlain bridge corridor. In 2008, Longueuil Mayor Claude Gladu brought the proposal back to life.
A 2006 study rejected the possibility and cost of an extension from Lionel-Groulx station to the City of Brossard on the south shore of Montreal as an alternative to the proposed light rail project in the Champlain bridge corridor.
In 2012, the AMT study Vision 2020, proposed extending the Yellow Line under Longueuil with six new stations.
On July 22, 2007, the mayor of Laval, Gilles Vaillancourt, with the ridership success of the current Laval extension, announced his wish to loop the Orange Line from Montmorency to Côte-Vertu stations with the addition of six (or possibly seven) new stations (three in Laval and another three in Montreal). He proposed that Transports Quebec, the provincial transport department, set aside $100 million annually to fund the project, which is expected to cost upwards of $1.5 billion.
On May 26, 2011, Vaillancourt, after the successful opening of highway 25 toll bridge in the eastern part of Laval, proposed that Laval develop its remaining territories with a transit-oriented development (TOD) build around five new Metro stations: four on the west branch (Gouin, Lévesque, Notre-Dame and Carrefour) of the Orange Line and one more on the east branch (De l'Agora). The next to last station on the west branch would act as a corresponding station between the east and the west branches of the line.
In the early years of the Montreal Metro's life, a unique mode of advertising was used. In some downtown tunnels, cartoons depicting an advertiser's product were mounted on the walls of the tunnel at the level of the cars' windows. A retail film processing outfit called Direct Film advertised on the north wall in the Westbound track of the Guy (now Guy-Concordia)-to-Atwater Station (Green Line) during 1967-1969. Strobe lights, aimed at the frames of the cartoon and triggered by the passing train, sequentially illuminated the images so that they appeared to the viewer (passenger) on the train as a movie. Today known as "tunnel movies" or "tunnel advertising", they have been installed in many cities' subways around the world in recent years, for example in the Southgate tube station in London and the MBTA Red Line in Boston.