Montreal Public Transit - Opus Card and how to use it

Introduction

Montreal has trains, buses and an underground rail system called the metro. If you are visiting or staying in Montreal and will use the public transit you are most likely to use the metro and possibly a bus to get around, I'll cover using the train in a different hub. To gain access to the bus or metro you can use cash, at the time of writing this hub it is 3$ per trip. If you plan on using the public transit system for a few days or for a greater number of trips, you'll want to get yourself an Opus card.

Opus Card

The first thing to do is to buy one. At the time of writing this hub they are 6$ and can be purchased at any metro station, or at a variety of different retail points. Go to this page at the STM (Societe de Transport de Montreal) website to see where you can get yourself an Opus card. At these same retail locations you can add fares to the card. Currently you can buy groups of ten trips for 22.50$. Once you have your Opus card, you're all set to make use of the transit system. From where I live to get to downtown I have to first take a bus and then the metro, so the next section will describe using the card in each.

You can use Google Maps to plan the public transit route by keying in your starting and ending points and then clicking the public transit icon for it show the route. In my case, if I wanted to get from my house to Place des Arts in the city, it would point me to walk to and then take the 211 bus, then take the Metro from Lionel Groulx to the Place des Arts metro stop. Follow the Google Map instructions to walk to the bus stop, you will find there two separate things:

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Bus Stop SignBus Stop Schedule
Bus Stop Sign
Bus Stop Sign
Bus Stop Schedule
Bus Stop Schedule

Taking the Bus

First we'll go over the bus stop sign. At this stop there are four buses that stop here. The 201 and 211 buses are regular buses and some additional information is given for each one - the 201 bus also stops at the Cedar Park train station, and the 211 bus stops at the Pointe-Claire train station and the Lionel-Groulx metro station. The 221 bus travels roughly the same route as the 211, but it only runs during the rush hour (heures de pointe) and only on weekdays. The 354 is a night bus and as such, only runs between about midnight and 5AM. At the bottom of the sign you see a phone number that corresponds to the letters autobus, if you dial that number and then when prompted key in 57772 (the number at the bottom right of the sign), this will give you what time the next two buses will come for each bus that stops at that stop.

The bus stop schedule may not be present at all stops, and it may not always be exactly up to date if the bus schedule has just changed, but just the same, the bus stop schedule shows a simplified version of the route the bus takes and the bottom part gives you the schedule that that bus is supposed to stop at that stop.

STM bus
STM bus

Getting on the bus is easy with the Opus card, once you get in there is a card reader, just place your Opus card down on the card reader by holding the card on its edges and wait for a corresponding beep and a light signal that shows green. If you are paying attention, there is also an LCD display that shows how many tokens you have left on your card.

Metro Sign
Metro Sign

Taking the metro

If your starting point is a metro station, or if, like in my case, you took the bus to the metro, look for signs like these which indicate there is a metro station entrance nearby. As with other underground systems you can anticipate going down, and in some cases quite far down, and once at the level where you have to cross the turnstiles to get into the paid area, it is the same thing with the Opus card: hold it down on the card reader by the edges, wait for the beep, and again the LCD display will show you how many trips you have left. If, like in my case, you came directly from the bus and entered into the metro, instead of it showing that you have X tokens left, it will give you a message something like 'transfer accordee', or something like that. When you travel in the Montreal Public Transit, you pay only once no matter if you have to go from metro to bus, bus to metro, bus to bus, or bus to bus to metro, or bus to metro to bus. If you had paid 3$ cash to get on to the bus, the driver would have handed you a paper transfer. Once you get to the metro, there is a slot in the turnstile for you to put that paper transfer and that will allow you to get into the metro.

Montreal metro at a station
Montreal metro at a station
metro map
metro map

So once you pass the turnstile, normally you could go down another level to where the platform is, take a note of the destination you are going to - the platforms will show the destination stations to identify which platform is going which way. In my case I got down into the metro at Lionel Groulx and wanted to get off at the Place des Arts stop, so I looked for the platform marked by Honore-Beaugrand (the end station of the green line). Inside the metro rail cars there are announcements over the PA to indicate what the next station is, there are metro maps distributed sporadically through the rail cars and in some of the rail cars there is an electronic display that, among other advertisements and announcements, will show what station you are entering as you enter it, and what station is next, as you are leaving it.

Note that when you leave the metro, you exit by a turnstile that does not require any scanning, simply walk through it to exit.

Conclusion

If you ever come to Montreal, you will find that taking public transit is easy and will get you very close to where you want to go. One thing to note is that if you are travelling from one suburb to another, often the transit will have you go to a central point and then back out again, so it isn't sometimes the most effective way to travel.

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Comments 17 comments

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

Very useful, Phil. Thanks.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

It has been many years since I traveled on the Metro. I always found Montreal one of the easiest places to get around by bus and Metro that is. I did come back for a visit about 5 years ago and I was driving. Got lost for 3 hours trying to find Chomedy. (Embarrassing)

Very useful hub for anyone visiting or living in Montreal.


leroy64 profile image

leroy64 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

Great job Phil. That card system sounds like the way to go. It sounds like Canada is way ahead of Texas when it comes to public transportation. I like the picture of the station. Voted up and interesting.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec Author

Paradise, thanks!

Susan, I'd get lost trying to find Chomedy also, I know it is part of Laval, but what part I couldn't tell you. I was on the metro just yesterday which was the impetus for writing this hub.

leroy, the Opus card was just introduced here in 2009 so it is quite new. As for Canada being ahead of Texas, maybe you should say Montreal ahead of Dallas - it is not the same across Canada in the way, I am sure, that it is not the same across Texas. Thanks for the votes!


leroy64 profile image

leroy64 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

Phil - Okay. It's Dallas compared to Montreal. The DART rail has not been in place much longer than the Opus Card. I hope you aren't experiencing 106 degree weather up there.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec Author

No, it has cooled down recently, though today it is supposed to get up to 80F.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Very nice....I am forwarding this link to my mom...who was born and raised in Montreal....thanks for sharing....voted up and interesting.


BERN1960 5 years ago

Hello Montreal. I was born and grew up in Montreal. I live in Virginia now. My son, Cogerson, has his own HUBS. I used to live in the West End and took the bus to downtown Montreal. I am not sure how far west the METRO goes - I do not know if it goes all the way to Montreal West or even further west. It would be interesting to know how far west it does go. I always enjoy the Chicken Chalet and Smoked Meat when I go home. The last time I was home was in 2009. Thanks for the information on the METRO.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec Author

Cogerson, thanks for stopping by, I hope it helps.

Bern, from Montreal West the 105 bus will serve you well as it is one of the most common buses in terms of frequency. The metro doesn't really go in that direction, sadly. Thanks for stopping by!


BERN1960 5 years ago

Thank you for the response Phil Plasma. HOW FAR WEST DOES THE METRO GO? I HAD HEARD MANY YEARS AGO THAT IT WENT TO DECARIE BLVD...IS THAT CORRECT? Funny but the 105 bus was the one I took to Atwater and then one transferred to the METRO or another bus to hit the downtown shopping area. I AMONG SO MANY WAS SHOCKED TO HEAR THAT EATON'S WAS GONE ALONG WITH STEINBERG'S GROCERY STORE. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ANSWER...WE ARE PREPARING FOR THE HURRICANE HERE IN VIRGINIA...RAIN WOULD BE GOOD BUT WE DO NOT NEED ANY DAMAGING WINDS.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec Author

Bern, good luck with Irene. The metro runs parallel to Decarie with stops at Monkland (Villa Maria), Queen Mary and a few others. All of the stations are on the east side of the Decarie expressway.


daskittlez69 profile image

daskittlez69 5 years ago from midwest

I had something similar to this when I lived in San Francisco for the BART. It was a a must have and saved a lot of time and money.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec Author

Das, it does save money here as the cash price is 3.00$ per trip but with the Opus card it is 2.25$, however, for time it takes the time to scan.


pinkdaisy profile image

pinkdaisy 5 years ago from Canada

Thanks for the information. The Montreal Public Transit system is a "green" alternative to driving. Voted up!


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec Author

It certainly is a 'green' alternative. With many road infrastructure projects underway and planned, it is also a way to avoid the headaches of being a driver.


steve 4 years ago

I take the 211 it use to come on time now it's never. On time. It is really crapy they want us to use the buses I think I will start taking my car instead the hell with the buses


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 4 years ago from Montreal, Quebec Author

Hi Steve, now there is the 411 and the 405, so you are not limited to using the 211. I've never had to wait very long, and you can call the stm number for your stop to know when the next bus will be. With respect to taking the car, good luck once the turcotte interchange starts getting reconstructed.

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