10/24/2013 14:43 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 18:58 EST

STM projects 500 million trips annually

Montreal's public transit corporation is planning to increase its ridership by about 100 million trips to half a billion annually within seven years.

That's a 20 per cent increase, up from the 400 million trips now made each year on the Sociétéde transport deMontréal (STM) network.

STM chairman Michel Labrecque said the Strategic Plan for 2020 may seem ambitious, but he said he is confident the agency will meet its goals.

The plans include express bus lanes, advanced signals for buses and nearly doubling the network's reserved bus lanes to 370 kilometres — adding 25 new routes to the 29 routes that currently have exclusive use of lanes on heavily travelled roads during rush hour.

The transit corporation is looking at adding five new reserved lanes in the next year.

Labrecque said there is growing demand for access to public transit, and adding more reserved lanes to keep traffic flowing will help attract new riders.

"A bus with 50 people squeezed in the traffic — you're losing. You need mobility. You need fluidity for buses," he said.

The agency said about 60 per cent of the funding is already in place to pay for the major investments, which include new buses and metro cars.