NEWS
11/22/2016 15:57 EST | Updated 11/23/2017 00:12 EST

Cigarette butt, smoke, communication failures lead to Metro closures

You have felt the dread: Standing on a Metro platform, you realize the train hasn't come for five, seven, or even 14 minutes. A disembodied voice comes over the speakers, saying the Metro line is down.

The small crowd gathering around you becomes large, and larger still, and you realize that your entire trip will be shoulder-to-shoulder with every other transit user at your stop, including that guy to your left, who is showing signs of some sort of communicable disease.

Service on the Metro is down from time to time, but users over the last week have experienced shutdowns nearly daily.

Let's look at some of the reasons why.

1. An errant cigarette butt

On Monday, at around 8:15 a.m., service was disrupted on the Orange line. The initial report issued by the STM said emergency services were called, but in the end, the culprit was a cigarette butt thrown on the track by a passenger.

Service resumed at 8:40 a.m., effectively making huge numbers of Montreal commuters late for work or class.

2. Smoke under the train/electrical problem

Last Tuesday, also during morning rush hour, service was interrupted on the Green line for nearly an hour and a quarter due to a smoking train.

On Thursday, the Green line was blocked between two stations due to an electrical problem. That outage lasted an hour and a half and required the evacuation of passengers.

The tone of the tweet issued by the STM sounded more stressed out than usual.

3. Radiocommunication problems

Twice in the last week, the entire Metro has come to a standstill while the STM dealt with communications problems within the system.

On Tuesday, all four lines were down for 23 minutes while the Metro dealt with telephonic problems, the cause of which has never been clarified. The same problem occurred on Wednesday morning, forcing the closure of all four lines for another 19 minutes.

At the time, the spokeswoman for the STM said the interruption was related to a communication problem between the control room and the Metro network.

4. People on the tracks

On Thursday, the entire Green line was down when someone jumped onto the tracks. Police were called, and the person was removed. 

Things have been worse

It sounds like the Metro is falling apart, but this year there have actually been fewer shutdowns lasting more than five minutes than there were last year. So far, the STM has recorded about 800 incidents in 2016. In 2015, there were 956.

Luc Tremblay, general manager of the STM, told CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada, he's aware that things have been hard for commuters.

"However, these events are coincidences and have no connection between them," he said.

Craig Sauvé, transport critic for municipal opposition party Projet Montréal, said more should be done to prevent breakdowns on the Metro. 

"There are economic costs to Metro breakdowns," he said.

He said the city should invest more money into public transportation.