Airport Trains Suck. Will REM Too?

The Caisse’s REM proposal has given Montrealers hope to finally have a rail connection to the airport. The problem with rail connectors to airports, however, is that they are generally not a very good use of money: they are often expensive and have low ridership. Airport connectors underperform. Don’t get me wrong, I like the […]


How the Caisse’s Light Rail System will Crumble under its own Weight

A second, more sobering look at the Caisse’s “REM” proposal to replace the Deux-Montagnes Commuter Rail line with an extended light rail line: how the Caisse had good ideas but is executing it badly, which will cause trains to be overcrowded from day 1.Version française Update (2016-10-09): This analysis includes a couple of simplifying assumptions […]


The REM Proposal is the Best Transit Project Montreal has seen in 30 Years

Last Friday, the Caisse de Dépôt presented their project to build the ‘REM’, short for ‘réseau électrique métropolitain’. It’s an electrified rapid transit line connecting Montreal with its suburbs in the West Island and Brossard, which includes a branch to the Trudeau international airport. The proposal is exciting: 67 kilometres and 24 stations, replacing the […]


The Lac-Megantic Incident, It’s All About The Brakes

The Lac-Megantic incident was caused by an apparently unmanned train of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) loaded with crude blasting into a small town at high speed. The train consisted of 72 “DOT-111” tanker cars, which have been criticized in the past to “have a high incidence of tank failures during accidents” (NTSB […]


Montreal Tram Study – Going About it the Wrong Way?

A Montreal tram report studies the viability of a starter line. However, the proposed line includes a downtown loop, a section with questionable utility. Also, the proposed construction costs are too high. If we want a sensible network of trams that improves rides for as many people as possible, we need to focus on utility, […]


The New Yorker: Income Inequality Visualized along New York’s Subway

The New Yorker just released this nifty visualization, showing the median household income near New York Subway stations. It’s interactive, letting you click through the system’s lines, showing the the numbers for every stop. The accompanying article explains it as a way to show how the United States, and in particular New York City, has […]


Ottawa’s O-train (Part II): A Cost-Effective Project

In the first part of this series, I introduced the O-train and how it works as a transit line. The second part is how it got running, and how cost effective the project was. The O-Train was built as an evaluation project for light right technologies, to test whether it would make sense to build […]


A Bike Rack on the Stuttgart Rack Railway

The above image that I came across on this tumblr, got me intruiged. The image comes with this short text: Intermodal transportation involves using two or more forms of transportation in a journey. Bicycles can often increase ridership of public transit. However, limited storage space onboard hinders the promotion of intermodal commutes. This innovative solution […]


xkcd: Subways of North America

The webcomic xkcd put all real the subway systems of North America on one map, joined by imagined lines connecting the systems far away from another. Helpfully the author defines for us what he means by “subway”, for “the pedantic rail enthusiasts”: a network containing high capacity grade-separated passenger rail transit lines which run frequently, […]


Walksheds Visualized
Showing Populations near Montreal Rail Stations

walksheds are the area around a particular point of interest from where people are willing to walk to said point of interest. This point of interest is often a transit station, and the walkshed gives an idea how many people will reach the station on foot. While the walkshed depends on how walkable the area […]


Ottawa’s O‑Train (Part I):
a Little German Train in Canada

One a recent(ish) visit to Ottawa I got to visit one of it’s major attractions – the Ottawa O-Train! I had read about it before, a small project that transformed a short stretch of a freight railway into a transit line, using “Talent” Diesel Multiple Unit trains built by Bombardier. Using these trains is unusual […]


Another historical Map: 1949 Montreal Land Use plan

This blog wasn’t really meant to become about historical map mashups, but with the city of Montreal (and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) releasing all this interesting imagenary, I made the third map app within as many weeks. This one is a 1949 Land Use plan (source), showing a detailled view of the […]


Then and Now Again:
1947 Aerial Photography vs Google Satellite

In a sort of continuation of my transit map mashup comparing transit maps from 1941 and 2011, I made another mashup comparing aerial photography from 1947 and now. The city of Montreal published aerial photos from the entire Montreal island, that were made between 1947 and 1949. I was able to get a version of […]


Explore Two Montreal Transit Maps,
70 Years Apart

A zoomable version of two overlayed transit maps from 1941 and 2011 lets you explore the similarities and differences after 70 years of change A transit map is not just some means to help people to get around, it can tell you a lot about a city. Where do people live, where do they go, […]


Could Commuter Rail Equipment be Used for Affordable Intercity Travel?

The rail operator in France just started marketing a truly low cost high speed rail option. SNCF will soon start a new rail service under the name OuiGo (yes go! we go!), offering travel as cheap as 10 Euros for travels as far as 500 miles. This may be the cheapest HSR tickets anywhere in […]


Montreal Frequent Service Map – Update

This has been a long time coming, I’ve finally gotten around to update my Montreal Frequent Service Map. This is a map of the Montreal Metro and the whole 10-Minute Max Network. There haven’t been many changes: The 211 Lakeshore is not a 10 minute bus any more. The STM chose instead to create a […]


Everybody’s Talking about the Weather…

With the snow storm hitting the North-East, and thousands of flights cancelled, I’m reminded of this ad from 1966. It’s for the Deutsche Bahn, the rail operator in (West) Germany at the time. It says “Everybody is talking about the Weather … not us”, and at the bottom, “just rather take the train, DB”. Yes, […]


514 Buses –
get Montreal bus schedules via cell phone

Warning: I am currently transitioning this app to a new format so the schedules are not up to date (as of 2013). When I built the app, it relied on scraping the data from the STM's website, a painful process. I am now migrating to their GTFS feed, which will take some time. If you […]

The STM and the illusion of participation

The STM, Montreal's public transportation agency, presents itself as fresh and new and user-oriented, with a recently revamped corporate design (which is admittedly pretty nifty) and a public campaign involving tv spots and a new blog. They try to project an image of user focus. Just now the STM offered a new set of exciting […]

Bike Contrails

Contrails is a project to turn bicycles into a paint brush. The goal is to create a device that attaches to a bike and leaves a washable chalk like trail - a bike contrail. The Brooklyn, New York based organization behind the idea recently completed a successful kickstarter, raising ten thousand dollars. This will allow […]