Montreal's Metro system, called la Societe de Transport, compares quite favorably with the ones in New York, London, or Paris (it's better than the one in Washington). It's fast, safe, cheap, and reliable. With 68 stations, this system will take you to nearly all the places worth visiting in Montreal. The trains run from 5:30 am to about 12:30-1:00 am (see website for exact hours).
Public transportation is the best way to get around. The Metro runs on rubber wheels on an orange, blue, green and yellow line. The Metro and Bus services are both administered by STCUM, so the same ticket and transfer are vaild on either service.
The Société de transport de Montréal (STM), was inaugurated on October 14, 1966, during the tenure of Mayor Jean Drapeau. Originally consisting of 26 stations on three separate lines, the Metro now incorporates 65 stations on four lines, serving the north, east and centre of Montreal Island with a connection to Longueuil via the Yellow Line and, soon, Laval, originally to be completed in 2006, but now scheduled to be inaugurated in 2007. The metro system serves 284 million riders a year.
Something funny, in the wagons people do not look at you in the eye, something very weird among us brazilians!
Construction began in May, 1962 and was engaged before Montreal was chosen as host of the 1967 World Fair (Expo '67, held in the summer of 1967). Regardless of the fair, the city badly needed a mass transportation system, projects dating back to 1910.
You really need to know a little bit of french, but basically the usage of the underground is quite easy!;)
The Montreal subway (called metro, which is French for subway) is very efficient, but downtown Montreal is very walkable, so you won't use the metro as much you might expect. If you're there in the summer, I suggest walking as much as possible, because if you take the metro you miss the sights and sounds of the street, like this picture...
The metro here is great. Easy to use, one price (Canadian $2.75) for one travel. Buy an Opus Card for 20 passes for Canadian $20.00 but Opus cards cannot be shared (we were told). The metro is conveniently located at many of the main tourist sights like the Biodome. And if it isn't, taking a taxi is actually not too expensive either.
"The metro is for Montreal what the boulevards are for Paris or the canals for Venice."
Jean-Claude Germain, historian
The Montreal subway covers most of the key areas of the city (not the airport). The downtown area is located between Papineau and Atwater on the green line, Mont-Royal to Lionel Groulx. The yellow line links the south shore to downtown, the green line crosses the city from west to east, the orange line covers both northern parts and the down area, and finally the blue line links both ends of the orange line just north of the Mount Royal.
The metro is the best transportation availale to get around the city, period. I do prefer walking personaly, some might think it's weird to start from Longueuil, cross the Jacques Cartier bridge, walk around the Mount Royal and take the subway on Jean Talon at 7 AM. But I use it everyday to go to work, as I don't have the luxury of wasting a full hour by walking.
For the plan : http://www.stm.info/english/metro/a-mapmet.htm
Complete informations about the metro (unofficial website): http://www.metrodemontreal.com/
The metro system is in Montreal is very easy to use. Theres 3 main lines - blue, orange and green. If you are touring downtown, you will probably be sticking to the green and orange lines.
Fares: I have never used the 3 day tourist card, but the six ticket strip is a good buy for a long weekend in Montreal.
Hours of Operation: As great as it is to use, my only gripe is that it closes so early. It runs till about 12:30 am on weeknights and 1am on weekends. Yes, this is way before the bars close!
If you will be out past those times, there are night buses. You can find these schedules on the website below.
As a native New Yorker, when you say the word "subway," I think about grimey, littered stations, noisy trains, rats, and handrails that don't look hygienic to touch (Not to knock NYC. I still love this place!).
In Montreal, though, the first thing that struck was how CLEAN their stations were. It didn't even feel like a real station to me, 'cause it was so clean. And it didn't smell like a urinal either!
The trains were also in great condition. I just thought they looked kind of funny. They rode on big rubber wheels. I kept saying, "That's not a real train! That's a bus traveling underground!" But I suppose the rubber wheels explain why the trains were much quieter than NYC trains. The sound of metal wheels scraping against metal rails is not an attractive sound. Believe me.
The only thing some of my friends found confusing was transfering to the buses. I didn't really see that information explained anywhere (or it was probably in French), and you basically have to take a transfer ticket from these machines after you first enter the turnstiles. We ended up having to pay for another ticket.
We used Metro quite often.
You can buy a one day travel card for CAN $ 8.00 or three day travel card for CAN$16.00. It is very fast, and reliable way of seeing Montreal.
They give you a map of Metro and on the other side is a map of the Underground City. I was a bit silly and did not get it until a few days later! :-)
A 3 day pass cost $16 and is available on the metro, buses, pretty much everything means of transportation.
Just a little advice. You are supposed to scratch the silver number to validate the card, only choose 3 days. Unfortunatelly i put the card in my pocket and most of the numbers were showing which technically unvalidated my card but thanx to a nice station agent, i was still able to get through.
In short, do fold your travel card and dont put it with coins in your pocket.
The subway is the best way to travel within Montreal...the bus is a great way also...mostly after 1h00 a.m., because the subway is closed...So if you go out late, you won't necessarly have to grab a cab or walk...
Getting around by bus is also another cheap way of travel,
If you are making a bus and Metro trip combine make sure you let the bus driver know you are going to use it on the metro too until you get to the final destination.
Not during winter months
Best way to get to airport from around montreal without paying taxi fare...take metro to Berri station( all lines stop here). Once you are out of metro, go upstairs and it connects to central bus station. These buses go all over , some local, some very long distances, so you will see lots of lines of people for the longer distance buses, but the airport bus line was not long. Just buy your ticket where all the tickets are sold and tell them u want ticket to airport. Its $ 15 canadian.. then if you have time you can roam streets of the latin quarter which is a block away from bus station.. so if you have baggage, you can store it in the lockers at bus station for just $ 3. There is a coat room at end of terminal that sells the tokens and they are good for 24 hrs, so you can drop ur stuff off and walk around... ( thanks isa for that idea)!
I mostly walked during my short stay in Montreal, but did take the subway( metro) a couple of times, including going back to the central bus station to catch the airport bus. each ride is $ 2.75 but there are bulked prices if you plan on using metro more often and you can save by buying more tickets at one.