From the category archives:

My Montreal

Bixi’s back with a vengeance this season.

Last fall, the city of Montreal took over management of the financially-burdened company and announced that it had adopted a plan to fund and keep the beloved bikeshare service going for at least 5 years. This season’s launch was accompanied by celebrity bike designs, launch parties, and even rides by the mayor.

All this fanfare — and security — has renewed interest in Bixi, spurring the sale of a record number of memberships:

As with last year, 5,200 Bixi bikes will be available at 460 sites in the city, as well as in Westmount and Longueuil. The service is off to a good start, with a record 37,386 members already signed up. That’s 4,000 more than it had at the end of last year, when skittish patrons weren’t sure if the bike-sharing system that filed for bankruptcy protection would survive.

Good news for those of us who like the service, right?

The problem is, Bixi still only has the same number of bikes and docks as in previous seasons. And there are increasing signs that the added demand is causing some problems.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Luc Ferrandez, the borough mayor of Plateau Mont-Royal, is short on action and long on excuses when it comes to snow removal this winter. Here’s a summary of some of the best ones he’s come up with so far:

January 12: We’re not trying to save money; it’s just that too many blue-collar workers called in sick. Says the guy who had a whopping 48% absenteeism rate from his job last year.

January 22: I lied. We are trying to save money. We can’t afford to clear the streets because of Denis Coderre’s $800k in cutbacks. You have $11.5 million budgeted for snow removal. You mean to tell me you’ve spent it all already? It’s only January.

January 23: Actually, it’s Helen Fotopoulos’s fault; we’re still paying down her administration’s debt. Helen Fotopoulos hasn’t been in power since 2009. This one’s on you.

January 26: Okay, we made a mistake. We’ll remove the snow after all. But only from major arteries.
Because people who live on side streets don’t ever need to get anywhere.

January 27: We decided to prioritize the sidewalks instead of the streets. So then why does the Plateau have the worst-cleared, iciest sidewalks in the city?

To be updated as more excuses appear. Which they no doubt will.

Update: March 4: A long list of excuses for why the Plateau had the least efficient and most expensive snow removal operations in 2014, including:

  • There wasn’t enough snow in three out of the five major storms to warrant clearing it. Even though every other borough did.
  • Progress is reported via social media, not via city databases. That excuses not sending important statistics to a city agency how, exactly? 
  • The streets are narrower than in other boroughs.  So there ought to be less snow to clear.
  • The snow removal equipment is older than in other boroughs. Much of it was replaced last summer, and they’re not any more efficient at snow removal this year.
  • The Plateau is the centre of Montreal’s nightlife, and has more cars and “difficult people” to deal with. The centre of Montreal’s nightlife hasn’t been the Plateau in years, thanks in no small part to Ferrandez and co. And there are fewer cars in the Plateau compared to most boroughs — most residents don’t own one. The only “difficult people” I’m encountering here are M. Ferrandez and company.

 

{ 0 comments }

Quebec schoolboard elections: Why you should care

09.22.2014

Folks, this is important: Quebec is having school board elections in November, and for the first time, the position of Chair is directly electable by the population. My wonderful aunt, Suanne Stein Day, is running for re-election as LBPSB Chair. It’s because she’s wonderful, and not just because she’s family, that I’d urge you to [...]

Read more →

Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques goes Quebec Solidaire

04.08.2014

There will almost certainly be a recount in my home riding of Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, won by QS’s Manon Massé by a margin of only 91 votes over Liberal Anna Klisko. Obviously, I would have preferred a Liberal victory over a Quebec Solidaire one here. The QS is staunchly pro-sovereignty, militantly anti-English, and has pie-in-sky ideas about [...]

Read more →

Montreal needs a reality check on customer service

11.25.2013

We Montrealers have a love-hate relationship with our service industry. On the one hand, we bitch and moan about surly store clerks and wait staff. On the other hand, we have the unfortunate habit of viewing it as a point of pride. We’re not like those Americans who greet the public with overenthusiastic fakery, we boast. We’re better than that. Our service sector may be grumpy and indifferent, but câlisse!, at least it’s honest.

Read more →

How do you solve a problem like Bixi?

10.09.2013

Montreal’s bike-sharing system is used by thousands of people, myself included, to get around. Montreal is a city where the ubiquitous orange cone is practically a symbol, with road closures and sinkholes and traffic nightmares and transit service outages the norm as opposed to the exception. In this context, Bixi is often the least stressful [...]

Read more →

Open letter to Bixi Montreal, one year later

06.07.2012

Dear Bixi Montreal, You and I didn’t exactly get off to the best start. Last year, I wrote you a letter about how badly I wanted to like you, but how, after a few bad dates, I’d decided that the relationship was not meant to be. Flash forward one year, and these days, I’m singing [...]

Read more →

University dropout rates: Chicken or egg?

06.05.2012

Interesting food for thought by Henry Aubin in the Gazette, with a perspective of the high dropout rates among university undergraduates in Quebec: According to the organization that represents university heads, CREPUQ, Concordia is the Montreal school with the highest dropout rate. UQÀM is hard on its heels. Université de Montréal is substantially better, though [...]

Read more →

Feels a little like ’87…

05.30.2012

Yesterday’s flash flooding in Montreal caused pipes and sewers to back up, led to water damage in homeowners’ basements, and caused and power outages across the city. Public buildings across downtown were evacuated as they filled with water. The metro’s orange line was down for several hours as several stations flooded. And roadways turned into [...]

Read more →

5 truths about the tuition protest that nobody has the courage to say (out loud)

05.16.2012

The student tuition protests have dragged on for 14 weeks now and show no sign of ending anytime soon. With the city under siege and anger rising, the media has been flooded with analysis and op-ed pieces of all stripes. But there are some things that nobody’s saying, probably because they’re afraid to rock the [...]

Read more →