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Fare reform context

Why do we need to review fares

Public transit plays a key role in the economic and social development of the Montréal metropolitan region. Each day, it provides mobility to tens of thousands of workers, students and tourists over a 4,000 km2 area, where more than 4 million citizens (or 48% of the total population of Québec) lives. According to demographic projections from the Institut de la statistique du Québec, nearly half a million more people will live in the greater metropolitan area of Montréal in 2031.

At a time when many new public transit projects are being introduced and ridership within the region is increasing, the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) was given the dual mandate of planning public transit services for the region for the next several decades and revising the fare structure for all services. Fares ensure that funding is secured for services from year to year and help to develop and improve them.

Public transit fares are one of the major factors influencing citizens’ mode of transport choice, but to a lesser degree than the quality of public transit service offered or the cost of using an automobile. Fares, therefore, must be structured so that they meet both citizens’ mobility needs and the financial capacity required to provide high-quality services.

The fare reform undertaken by the ARTM in 2018 aims to make it easier for citizens of the metropolitan area of Montréal to use public transit.

When public transit is well adapted to riders’ needs and realities, fares become an important lever for using public transit. Conversely, it can become a barrier to usage when it is too complex. Simplifying the fare structure is the reason why the ARTM has been working on the fare reform since 2018.

The following elements must be considered in order to make the fare structure more resilient to changing ridership needs, the transit service offer and new technologies:

Types of travel:

Public transit services must meet diverse travel needs (e.g. citizens who travel to local services, students who go to school every day, people who travel to downtown Montréal regularly for work or occasional public transit riders as well as tourists who travel on an ad-hoc basis).

Citizens’ mobility needs are evolving, and trips are becoming more complex. We are a long way from the simple “commute-work-sleep” routine. Trips, which combine not only traditional public transit services, but also private modes such as the automobile and semi-private modes such as taxi and carsharing as well as active modes of transportation such as biking are becoming increasingly popular. Mobility needs are becoming more spontaneous and the reasons for them vary according to each person’s schedule

New services:

Traditionally, modes of public transit in the Montréal area have been limited to the métro, bus (including express circuits, paratransit and public taxis) and the train. The region is preparing for the arrival of new modes such as the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) and the Bus Rapid Transit on Pie-IX Boulevard (BRT Pie-IX), but also the progressive inclusion of services such as carsharing and bikesharing.

Different realities in the metropolitan area:

The cost of providing public transit services varies from one area to another. Housing density, workplaces and the number of businesses and services are some of the many factors to consider in planning services. These characteristics also differ greatly throughout the metropolitan area.

Ease of use:

The evolution of technology and payment habits have changed people’s views on and expectations surrounding fares. Technology opens the door to new fare concepts and innovations that were considered otherwise unattainable.

The last major change to public transit in the Montréal metropolitan area came in 1998, when TRAM View definition tickets were introduced.

Since then, the context has evolved considerably and though some changes have been made since, the fare system overall is still perceived by many as being complex and, at times, incoherent. It is, therefore, a good time to rethink the prevailing fares offered in the metropolitan region so that we can simplify them and adapt them to citizens’ mobility and travel needs. This is the direction that the ARTM has decided to take, particularly through the fare reform, which is being carried out concurrently with the Plan stratégique de développement du transport collectif.

The strategic importance of the fare system

The fare system plays a strategic role in the mobility ecosystem. In all major public transit systems, fares finance a portion of service costs. The ARTM’s Politique de financement (funding policy), adopted in 2017, established the funding structure for the public transit system in the region and the contribution to funding services by each party; that is, public transit riders, drivers, the provincial and federal governments and municipalities. The Politique de financement established the contribution for funding services by riders at 31%.

History of the fare structure

The past 40 years have been marked by numerous changes to the fare structure in the region to make it more attractive and encourage the use of public transit.

In 1965, we witnessed a revolution in fares with the arrival of the métro and the start of integrated fares between bus and métro. Later, fares were adapted to reflect the changes to the network and people’s mobility.

In 1980, the introduction of the CAM card (bus and métro) coincided with the integration of monthly passes, which represented a major change in how the fare system worked.

Already in 1982, the Gouvernement du Québec proposed establishing a standard fare structure for all transit operators in the metropolitan area to benefit riders; however, no concrete action was taken. Citizens had to wait until 1998 before this was implemented with the adoption of integrated fares. With fare integration, new standard public transit fares for all operators were defined according to an inclusive zone-based system.

Harmonizing fare practices started in 2008 with the implementation of the OPUS sales and collection system which, in one smart card, contains most fares for the metropolitan area. The OPUS system also kicked off the modernization of the fare system within the region by making it easier to purchase fares, thanks to the roll-out of numerous automated teller machines, the remote card-loading service, voluntary registration of cards which allow them to be reimbursed in the event of loss or theft as well as a series of other personalized measures that were introduced to enhance the customer experience.

Most recently, in 2011, the integration of a yearly pass into fares was another step introduced to boosting long-time customer loyalty and establishing exclusive relationships with them.

Highlights of fare changes in the metropolitan area


Abolishment of fare zones and integration of bus and metro fares in Montréal


Introduction of reduced rate for people aged 65 and over in Montréal


Introduction of the CAM (bus and metro pass)


Implementation of subsidies for fare integration


Introduction of combined tickets (inter-operator)


Creation of a regional transportation pass


Implementation of a new financial and institutional framework leading to the creation of the AMT


Implementation of integrated fare structure and definition of zone-based system


Implementation of metropolitan single fare tickets


- Introduction of reduced fare for Montréal students aged 18 to 25
- Implementation of fare integration support


Introduction of OPUS sales and collection system for all modes and networks


- Creation of the ARTM with exclusive jurisdiction over pricing
- First ARTM fare structure
- Extension of student discount to age 64


Start of construction of the Réseau Express Métropolitain


New fare structure for the metropolitan area

The guiding principles of care reform

The guiding principles underpinning the fare reform, which is also guiding the work on it, were outlined following a consensus-building and consultation process. This took place through interviews and workshops with ARTM partners, including representatives from public transit agencies (PTA), municipalities and the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM).

Out of a concern for geographic and economic equity and to encourage the use of public transit as well as reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, the ARTM structure for the metropolitan area must meet the following six following guiding principles:

  • Coherency –  a fare structure for the entire metropolitan area that takes costs, perceived value by customers and use of public transit services into account
  • Simplicity – fares that are easy for people to use and understand
  • Accessibility – fares that are accessible to all citizens
  • Resiliency –  a fare structure that can adapt to the customers’ changing needs, the transit service offer and new technologies
  • Flexibility –  a fare structure that can be coherently integrated into local fare initiatives
  • Integration capability with other mobility service fares

Key steps

The key steps to the fare reform adopted by the ARTM Board of Directors in May 2018 will be carried out in three phases:


Design | Consultation
  • Work on priority projects with partners
  • Introduction of online platform “Let’s talk transit fares”



Consultation throughout 2019 with community stakeholders, experts, citizens and public transit riders during the fare reform exercise.


  • Adoption of the fare reform by the ARTM’s board of directors
  • Submission of the detailed implementation plan for the 2020-2021 fare form
  • Progressive implementation of fare reform
  • End of fare reform implementation in December 2024

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Fare reform context
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TRAM tickets give riders access to the train, métro and bus networks

Question 1 / 2

Of the options listed below, which factor contributes most to your decision to use public transit?

Question 2 / 2

In your opinion, what percentage of public transit costs should be covered by users (from tariff revenues)?