Montréal metro’s 50 birthday candles

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Montréal is marking an historic occasion this week as the Canadian city celebrates its metro’s 50th anniversary!

The STM (Société de transport de Montréal) is inviting its customers and Montréal residents to celebrate the city’s metro, under the theme ‘50 ans au cœur de Montréal’ (or ‘50 years in the heart of Montréal’).

Half a century of service

On 14 October 1966, the Montréal metro welcomed its first passengers on the network’s 26 initial stations along the Green, Orange and Yellow lines, marking a huge leap forward for public transport in the city.

Today, 50 years, 48 stations and several expansions later, Montréal’s public transport systems enables hundreds of thousands of people to get around the city each day, with the metro playing a leading role in the city’s economic and urban development.

In Montréal, discussions began as early as 1910 about building tunnels to facilitate tramway traffic in the downtown area. However, the economic crisis of the 1930s put an end to that project. The Montreal Tramways Company revived the idea in 1944 with a true metro project, but the Second World War and the discussions concerning the municipalisation of public transport intervened.

In 1953, the new Montreal Transportation Commission proposed its own metro project, involving a 12.5km line under Saint-Denis, Saint-Jacques and Sainte-Catherine streets, at a cost of $117 million. All it required was the approval of Montréal’s elected officials, but it was not to be and they postponed the project again.

Meanwhile, Toronto pressed on with its own plans and inaugurated its metro in 1954, proving that it could be done, but who would finally dare to take on this project?

From the drawing board to the rails

Following elections in 1960, new blueprints presented called for three lines, which ruled out line 3 in favour of an entirely new line (4 - yellow) running under the St. Lawrence River to service the 1967 World Fair.

Three principles of the network would go on to make it renowned: the first metro to run only on tires, on an entirely underground network and employing a different architectural design for each station.

The first 20 stations were inaugurated on 14 October 1966 with Mayor Drapeau and Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger in attendance. One million people tried the metro during its inaugural weekend, with over 130 million trips recorded in the first year, the same year as Expo 67, which drew more than 50 million visitors to the city.

The metro is certainly one of Montréal’s greatest achievements, contributing day after day to the economic, social and cultural life of the city and the surrounding area. We hope everyone will be able to celebrate its inauguration, an event that completely transformed Montréal in the 1960s,” said the mayor of Montréal, Denis Coderre.

UITP extends its congratulations to Montréal and wishes the metro another successful 50 years to come.


The STM is one of the local hosts of the next UITP Global Public Transport Summit to take place in Montréal from 15 to 17 May 2017.


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