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Montreal’s New Mayor Orders Up a Big Increase in Bus Service

Newly-elected Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is delivering on one of her key campaign promises: to make it easier to get around the city without a car.

As a candidate, Plante promised to put 300 new hybrid buses into service, "so that people no longer have to crowd-in like sardines every morning to get to work." Under the incumbent, Denis Coderre, the mileage covered by Montreal bus service shrank 6 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to Plante's campaign.

Now Plante's administration has approved the purchase of 967 buses, with about 500 replacing older vehicles in the fleet and 465 to expand service, reports Andy Riga at the Montreal Gazette. The city will acquire the buses over five years, borrowing $1.4 billion (about $1.1 billion in U.S. dollars) to finance the procurement.

In all, the purchase will expand Montreal's bus fleet about 16 percent. Craig Sauvé, an executive at Montreal's transportation authority, told Riga the buses would bolster service on crowded routes and extend service to new areas.

Combined with transit priority improvements like dedicated bus lanes, the city expects the increase in service put Montreal back on course to achieve its goal of a 40 percent transit ridership increase by 2020 compared to 2010 levels.

The vast majority of the new buses will be hybrids, which are expected to result in long-term savings for the city and improve air quality. A few dozen buses will be all-electric.

Plante, the first woman to be elected mayor in Montreal, campaigned on a platform of making the city more hospitable for walking, biking, and transit and more affordable for lower-income residents.

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