Quebec City Gets New 803 MetroBus

Quebec City Gets New 803 MetroBus

THE NEW 803 METROBUS: A BIG STEP UP IN THE RTC TRANSIT COMMISSION’S ONGOING PUSH TO IMPROVE BUS SERVICE IN THE CAPITAL REGION. 

We’ve got a new bus and Peter Stuart wants to tell you all about it:

I was riding home in my usual bus no. 274 from downtown to the Neufchâtel area of town after work recently. I almost always use transit when I work in town, except on some Saturdays when the expresses aren’t running, and traffic is lighter, I can use the car, and park at my regular job, and walk into the Old Town to give tours, which is my other job. 

In any case, not feeling like staring out the window, or looking like I was staring at my neighbour’s pink-coloured hair or nose ring, I picked up one of those free‘Voir’ tabloid newspapers that you see pretty much everywhere in town, especially in cafés and restaurants. This particular rag has a distinctly ‘pop cultural’ streak to it, and I often peruse it to get a feel for what the secular pop-cultural scene is dishing out in today’s world of ‘anything goes’-type of cultural landscape, which includes Goth music, Satanic Heavy Metal, Jazz, and all sorts of quasi-religious counter-cultural arty-farty types peddling their particular vision and version of institutionalized dissent and freedom of expression, all liberally subsidized by the taxpayer, at that. 

But I digress. I normally flip straight to Josée Legault’s column on roughly page 5, where she usually gives her usual incisive and often brutally frank and to the point take on the state of Québec and Canadian politics, especially from a secessionist’s point of view, of which she is one of many. Her take is usually bang on, even though I don’t agree with her vision for Canada’s future, she usually gets it right. But she’s been absent from the inner pages of Voir recently. So I was looking for something interesting that would tickle my fancy. BAM! There it was. An advert of all things! 

The RTC transit commission was announcing with much fanfare the inauguration of a new 800 series ‘Metrobus’-type of frequent bus called the 803. For those of you not familiar with our transit commission, we first got these 800 series frequent buses in the early 1990s, and they were a big success. They linked the entire west-east axis of the Upper Town along a common line where the 800-801 ran in synch with each other. Once they got downtown into the St. Roch Quarter, the 800 branched off and continued east bound to Beauport, and now goes all the way to Montmorency Falls, and the 801 continued northbound up to the Zoo. 

People loved it. The frequency was such that you never had to worry about when the bus was coming. Along the west-east axis it was every 5-7 minutes and elsewhere every 10-15 minutes, and the buses eventually became very large, modern articulated vehicles, which are very comfortable. A few years ago they added the 802 to link the upper town at the Belvedere transfer point to the Beauport Terminus transfer point via Hamel Boulevard, to provide a crucial frequent transit link along that busy artery, which includes such strategic commercial venues as the Fleur-de-Lys Mall and the Expo-Cité fairgrounds, which include the Colisée Pepsi hockey arena, Centre de Foire convention centre, and Ludoplex gambling centre. 

But something was missing. It was still fairly difficult to easily get to the Galeries de la Capitales Mall, which for years was almost impossible to get to by bus. You could tell that the designers of the mall had never envisioned anybody going there using transit. It was built with a huge parking lot in the middle of a huge field with almost nothing around it. But like they said in ‘Field of Dreams’: ‘Build it and they will come’. Soon the area started to develop around the mall, and there quickly began to be a parking problem as the IMAX cinema and amusement complex of indoor rides and skating rinks began to attract thousands of people. 

So the number 60 bus was put in between the Beauport and Les Saules Terminuses, with a stop at the Capitales Mall. You could hook up to the 801 with it. It was pretty good. But still not frequent enough to make taking it interesting. So now they’ve pulled the 60 and replaced it with the 803 frequent Metrobus between those two afore-mentioned stations, with a stop at the Capitales Mall! Cool! And it still hooks up with the 801 on 1st avenue, so getting the whole family to the Capitales Mall to play on the rides any day of the week is a cinch. You don’t have to go through the hassle of fighting with the parking line-ups off of the Robert Bourassa freeway on a Saturday when everybody and his neighbour takes their kids to the Capitales Mall to go on the rides. 

So another sign of how things are improving here in Québec city. A far cry from how it was 30-40 years ago. At that time we were having arguments over the size of English words on public signs, or whether there should be any English on signs at all, or whether ‘Hamburger’ should be spelled as is or spelled ‘Hambourgeois’, or whether we should leave Canada altogether. Apart from a few die-hards who’ve founded a group called the ‘Nouveau Mouvement pour le Québec’, and François Legault’s CAQ (Coalition pour l’Avenir du Québec), which is a pragmatic union between secessionists and federalists who want to solve current economic problems before embarking on any new secessionist debates, most people just want to be prosperous and get along with each other. 

For an uneventful bus ride home, picking up that free rag of a newspaper sure stirred up something inside of me! Long live transit! Forget about new Québec movements!

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About the author:


Peter Stuart is a freelance journalist and writer based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. He has a degree in Canadian Studies from the University of Ottawa.
He has written Op-Ed pieces for the last ten years for publications including: Le Soleil, La Presse, Quebec Chronicle Telegraph and Impact Campus.
Peter writes in both French and English, and is currently working on the publication of his first book. 
You can read more of Peter’s work by visiting his blog.
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