Greater Montreal's VitalSigns 2007
Foundation of Greater Montreal's Website
Getting Around

Getting around in Montreal is less challenging than might be expected, given the size of its population. To cope with urban sprawl and the increase in motor vehicle traffic, however, the development of mass transit and “active transportation” (walking and biking) will have to be supported and encouraged.

  • Although Montreal ranks 16th among the 75 largest urban areas of North America by population, it is 40th in terms of traffic congestion, probably because it is a densely populated metropolitan area with a high rate of mass transit use and a significantly lower proportion of households with motor vehicles than in comparable American cities. 1
  • Among the 54,000 car travels which in 2003 were above the 1998 level, the majority (56%) were attributable to residents of North and South Shore communities; of the 26,000 additional travels by mass transit, the majority (58%) were by residents of the island. 2
  • In Montreal, 71.5% of households own at least one motor vehicle. However, the proportion of car owners in the most affluent districts is more than double the proportion in the poorest neighbourhoods, making residents of the latter more dependent on mass transit. 2
  • Shares of Households with Motor Vehicles Selected CMA districts, 2003
    source : Enquête O-D 2003 2
    The share of mass transit costs that is paid by users rose from 31.3% in 1991 to 40% in 2005.  When the bus-métro monthly pass (CAM) was introduced in 1980, its price was equivalent to 2.9% of the monthly income at the minimum wage. By 2006, that proportion had almost doubled to 5.6%. 2
  • The number of bicycle paths crossing the St. Lawrence, Ottawa, Mille Îles and des Prairies rivers has been increasing; today, there are eight shuttles and 15 bridges. However, some crossings are still difficult and most services are only operated on a seasonal basis. 3
  • There is wide recognition that wearing a safety helmet can prevent serious head injuries. Between 1993 and 2006, the use of safety helmets among Montreal cyclists almost doubled from 20.3% to 40%. However, men were less likely than women to wear a helmet (42% vs. 51 %), and 16-24 year-old riders were much less likely to do so than their elders (20% vs. 49%). Among skaters, the use of helmets was 11%. 4
  • Between 1999 and 2003, the proportion of Montreal cyclists under the age of 14 living in the poorest areas and requiring assistance from Urgences-santé was double that of their counterparts in the more affluent districts (4.4 per thousand vs. 2.1 per thousand). As for pedestrians in that age group, the proportion was nearly four times higher among the poorest (5.2 per thousand vs. 1.4 per thousand). 2

1 Louis Gourvil and Fannie Joubert, Évaluation de la congestion routière dans la région de Montréal. Socio-économie des transports, Ministère des Transports du Québec, 2004
(consulted on July 31, 2007)
US Bureau of the Census
2 Le transport urbain, une question de santé, Rapport annuel 2006 sur la santé de la population montréalaise, Direction de santé publique, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal, 2006
(consulted on July 31, 2007)
3 Ponts et traverses, site Internet de Vélo Québec
(consulted on July 31, 2007)
4 Mario Montégiani, Enquête 2006 sur le port du casque de sécurité, Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, November 2006
(consulted on July 31, 2007)