Montreal - Getting In & Around
Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport (airport code: YUL), formerly Dorval Airport, is about half an hour west of the city center on highway 20. Taxi fare to and from downtown is a fixed price of $35 (a sticker on the window behind the driver gives the boundaries of the zone where the flat fare applies; for origins and destinations outside this zone, you will have to pay a metered fare). The Aérobus is a shuttle running from Dorval to a station at 777 de la Gauchetière West about once every half hour from 7AM to 1AM. Tickets are $13. Alternatively, public bus no. 204 leaves every half hour to Gare Dorval (Dorval train station), where bus no. 211/221 can be caught to the metro (subway). This costs only $2.50 but exact change must be provided and the trip is about 20 minutes.
Montreal has a second airport, Mirabel, about an hour north of the city center. It has been exclusively a cargo terminal since October, 2004.
• From Toronto, take Highway 401 east for about 6 hours until it becomes Autoroute 20 on the Quebec side of the border. Highway 20 takes about an hour to get to downtown. Be alert for frequent speed-limit changes along this road. To reach downtown follow the Centre-Ville signs and take Highway 720 (Highway 20 continues over the Pont Champlain bridge to the South Shore).
• From Ottawa, it's about 2 hours east along Highway 417 (which becomes the 40 in Quebec) to Montreal.
• From Quebec City, it's about 2.5-3.5 hours west on either Highway 40 or 20.
• From New York City, take Interstate Freeway 87 north through Albany and the eastern half of New York State for about six hours. After the border crossing near Plattsburgh, the freeway becomes Highway 15, which leads directly into downtown Montreal over the Pont Champlain — the most beautiful approach to the city.
• From Boston, take Interstate Highway 93 to Highway 89 in Concord, New Hampshire, through Vermont to the border crossing near Burlington, where it turns into Highway 133 which intersects Highway 10, which taken west leads directly into downtown Montreal. The whole trip takes about 6-7 hours.
• Montreal Central Station is at 895 rue De La Gauchetière Ouest, one block west of rue University.
• VIA Rail Canada operates trains from several Canadian cities into Montreal. From Toronto, trains leave daily for the five-hour trip to Montreal about every 2 hours from 7AM to midnight, with adult economy round-trip fare running about $160. The train's first class car is equipped with WiFi service for those computer nuts wanting to stay in touch. There's also a regular train from Quebec City, leaving four times a day, taking about three hours. Other trains run to and from the Maritimes and various destinations in the Gaspé Peninsula.
• Amtrak's Adirondack service from New York's Penn Station takes about 10 hours, leaving at 9:45AM and arriving after 7PM. The train passes through much of upstate New York and hugs Lake Champlain for a large part of the trip. Amtrak also offers a Thruway Motor Coach connection from Montreal to St-Albans, Vermont, where the "Vermonter" service begins and runs through Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, to Washington DC. The full trip from Montreal to Washington is about 14 hours. Fares are competitive with Greyhound. Departs once daily, see schedule .
• Greyhound Canada , Coach Canada , Orleans Express and other intercity bus companies serve Montreal from Station Centrale at 505 boulevard De Maisonneuve Est, (metro Berri-UQÀM ). Call 514-842-2281 for schedules and prices.
Montreal is divided east-west by boulevard Saint-Laurent. Numbered addresses start there and increase in either direction; most addresses are given as "rue Saint-Quelqu'un Ouest" (west) or "rue Saint-Quelqu'un Est" (east). Many streets are named after Catholic saints and figures from local history, both well-known and obscure.
Walking is a favored way to get around the densely-packed downtown and the narrow streets of the Old Port, especially during the warmer months. Sidewalks are icy and hazardous during the winter except on a few major streets. Jaywalking is the rule and laws against it are not enforced, but be aware that drivers will usually not stop or slow down if a pedestrian steps out in front of them. Prince Arthur Street east of St. Laurent is pedestrian-only. A good trick for navigating downtown Montreal is to remember that streets will slope up towards the North.
Driving (SAAQ ) in Montreal can be a bit of a hassle. The severe winters take their toll on the roadways, which are either heavily potholed or subject to perpetual construction. Downtown traffic is dense, and street parking is rare and subject to byzantine restrictions and regulations (tourists are well-advised to consult with a local on whether a particular spot is legal). Many downtown streets are one-way, which can complicate navigation. If you see a sign at an intersection that has direction arrows in a green circle, that means those are the only directions you are allowed to go; many left turns are prohibited. Freeways can also be difficult for visitors, as signage can be somewhat cryptic or ill-placed and on-ramps are sometimes much shorter than elsewhere in North America. Also, there is no right turn on red lights on the island of Montreal.
Cycling and in-line skating ('rollerblading') are very popular once the cold winter weather is over. The city is criss-crossed by 660km of well-maintained cycle paths, including some which cross the St. Lawrence onto the island, such as over the Jacques Cartier bridge. Outside of these paths the potholes and generally rather manic driving style do not encourage the self-powered visitor. If one is comfortable driving in Montreal, one generally can feel comfortable biking there as well. While wearing a helmet is not required under the law, it is highly recommended. Skate and bike hire shops are common, particularly in the Old Port and the Plateau. Visit La Masion des Cyclistes (the cyclists's house) at 1251 rue Rachel Est for all info on cycling in Montreal. (See Do for specific bike paths)
By metro or bus
The public transit system, run by Société de transport de Montréal (STM), is safe, efficient and pleasant to use. Tickets valid for unlimited use of the metro and buses during one and a half hours are $2.50, and available for about 25% discount in strips (lisières) of six. Tourist passes offer unlimited travel on the bus and metro for periods of one day or three days. They are available from most downtown metro stations during the summer, but only at Berri-UQAM and Bonaventure stations on the off-season. Transit passes are also available for periods of a week (CAM hebdo) or a month (CAM mensuelle).
The STM website offers a trip-planner service called Tous azimuts . For instructions on how to use the metro, see Metro FAQ at metrodemontreal.com . For a map of the metro, see Montreal Metro at Wikipedia .
Montreal also has a commuter train system run by Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT), and many find the ticketing system rather confusing. Commuter train stations are divided among various zones based on their distance from downtown. Stations have automated machines from which you must purchase a ticket appropriate to the zones of the station you are travelling to or from, whichever is farther (e.g. a trip from Zone 3 to Zone 1 or vice versa would require a Zone 3 ticket.)
Trips in zones 1 and 2 can be reduced in price if you have an STM transfer from the city bus or metro. You must then purchase the tarif combiné ticket at a lower cost. In general, reduced fares (for students and seniors) require ID that is not available to travellers.
There are no ticket machines on the train. A security agent sweeps the train on occasion looking for infractions. If the incorrect zone is typed in, the customer can get a fine of up to $400. In some cases, incorrect tickets will go unnoticed because the security agents pass through only occasionally. In most cases the fine is $100. Instructions for paying are clearly displayed in French only. To further confuse things, payment procedures are often changed or updated.
Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License
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