Montréal’s transit agency STM is the latest to introduce a frequent network brand for its buses. The Réseau 10 Minutes (“ten-minute network”) will consist of 11 all-day services running every 10 minutes or better. The excellent local urbanist blog Montréalites Urbaines (in French) has been following the story. Sadly, it is not yet highlighted on the network map, at least not the map for the central city, but these things usually happen in several steps as the idea slowly takes root in different parts of an agency.
[updated] They are also using a version of the brand to highlight 19 lines that are every 10 minutes in one direction only — one direction in the morning and the other direction in the afternoon. These lines will be frequent only if you’re making a round trip in a certain direction. It’s a curious exception. The real value of a Frequent Network brand comes from the ability to assure customers that they can build their lives around it, not just use it for commuting or for travel in a certain direction. While I advise clients not to make such compromises, it’s not surprising as a response to the fact that if you just show your network that runs frequently all day, you get a map of your inner city area only, because that’s where you have the density to support such service. Someday, I hope regional transit agencies will be able to have clear conversations with their constituents about why their service has to be much higher where densities are higher, but for now, many agencies feel unready to take on this battle given their own city’s political climate.
[updated] On the bright side, 10-minute frequency is an impressive threshhold. Even Los Angeles uses 12 minutes as its cutoff, and 15 is more typical. The duration, 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, is also impressive.
Still, it’s been done in North America, specifically in Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Portland. The idea is going to spread for the best of reasons: because it’s such a simple and powerful idea. Outside North America, I’m aware of Leeds, UK; Curitiba, Brazil; and Adelaide and Brisbane in Australia. If you know of others, I’d appreciate a comment and link so that I can promote these as well.