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Living in Montreal, Quebec's Suburbs Without A Car: Is I...

Living in Montreal, Quebec's Suburbs Without A Car: Is It Possible?

When families move to the suburbs, they don’t always calculate in the cost of the second car they will need for travel – unless, they decide to go without. Charles-Antoine could not imagine his life without two cars when he decided to move to Chambly, Quebec, Canada with his family. “I faced the traffic day

Mass transit Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When families move to the suburbs, they don't always calculate in the cost of the second car they will need for travel - unless, they decide to go without.

Charles-Antoine could not imagine his life without two cars when he decided to move to Chambly, Quebec, Canada with his family. "I faced the traffic day and night for four years. But when my partner lost her job, we were forced to give up one of our cars. I tried out mass transit, and it was a revelation."

With the improvement of mass transit services in the suburbs, more and more workers are choosing to abandon their cars. This avenue, which is both economical and environmentally-friendly, offers new possibilities for families who would like to leave Montreal for the suburbs.

An Economical Choice

Julie Dion, a professional and mother, moved to the suburbs and chose mass transit in order to save money. "The houses in Montreal seemed overpriced. So we decided to opt for a property in Longueil, a 15-minute walk from the subway. My partner drives, and I bike to the subway. In this way, I save on the cost of buying a car, gasoline, parking, and maintenance costs." Charles-Antoine believes that he saves around $6,000 per year by using mass transit. "It's almost a second income. It helps us a lot financially."

Longer Trips

But in order to save, it is often necessary to be prepared to put in the time. Maryse Lamerre, who lives in Sainte-Julie, has been using mass transit exclusively for 20 years. "In my case, it's a lifestyle choice because I never liked driving. But it's often hard: the trip between Montreal and Sainte-Julie can take almost 1.5 hours, when you take into consideration that it would only take 35 minutes by car in light traffic. And subway breakdowns have become more frequent these last few years."

Central Station Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Reconciling work and family is also complicated. "I am never at home in the morning because I leave very early, and in the evenings, I am rushing to pick up my kids from kindergarten," explains Charles-Antoine. "Fortunately, moving to the suburbs has allowed me to get closer to my wife's family, and they can help me out when I need it."

An Environmentally Friendly and Active Solution

For Charles-Antoine and Julie, taking mass transit is a chance to take care of themselves and the planet. "In the winter, I walk all the way to the subway twice a day, and in the summer, I go to work on my bike. This way, I make room for exercise in my life. I also feel that I am doing my part for the environment."

Like Julie, Charles-Antoine jumps on his bike as soon as there is nice weather. And from November to May, he uses the 2.5 hours spent daily on mass transit to read and rest. "In Chambly, we have commuter buses with wireless Internet. It's comfortable and much less stressful than the car."

Nonetheless, mass transit is strictly reserved for suburbanites who have regular work hours because mass transit schedules are not very flexible. "If I were working in the evening or at night, it would basically be impossible," maintains Annie Riverin, who travels each day to Beloeil in Montreal. "If I miss my train, I have to wait half an hour to take the next one."

A Way of Life

Despite these inconveniences, Charles-Antoine would never go back to the car. "I would not give it up, it's become a real lifestyle. In the end, it's a way of making time for me."

Are you considering getting rid of one of your cars, or both? Do public transportation and biking infrastructure options in your area make this feasible? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.

Original article, originally published in French on Canoe, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Bora Mici has a background in design and online writing. Most recently, she has worked as an online contributor for DC Mud, Patch.com, GoodSpeaks.org and WatchingAmerica.com, covering urban planning and visual and performing arts in the Washington, D...

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