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Transportation and Driving in Montreal

Living in Montréal is among the top choices for expats interested in Canada — although life in Montréal is still very different to life in, say, Toronto, due to Québec’s unique identity within the country. Our expatriate guide to Montréal gives you a first glimpse of what to expect!
Partaking in Montréal's rush hour traffic can be rather stressful.

Easy and Extensive: The Public Transportation System

Montréal boasts a modern network of underground trains, the Metro. Built following the example of the world-famous Parisian Metro, it was quickly emulated by others. The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is in charge of providing swift and affordable Metro services on a total of four lines with 68 stops, which can be found in most of the city’s neighborhoods. Some Metro stations can even be found in neighboring municipalities, for example three in Laval.

Apart from the metro system, Montréal is serviced by an extensive network of bus lines— more than 197 in total. If you like your nights out to end in the early hours, you can make use of one of the many nighttime bus lines. You’ll be able to find bus stops in every neighborhood and virtually every other street corner. In the somewhat rare cases where establishing a regular bus service simply is not feasible for whichever reason, the STM offers the taxibus as an alternative mode of transport.

On the website of the STM, you can find a trip planner, timetables, fare info, maps of the bus and metro systems, and needful information on any other topic related to their services.

It’s a Busy City, Drivers!

As you might have expected to find out about a city of its size, Montréal has its fair share of traffic congestion troubles, which can be experienced in their most annoying glory when using the bridges that connect the island with the mainland. The fact that Montréal is the hub of Québec’s Autoroute system of highways also plays a large part in exacerbating the problem. As in any other large metropolis around the globe, we’d like to suggest that you leave your car at home if there are other convenient options available to take you to work and back home.

Montréal’s streets are arranged in a grid that closely follows the natural shape of the island. The Main — which is the colloquial term for Saint Laurent Boulevard — splits streets into east and west parts. Streets which do not cross the Main generally do not have additional Est or Ouest demarcations. Directional terms such as east, west, south, and north do, however, not correspond to actual compass directions, as the Island of Montréal points toward the northwest.

You are allowed to use your original driver’s license for a period of six months after arrival in Montréal (provided you are settling there, not simply visiting), after which you need to exchange it for a Québec license should you want or need to drive in Montréal despite the traffic problems described above. Contact your nearest Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) to make an appointment, in the course of which you will find out whether you can simply exchange your old license for a local one, which is only possible for driver’s licenses issued in a small number of countries, or need to take a test. The SAAQ offers information for holders of foreign driver’s licenses on their website.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

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