Students just don’t riot like they used to

Transit fares in Montreal used to spark riots, these days they spark letter writing

The Montreal Gazette’s transit reporter, Andy Riga, has an interesting side note to the recent story about a Concordia student who is calling for Montreal’s public transit corporation, the STM, to extend discounted fares to all students. Currently, university students who are over 25 have to pay full price.

While Desea Trujillo is writing letters to the STM, students had some different tactics in 1955: they rioted, burning over 100 streetcars and buses.

The issues were a little different back then, students were upset that streetcar fares were rising by 2.5 cents.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend this tactic, university students were calling for discounted fares at least as far back as 1950. They didn’t get them until 2002.

There’s also a bit of a new development to the story, the Concordia Student Union, along with some affiliated student groups, entered into talks with the STM this fall, looking to implement a “u-pass.” Transit fares would be tacked on to student fees but all students, regardless of age, would get the discount. But these talks fell apart, apparently, because such a high percentage of students already take public transit the STM wouldn’t have much to gain.

It’s worth noting that Montreal’s regular monthly pass is still cheaper than a student pass in Toronto but that’s a cold comfort.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.