How do you think public transit could make the metropolitan area more attractive and improve its residents’ quality of life in 2050?


What best describes where you live?


A collection of routes offering a level of service that can influence how the territory is organized – by cultivating urban densification, for example. This network also plays a key role in how all public transit for a region is organized.

Number of inhabitants per km2.

Number of employees per km2.

Street design is the framework for a city. It is made up of orthogonal or winding streets, different forms and sizes of islands as well as plots of land with various sizes of buildings on them.

Autorité régionale
de transport métropolitain

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A dynamic, multifaceted region

The Montréal metropolitan area at a glance

The metropolitan area of Montréal covers a territory of 4,000 km2, and is home to around 4 million people; this amounts to, 48% of the total population of Québec. According to demographic prospects from the Institut de la statistique du Québec, it is estimated that 500,000 more people will live in the area in 2031, which represents a 12% increase over today.

This dynamic region offers residents an exceptional quality of life. In fact, Montréal is often cited as one of the best cities in the world to live, and ranked fifth among North American cities for attracting the most foreign investment in 2017-2018 (American Cities of the Future 2017/18 rankings). In 2016, there were 1.8 million jobs here — a 6.3% increase since 2006.

Residents of the region take part in a wide range of activities; as a result, they must make daily trips between municipalities, whether for work, study or social activity. The regional transportation system is therefore essential to both Montréal’s economic development and the quality of life of its inhabitants.

Many governing bodies, including different levels of government, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal and the ARTM are working together on planning a regional transportation system that will be taking into account major sociodemographic trends. This plan requires the input of municipalities, businesses and citizens across the region– whether they use public transit services or not – in order to define mobility needs as a whole for residents. Because the resulting vision of the city is so closely linked to the local character, it is crucial that this is integrated into the planning.

Metropolitan area of Montréal

Metropolitan area of Montréal

The ARTM territory is made up of 82 municipalities of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, the Kahnawake First Nations reserve and the city of Saint-Jérôme.

ARTM territory Enlarge

Geographical challenges and constraints

The Montréal metropolitan region was developed on a site that features natural elements such as the St. Lawrence River, Rivière des Prairies, Mount Royal and major protected natural and agricultural areas. Transportation infrastructures such as bridges and tunnels allow people to overcome these natural barriers, but they also create crossing points when travelling on our road networks. These can turn into bottlenecks, as evidenced by the heavier traffic when approaching bridges, themselves already often used to the point of saturation. On a local level, transportation infrastructures such as bridges, interchanges or even railroads can become barriers for local trips.

So, how can we remove these barriers and improve efficiency of infrastructures and flow of traffic? Developing infrastructures and services dedicated to public transportation is a possible solution. The reserved bus lanes on the Champlain Bridge — which will soon make room for the Réseau express métropolitain — is an excellent example of capacity optimization. In fact, 18,000 people take public transit to downtown Montréal every morning on the reserved bus-lane, compared to 15,000 car drivers that use the other two lanes in the same direction.

Challenges and realities of the region’s sectors must be taken into account when planning mobility for the metropolitan region. The plan also needs to integrate transportation facilities, both in the region’s neighbourhoods as in its outer areas to provide residents and workers with the best mobility options possible.

Constraints of the territory Enlarge

Uneven demographic growth

In 2016, the population of the Montréal metropolitan region was nearly 4 million inhabitants, an increase of 10% or 350,000 inhabitants in 10 years. This demographic growth, however, is uneven; some of the region’s sectors experienced a considerable boom whereas others remained stable during this period.


Source: Statistic Canada 2006 and 2016, ARTM table
Total population in 2016: 3.9 M (100%)
Population growth for the entire region between 2006 and 2016: 9,8%.
Population growth between 2006 and 2016: 351 034 (100%)
Totals may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Although 50% of the population in the metropolitan area lived on the island of Montréal in 2016, this sector accounts for only 25% of the regional growth since. The demographics of the outer suburbs — which represents 51% of growth since 2006 — is becoming increasingly important. If estimates for the next decade hold true, we will continue to witness demographic growth in these sections based on similar rhythms and dynamics.

Population growth in these large, low density areas that are less conducive to sustainable mobility has an impact on transportation systems and mobility. This must be kept in mind when developing transportation projects adapted to this reality.

An aging population is another factor to consider, especially in the metropolitan area, since the segment of individuals 65 and over will increase from 16% to 22% of the total population between 2016 and 2031.

This growth will be even more pronounced outside the island of Montréal. The growth rate for the population in the outer suburbs is expected to nearly double that of the island of Montréal. To ensure the elderly remain socially active and do not become isolated, we need to develop a public transportation system that provides service to primary hubs of activity, improve service outside rush hour and implement universal accessibility.

Growth expected per age group and by sector between 2016 and 2031

Mobility that supports economic activity

The different sectors of the region are defined by distinct and complementary functions. Travel routes and distances are influenced by the concentration of activity such as housing, employment, industry, business, services and leisure. From 1998 to 2013, the average distance traveled in the metropolitan region increased from 6.3 to 7 kilometres, for a growth of 11%.

At the regional level, an efficient public transportation system has huge appeal and tangible spin-offs. Job sectors that can be easily accessed and the fluid transit of goods and people especially influence an economy’s dynamism. These factors also considerably reduce traffic congestion, which ensures better air quality, less time dedicated to travel, and more.

For instance, every weekday morning during rush hour 230,000 workers commute to downtown Montréal. This flow of people is successfully managed thanks to dynamic and efficient public transportation networks. Developing attractive public transit projects that improve services to high-density sectors is crucial to meeting the region’s urban planning goals.

Employment hubs

In 2016, there were 1.8 million jobs in the metropolitan area. The core of the Montréal agglomeration - including downtown - was home to 750,000 of these jobs; in other words, more than 40% of jobs in total, making it the region’s leading economic hub. Job growth, however, is stronger outside the Montréal Agglomeration, in both percentage and volume: as many jobs are now created in each one of these outer suburbs as at the core of the agglomeration. There has also been an increase in jobs in Laval and in the agglomeration of Longueuil.

Because of the appeal of the core of the Montréal agglomeration, being able to access it remains one of the region’s key mobility concerns. Efficient public transportation relies on a relatively vast and structural transit network that can provide service to many of the region’s high-density areas. Moreover, job growth outside the Montréal agglomeration has created increased trips within and to these sectors and reduces the flow of commuters traveling to the core area. This creates a new travel dynamic toward employment hubs that are not served as well by the public transportation system. This must be taken into account in the planning stages of the network’s development projects.


Data in % represents the number of new jobs in the region for each sector
Totals may not add up to 100% because of the rounding.
Job growth between 2006 and 2016 (Number of jobs):108 980 (100%) Source: Statistic Canada 2006-2016, ARTM table

For me, getting around on bike with my daughter is fun and practical.

Catherine, Varennes

Diversified urban environments

The urban environments where people live have an impact on mobility. Residential density, the concentration of jobs and the diversity of local services and businesses nearby are important factors.

There are three types of sectors in the metropolitan region:

Dense and diversified urban neighbourhoods

These are the region’s densest neighbourhoods, both in number of inhabitants and jobs or variety of activities offered. They have multiple uses: residences, offices, businesses and services on a local and regional scale. Residents of these neighbourhoods travel shorter distances daily. Street design in these neighbourhoods is usually very regular, dense and well connected. In general, buildings face the street and many types of dwellings exist: apartment towers and small buildings where most dwellings are located as well as row or detached houses. These neighbourhoods have stable demographic growth, with the exception of downtown in the Montréal agglomeration, which has experienced significant residential growth over the past few years. These neighbourhoods represent 15% of the demographic growth since 2006.

Developing urban neighbourhoods

These sectors are located at the perimeter of dense and diversified urban neighbourhoods. Some denser, mixed-use hubs that are more urban in character exist, but they are surrounded by less densely-populated residential streets. There are business and services here, most of which can be only accessed by car. These areas are also important job hubs, particularly because of major industrial parks that employ significant numbers of people. Residents of these neighbourhoods take medium-distance trips daily. Depending on the sector, the street design often features regular perpendicular lanes, but most are winding. Buildings are often set back from the streets, creating a sense of space. All types of dwellings are found here, but most are row and detached houses. Redevelopment of these neighbourhoods has made them even denser and more diversified. Since 2006, they have accounted for 34%.

Booming suburban neighbourhoods

These neighbourhoods are experiencing the fastest demographic growth in the region. They are characterized by low-density buildings and streets and are further away from dense and diversified urban neighbourhoods. Businesses and services are not located close to dwellings and job hubs are generally more dispersed. Residents of these neighbourhoods must make longer trips to carry out their day-to-day activities. The street design of these sectors is generally irregular and buildings – chiefly townhouses and detached houses – are built back from the street on large lots. These neighbourhoods have accounted for 50% of the demographic growth since 2006.

Population density in 2016 (people/km2)


Source: Statistic Canada 2016

Average distance travelled between home and daily activities.
Sector/Average distance home-activities (km)


The denser and more diverse a neighborhood is, the closer activities are to home.
Source: Statistiques Canada (2016)

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