Thursday, 4 September 2008

No Smog in Montreal This Summer: Because of Rain or Transport Changes?

The Montréal region recorded no smog alerts during this past summer, compared to about a dozen the year before, Radio Canada reported this morning. All that rain and wind, said the spokesman for Environnement Canada. Pollutants didn’t have a chance to collect, stagnate and turn into the nasty pall that is so unhealthy, he said.

As I walked along this morning, watching the flotilla of bicycles going to work and school, I wondered if changes in transportation habits might also have something to do with it. Montréal’s public transit agency (the Société de transport de Montréal or STM) just reported an increase in ridership of 4 per cent between January and June, while friends who hadn’t been in Montreal for a couple of years this summer were bowled away the number of bikes on the streets.

All to the good, I say. Of course, it smelled at mid day yesterday of ozone and hydrocarbons the way remember from my Southern California childhood. But it didn’t last, and even though a heat haze covers the city this morning, we’re told it’s not smog. And the offer made by the public transport agency for the communities just north of Montreal island (the Société de transports de Laval, or STL) has run out: it promised a reduction in bus fares from $2.50 to $1 every day there was a smog alert between June 2 and September 2. A nice offer, but one it seems it didn’t have to honour.

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