Quebec City Transit 101 !

Before we start: There is a couple things you should know before reading this tutorial

  • First, English is not my natural language, so be advised the're gonna be mistake all over the place
  • Second, information is accurate at the time this help guide was written … things will change but i try to keep up this page up to date.
  • Finally, the motivation behind this page is the lack of printed and/or web information for english speaking people for using transit in Quebec City by the Réseau de Transport de la Capitale. So i decided to fill in the gap on this matter.

Welcome to Quebec City, if you're a tourist searching for transit information or a new resident of the city, this guide will help you navigating around the transit system serving Quebec City.

Réseau de Transport de la Capitale (RTC) is the municipal corporation in charge of transit within the city limits. The service cover most of the urban territory of Quebec City and under contract, serves the city of Boischatel, Ancienne-Lorette, Wendake, Shannon and the Valcartier military base.  Service de Transport Adapté de la Capitale (STAC) is the authority assuring paratransit service in Quebec City.

In this guide, we're gonna talk about available services, tips to plan a trip, buying fares and finally information available before and during your trip.

1 – Services

RTC offers many types of transit services

The Metrobus (green M logo) is RTC version of rapid transit, the line 800 to 803 are circulating on limited stops service, on many km of HOV lanes with service every 10 minutes or better between 7am and 7pm during weekdays. Early morning, weeknights, week-end and holidays, service is every 15 minutes.

Le Bus (blue B logo) is the local transit service serving all parts of Quebec City. Most of the route are in service 7 days of week (through some routes are rush hours only). Take note that routes in the 100 series are limited stop bus and are in service only weekdays rush hour.

eXpress service (orange X logo) is linking residential area to three specific area

The 200 series links suburbs to downtown Quebec City, the 300 series links suburbs to Sainte-Foy schools (CEGEP and Laval university), the 500 series links suburbs to Sainte-Foy shopping and workplace area (Laurier boulevard)

Service operates to Downtown / Sainte-Foy during the morning rush and to suburbs during the afternoon.
Take note also that in the morning, only boarding is allowed in the suburbs and unloading is only permitted in downtown / Sainte-Foy. The reverse on the afternoon rush hour.

Ecolobus (light blue e logo) is RTC fully electric route, operated by small electric minibus, this route serves the parliament hill, the old city and the docks area. Service is very frequent although a maximum of 21 persons can board the bus at the same time.

Couche-tard (late night) is a special service offered on some routes  on Friday and Saturday night to bring customers and party goers home late at night.

An Metrobus service articuled bus

A regular RTC bus operating on eXpress service 530

An ecolobus electric vehicule

2- Plan a trip

They are many way to plan a trip … but first, if you are new to the RTC, take note of this number, 418-627-2511. This is the customer service hotline number, they are open for your call 6:30am to 10pm on weekdays and from 8am to 10pm on week-ends.

To plan a trip, the best way for new customers is … Google MAPS … surprise … nah !. RTC schedule is integrated into google maps so it's for me the easiest way to plan a trip.

If you don't have access to the internet, ask your hotel clerk or better, call customer service, they will help you finding your way.

Before taking your trip, they are some other tools we need to talk about.

Websitehttp://www.rtcquebec.ca is the official website of the RTC. And of course it's all in French (it's why you're reading this guide right !). They have also a mobile website at m.rtcquebec.ca

Text message: Send (route number) (stop number) to 72511. In return the RTC will send you the schedule for the next 3 bus at that stop. For example, you want the schedule for bus route 18 at stop 2655, you would text 18 2655 at 72511.

Information screen: At a few stops, information screen will give you the next 3 scheduled bus for each route serving this stop.

Application: RTC Mobile is the official smartphone application, the app is usable off line. They are available for IPhone and Android.

Paper schedule: RTC paper schedule are available at RTC information and service center (all routes), at fare sales point (routes of the area). Take note that they are issued in limited numbers (but if you have a smart phone, download the app !)
 

3- Fares

So you know how to plan your trip, now let's talk how you're gonna pay for it.

They are many way to pay your fare.

But fist … three details

  • Kids 5 and under always travel free.
  • Reduced fare are available for 18 years old and younger, 65 and older and for full time students, call RTC for details on how to obtain a reduced fare OPUS. (if you're a tourist, this is not an option).
  • On week-end , holidays and some school break weeks, transit is free for 3 kids (6 to 11 years old) for each adult paying fare.

Cash : Insert the exact amount  in the farebox when boarding the bus. If you need to transfer to another bus route during you're journey, ask the driver for a transfer when boarding.It's valid for 90 minutes on all other routes except the one you've start you're journey. Take note while Ecolobus cash fare is cheaper, it doesn't give transfer, also take not you cannot board an Ecolobus with a paper transfer.

For all other fares, they are offered on two type of smart card, the OPUS card and the Occasionelle card.

Carte Opus

The OPUS card is the reusable smart card on which not only RTC fares can be loaded, it can be loaded with fares of all the Quebec province transit authority participating in the OPUS program. The standard card cost 6$ (2014 price) while the reduced fare card (with picture) cost about 15$. This card can be registered to his owner so the card can be replaced if it's lost or stolen. Take note that all reduced fare must be loaded on a OPUS Card.
The Occasionnelle card is a smart card that must be trashed after use. This card is free to get, cannot be only loaded once for fares and offer no protection in case of lost of theft. This card don't offer all the fares that can be loaded on an Opus card. This card is the perfect card for punctual transit use.

Now let's look at the other fares
 

Category of fares Description Reduced fare available Available on
      Carte Opus
Tickets Good for one continuous trip, two hours transfer privilege granted on each tickets. Must be bought by lot of two (2), maximum 24 on OPUS, 12 on Occasionelle Yes Full and reduced fare Full fare only
Day pass Good for unlimited travel during one day. Valid from activation until 4:00am the next day No No Yes
Two day     pass Good for unlimited travel during two days. Valid from activation until 11:59pm the second day, No No Yes
Seven day pass Good for unlimited travel during a week. Valid from activation until 11:59pm the seventh day. Yes Full and reduced fare Full fare only
Monthly pass Good for unlimited travel during a calendar month. Also grant free access to the Quebec city – Levis ferry. Yes Full and reduced fare No

You can buy fares at over 220 locations scattered around the Quebec City area. List of retailers can be found here (search by postal code or see all the list of the retail list) Take note that no smart card can be bought aboard buses. While all sales point offer standard OPUS and Occasionnelle smart card, take note that only service and information center produce reduced fare OPUS (with picture)

4 – At the stop and boarding the bus

The first encounter at the bus stop will be course, the bus flag. On the two models of flags RTC use, you will find those information

  • The stop number
  • All the routes serving this stop and their final destination
  • Customer service phone number and website address.

On the newer flags, you will also find those information

  • Accessibility of the stop for wheelchair
  • Accessible routes serving this stop
  • Number for the text message service.

Another thing you will find at many busy stop is a or many panels for the most populars
routes at that particular stops. Each panel features one route schedule for that stop and
a route diagram of that particular route.

When the bus arrive, always check for the following

  • It is the bus i need to take, if the route has an X at the end, it's mean that this bus will probably turn short of his route final terminal. So check with the driver if the bus will stop where you want to go
  • Have you exact change ready or your smart card in your hand.
  • Signal your intention to the driver to board his bus.
  • Step back a couple feet from the curb as the bus approach.

When boarding the bus

  • Say Hello to the driver (they see hundreds of people a day … please be friendly !)
  • If paying cash, insert the exact cash in the farebox, ask for transfer if needed.
  • If paying with smartcard, pass your card over the fare validator, a green light (or yellow for reduced fare) will tell you that you've payed you're fare.

     

     

     

    An OPUS Reader
    An smart card reader, seen here at the Quebec City – Levis ferry
  • Advance to the back of the bus, relax and enjoy your trip.