Updates from January, 2023 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 15:51 on 2023-01-08 Permalink | Reply  

    A La Presse writer spars with a QMI piece that claimed it was cheaper to run a car than take the metro. Nicolas Bérubé makes calculations and demolishes the argument.

    • DeWolf 19:55 on 2023-01-08 Permalink

      Drivers like to conveniently forget about the totality of expenses involved with owning a car. Loan or lease payments, gas, insurance, registration, maintenance. It’s a lot.

      At the same time, public transit feels like bad value for anyone who doesn’t have a monthly pass. This week I’ve made a number of short Communauto trips — equivalent to a three-stop metro trip — recently that have ended up being $2 or $3. That’s cheaper than if I had taken the bus or metro, which doesn’t really make sense to me.

      The ARTM has just spent a lot of time and money overhauling its fare structure without doing anything to accommodate the new reality of hybrid work and part-time transit users. The STM is slowly implementing a contactless tap system, meaning people can just use their credit cards instead of loading tickets onto an Opus card, but what would really help is if this was combined with a daily cap like they have in London, so you know you can use the bus or metro as much as you like without exceeding a certain amount of money every day.

    • Em 10:41 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

      Over 10 years ago my father said he calculated the cost of keeping his car going at about $100 a week. No payments, just gas, maintenance, insurance, tires and tire changes, oil changes, registration.

      I thought he was nuts but I did the calculation on my own (old but very reliable) car, and he was right. It’s probably more than that now, for someone who uses their car regularly. Our climate and roads are hard on cars.

      But taking transit can feel high on a per-trip cost, especially if you’re a family.

    • Kevin 10:54 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

      It’s like calculating the cost of a house by assuming it’s just the mortgage, while ignoring the down payment, utilities, and the maintenance and repairs.

      I learned last year that flat roofs cost a lot more than shingles on a sloped house.

    • Blork 11:34 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

      Generally speaking, these analyses can be fun and in some cases informative, but there are so many factors involved that they’re rarely conclusive.

      In this particular case it’s fairly easy, because the person said they bought a SECOND car specifically for driving to work, so that’s a pretty easy and direct calculation. But it’s misleading if the person only has one car and they use it for other things (vs. a car dedicated to one job — commuting).

      There’s a lot to be said about utility and not just cost, in terms of what is more practical overall. The answer depends on where the person lives and what goes on in their lives. For example, a person who lives on the Plateau and doesn’t venture out of the city very often wouldn’t get much utility out of a car, and the annoyances would quickly outweigh the benefits, so the extra expense doesn’t make sense.

      On the other hand, someone who lives on the south shore and has one car, and who goes skiing in Bromont every weekend in winter, and who brings the kids for dinner at Grandma’s place in Valleyfield every Thursday, and frequently takes the whole family over to Wellington for an afternoon of shopping and hanging out on the riverside, etc. etc. would get a lot of extra utility out of that car that isn’t just a matter of comparing direct financial costs.

      Or as Kevin, says, when looking at the cost of a house, there are all sorts of things to consider. He mentions financial things that you might not think of before buying, but there are also other forms of “value.” For example if you compare buying a condo to living in cheap motels for five years where you have to move every week then obviously the money difference isn’t the only consideration.

      Blah blah blah, there are no clear-cut easy answers.

    • Spi 12:35 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

      It’s always a pointless exercise in lazy back of the envelope math, you can construct your examples in an endless amount of ways to make whichever position you want come out ahead. All these articles ever do is show the built in preference and biases of the people commenting. Even when the analysis and comparison is done objectively and with care all you end up with is a comparative that’s only applicable to a single situation.

      That wasn’t the case here, first Bérubé characterized the person as a woman from Longueuil purchasing a second car solely to commute. That’s not the case, if you go back to the original QMI article she’s clearly quoted as saying “On a acheté une deuxième voiture avec la pandémie, à cause de ça,”. On as in us the household. So already it’s not nearly as unusual a case, so the assumption that a new car is purchased doesn’t hold. A person that admittedly says they don’t need the second car is going to go out and purchase a brand new one just for commuting 3 days a week when the increase fare is one of the stated reasons for the switch? Really that makes sense to Bérubé?

      I won’t even get into the bullshit about bringing in potential returns had the money been put into a TFSA. One doesn’t preclude the other, and there are some assumption made to get to the his headline figure that aren’t sound especially if you’re going to tout your columns being about “making money work for you”


    • Blork 14:53 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

      Spi, you’re right that with the thing abut potential returns, one option does not exclude the other (i.e., you can buy a car/house and STILL invest money in a TFSA or whatever) but the thinking is usually presented as if the more expensive option is your upper limit for spending. As in, let’s say you have $400 a month to spend on transport. Do you spend $200 on a transit pass and taxis and invest the other $200 or do you spend the whole $400 on a car? The problem with that thinking is that even if people take the cheaper option, most WON’T put the extra on an investment because we are all flawed humans.

      That doesn’t mean people don’t save money, but we rarely do it by that formula. While the transit scenario is not great because the car option really is money out the window, where it gets interesting is in the “buy vs. rent” argument, where (for example) you can rent a place for $1500 a month and invest $500 every month, or you can buy and pay $2000 a month in mortgage and other costs. Which is better? Calculations on that are all over the place, but most of them ignore the fact that most people who choose the rent option probably won’t put that $500 a month aside every month for 25 years. The “buy” option in that case is sort of a forced savings.

      Side note for anyone in their 30s reading this: SAVE THAT MONEY. You will not regret putting aside as much as you comfortably can every month. Trust me on this. No one has ever regretted hitting the end of middle age and seeing the results of 20+ years of savings put aside. I wish that lesson had been clearer to me when I was in my 30s.

    • jeather 15:17 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

      I do want to point out that there is a time cost to public transit. If you have limited time, you can spend the 200 on public transit — but then maybe you’re going to have to spend that other 200/month on premade food.

      As I keep banging on about, the STM is not really very friendly — or reasonably priced — for occasional users.

  • Kate 15:44 on 2023-01-08 Permalink | Reply  

    This story is seeping into all our media, so although this is more PR than news, here goes: Nike is about to release a sneaker whose design is based on the Montreal sesame bagel. A pair will set you back $120.

    • Kate 11:41 on 2023-01-08 Permalink | Reply  

      A group called the Red Coalition is demanding a public inquiry into the death of Nicous D’Andre Spring at Bordeaux jail on Christmas eve. They also want relevant video to be released.

      • Kate 11:06 on 2023-01-08 Permalink | Reply  

        Brief opinion piece in Le Devoir makes a good case for saving church buildings as community assets.

        • Ephraim 18:10 on 2023-01-08 Permalink

          Ah yes, badly insulated buildings with weird configurations should be used for community service buildings by groups that have difficulty to pay for heating and maintenance…. really? You can knock it down, put up a better building and use geothermal heating and cooling as well as insulation and run it for much longer at a cheaper price

        • Kate 22:25 on 2023-01-08 Permalink

          Ephraim, a couple of months ago I made a not dissimilar argument and DeWolf countered the idea, saying Montreal without its many church spires would not be the same.

          I’ve thought about that since. Ephraim, you’re right about the superiority of modern construction, but here’s the thing: these buildings already exist and many of them have been used for community purposes for a century. What’s the likelihood of getting decrepit churches taken down, not for profit, but in order to construct community centres for the general good?

        • Ephraim 11:48 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

          Let’s look at the other side of it. The church building represents something and if you are not of the faith it may not be positive. But it’s really a weirdly configured building and has height which makes it even worse for heating… you have to heat all the air above before you start to really feel warm. But also the land… You can also build other things into the space, like social housing above it. You can build different size spaces and community usage spaces. For example, you can configure offices for different community groups but have a shared kitchen and a shared banquet hall that you can rent out.

          I know we have a tendency in Quebec to treat buildings as if they are there, we might as well use them. Which leads to having some weird unusable buildings in Montreal. How many old McDonald’s locations are now being used and are still identifiable. We are so reluctant to do anything with an existing building that at the corner of Atateken and St-Catherine there is a store that sat empty for more than 10 years and I think the latest incarnation is a fabric store. Across the street from a bank in a Consumer’s Distributing spot that was a La Belle Province.

          Corner of Cote-St-Catherine and Decarie there was a BMO, it’s been empty for at least 20 years, if not more. Recently, someone started reconfiguring the building…. and yet, if they had knocked it down years ago, they could have built a 10 to 15 story apartment building that is right in the path of public transit and a walkable distance to a metro station.

          And how about the building that was one a flea market on Decarie. Then it was empty for years. Eventually Insight used it. Now I think it’s used by Shaw. Dupuis almost all the way to Isabella… Again in a great location for public transit, a few streets away from Queen Mary metro station and it’s being used as office space because it’s so purpose built no one could figure out what to do with it. And let’s move up Decarie to Wellstead… empty building. The next block has a giant closed post office and then just up the street from Snowdown, another empty building with a parking lot next to it.

          And I’m sure that many other people can point out buildings sitting empty in Montreal because they were purpose built and we are too scared to knock them down and put up something useful. Maybe what we need is a tax credit to knock down some of these buildings if you put up rental stock.

        • Kate 12:16 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

          Ephraim, you’re right about a lot of this. In my immediate neighbourhood, there’s a huge church building on Crémazie, decommissioned, but not much use for anything else. This was one of the last big classical churches built here, 1931, but after the Met was built right in its face and people stopped going to Mass, it became a white elephant.

          A few years ago there was a guy who thought of trying to convert it to a sort of cafe-theatre – Crémazie is not the most inviting street, but this building is steps away from Crémazie metro station, so it’s easy to get to. As I recall, the borough said he would have to invest thousands in repairs first, so it never happened. I wouldn’t think it’s old enough for heritage status but the borough had some basis to insist on repairs being done expensively, such as redoing the roof with copper.

        • Ephraim 18:25 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

          So easy to declare something as heritage… entirely another thing to be able to afford to. And that’s exactly the problem. The borough should, once declaring a building heritage, find a use for it and otherwise have to pay the costs of maintenance. Because it’s really easy to declare it’s heritage, it’s entirely another thing to afford to do it. You really really really should want to protect it, if you declare it. And when you have no responsibility, it’s easy to do.

          You know, where Ex-Centris is located was the old Austrian and Hungarian Synagogue… and now it’s not even remembered. And how about the original Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Montreal? Little St. James and Notre Dame Streets (you know… where the courthouse is built), the second is on Cheneville Street (I think it’s the Chinese Catholic Church of the Holy Spirit, now, but not 100% sure), then 1443 Stanley, now a condo. Funny how easy it is to pave over Montreal’s Jewish history. I bet that Leonard Cohen’s home is likely more revered than any of the synagogues. And PS: https://goo.gl/maps/X5ecNNPNtWvPWqY36 is the old Adath Israel building… notice that 10 commandments at the top of the building 🙂

        • Kate 22:54 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

          A lot of synagogue buildings were converted to other purposes: the apartment building on Duluth, the Collège Français on Fairmount, the Ukrainian hall on Hutchison. But a lot of churches are also gone. Have a look through this list and you’ll be amazed how many churches have risen and fallen here.

          I’m not making little of the disappearance of synagogues, but I don’t know the history of why they were demolished. I suspect in all these cases it’s a mixture of urban populations moving, and religious practice changing and declining, but there may be other factors I’m not considering.

        • Ephraim 13:01 on 2023-01-10 Permalink

          We put a higher value on churches than we do on synagogues, being that they are just buildings. I see the point of saving them, if useful. But just like an appendix, sometimes you just have to move on. Think of all the lovely social housing that we could build in some of these places… energy efficient community spaces, social housing, bright futures for children. These are just not sustainable… if they were, they would be maintained. And as I said, if it’s that important to the city… then find the money… otherwise, you shouldn’t be allowed to declare it heritage and make it someone else’s burden.

          Imagine you have an appendix that burst and needs removal and the doctor telling you… no, we are going in and going to fix it, even though you are going to have to take medication that costs $1000 a month for the rest of your life, because it’s a heritage appendix. Most church buildings are just that.. buildings.

      • Kate 11:02 on 2023-01-08 Permalink | Reply  

        L’actualité has a fancy piece splicing photos and quotations from the ice storm. You can almost imagine this on stage, with projections, and people being sequentially spotlighted as they speak each piece.

        • Kate 10:43 on 2023-01-08 Permalink | Reply  

          A young man walking alone in St‑Laurent on Saturday night was shot, apparently as part of a robbery. There have been no arrests.

          Later, in the same borough, someone shot up the frontage of a bar around 4 am.

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