In town, without my car! 2008 - On September 22, Let's Act for the Environment! Let's All Choose Public Transit or Active Transportation

    MONTREAL, Sept. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - On September 22, 2008, citizens are
invited to leave their vehicles at home and take part in the sixth edition of
In town, without my car! day.
    Accompanied by André Lavallée, city of Montréal Executive Committee
member responsible for public transit, Marvin Rotrand, vice-chairman of the
board of directors of the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), and Paul
Houde, this year's spokesperson of the event, Joel Gauthier, President and
Chief Executive Officer of the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT), which
is organizing In town, without my car! day, revealed the theme and the program
for the 2008 edition of the event at a press conference this morning.
    According to Québec Transportation Minister Julie Boulet, "Transports
Québec is very enthusiastic about its renewed association with In town,
without my car! this year. This celebration, which reminds people of the
importance of linking mobility with sustainable development, unites two issues
that are key to the government's actions. And I should remind you that over
the next five years we will invest $4.5 billion in public transit and that we
are making a $10-million contribution support alternative means of
transportation such as carpooling, bicycling and walking. These are concrete
measures to encourage citizens who want to use alternatives to
single-occupancy vehicles."

    Saluting businesses that put their best foot forward

    With its theme of "Saluting businesses that put their best foot forward,"
the AMT wishes to make businesses aware of the role they can play in promoting
public transit and active transportation. "The time for reflection and
awareness is over; now it's time for action!" declared Joel Gauthier. "We need
to take concrete action for the environment and that is why this year we
decided to pay tribute to businesses' efforts in this regard." To do this, the
In town, without my car! event will pay tribute during the "Business
Breakfast" to businesses that have started up a program to promote sustainable
mobility (carpooling, public transit passes provided as an employee benefit,
self-serve bikes, etc.) and publicize the eco-responsible - and economical -
modes of transportation available to their employees.

    Festive programming with a focus on environmental issues

    As in previous years, the 2008 program will be colourful and diverse. The
emphasis will be on concrete actions that people can take to protect the
environment every day. For example, "Focus on footprints" will be an
opportunity for citizens to discover the best ways to reduce their carbon
footprint when they travel. They will also be invited to mark their footprints
in the street.
    "In the next few years, we will see more pedestrian streets in Montréal,
an extended bicycle path network that is safe and effective, green
neighbourhoods in strategic areas of the island, more carpools and shared
cars, and the deployment of an efficient, high-quality public transit service,
whether by building streetcar lines, extending the metro or adding reserved
lanes. In town, without my car! day is just a foretaste of what Montréal
citizens can expect," noted André Lavallée, who is responsible for public
transit at the city of Montréal.
    As for entertainment, the AMT is introducing something new this year: the
"Mobility Fashion Show" at noon, in which tap dancers will parade the runway
dressed in urban clothing that is appropriate for active transportation and
public transit. After all, whoever said that fashion and chic are incompatible
with sports and comfort! The clothing and accessories will be chosen from the
collections of Montréal designers.
    At the end of the day, the "Business Class" happy hour is sure to please
downtown businesspeople who will be able to relax on car-free Sainte-Catherine
Street in front of Place des Arts, as they escape from rush hour. Paul Houde
will host the event and his show Montréal Maintenant will be broadcast direct
on 98.5 FM. As well, the businesses that took part in the In town, without my
car! Challenge will be presented and the winners announced. "I'm very happy to
be associated with In town, without my car!" said Paul Houde, spokesperson for
the sixth edition of the event. "Whenever I have to drive to Montréal, I
realize what a daily hassle it is."
    Old favourites such as the electric zone, street games, kids' corner, the
ecological/educational rally and the grassed-over rest area with picnic tables
will be back, and there will be many new activities to discover at the kiosks
hosted by the event's partners.

    Perimeter and hours

    Because of the event, car traffic will be prohibited from 9:30 a.m. to
3:30 p.m. within the perimeter bordered by McGill College and Saint-Urbain
streets (open) and René-Lévesque and de Maisonneuve boulevards (open). For the
first time this year, the Place des Arts block (Sainte-Catherine Street
between Jeanne-Mance and Saint-Urbain streets) will be closed from 8 a.m. to
7 p.m. to extend the duration of the event and hold certain activities there.
This is the largest perimeter closed to all car traffic in a downtown area in
any of the over 1,300 cities and towns worldwide that organize car-free days.
    "For some months now, the STM has spared no effort to improve its
services and become more efficient and more attractive to people who already
use it and also to those who tend to travel by car. We want to incite them to
leave their cars at home and use public transit," stated the vice-chair of the
STM's board, Marvin Rotrand.
    "And I am pleased to inform you that our efforts are paying off. The
results regarding ridership on the bus and metro system in the first six
months of 2008 are highly promising: in the greater Montréal area, ridership
on the STM system was up by 7.5 million trips compared to the same period last
year, representing a 4% increase. So we have reason to celebrate!" concluded
Mr. Rotrand.

    Our partners in the event

    Together with the city of Montréal and the STM, the AMT has been
organizing In town, without my car! day for six years now. It would be
difficult to organize such an event without the support and collaboration of
numerous partners including the ministère des Transports du Québec, the
ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs du Québec,
Transdev, VIA Rail, Bombardier Transportation, Canadian National, Canadian
Pacific Railway, Transport Canada and SNC-Lavalin. Many other exhibitor
partners are also contributing to the success of the day with their
activities, services, demonstrations, etc.

    Looking back at 2007

    In town, without my car! celebrated its fifth anniversary last year. A
record crowd of close to 50,000 people invaded Sainte-Catherine Street as soon
as the perimeter was closed and this strong attendance level continued all
    A survey conducted by Ipsos Descarie a few days after the event found
that the day benefited from an excellent recognition level - 86% of
respondents knew about it. Moreover, 88% also said they were very much or
quite in favour of the day, since it helps to make the public aware of the
environment and the need to combat pollution. Finally, almost all (94%)
Montréalers were in favour of the day being held again in 2008. The AMT heard
what they had to say and is proud to organize In town, without my car! day for
the sixth year in a row.

    About the AMT

    The Agence métropolitaine de transport was created in 1995 and is a
government agency accountable to the Québec Minister of Transport. Its mission
is to improve the efficiency of individual travel in the metropolitan Montréal
area and to increase the use of public transit and paratransit, while
consolidating the urbanized cores on a territory comprising 83 municipalities
and the Kahnawake Mohawk Reserve. Every day, the AMT plans, coordinates,
integrates and promotes public transit services (buses, metro, taxi-bus,
taxis, carpools, commuter trains and paratransit) and acts to improve the
efficiency of metropolitan roads. It collaborates with and makes its expertise
available to its partners, along with services that meet customers' needs. It
acts as a financial equalization agent for the transit organizations in the
region and finances development by providing incentives.

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For further information:

For further information: Caroline Couillard, Morin Relations Publiques,
(514) 289-8688, ext. 233, Cell.: (514) 755-5729

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