STL launches STL Compagnon Program to help special-needs customers ride its regular bus network

Aug. 18, 2021
The program is aimed to people 12 years and older living with an autism spectrum disorder, a mild intellectual disability or a language impairment.

The Société de transport de Laval (STL) has launched its STL Compagnon program, based around a smartphone app.

The app provides real-time guidance to reduce the anxiety experienced or expected by certain clientele when taking public transit. It aims to empower these users to travel more safely and to become increasingly autonomous and confident as they make public transit a regular part of their active lifestyle.

At this time, the program is aimed to people 12 years and older living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a mild intellectual disability (MID) or a language impairment (dysphasia). Users are referred by an affiliated agency and must meet certain eligibility criteria established by the program, including having certain abilities to move around on their own. The School Service Centres and the CISSS of Laval worked with STL to help define the program.

"Promoting and enhancing public transit are priorities, much like access to this service for the greatest number of people. That's why I am proud of the support provided by your government for this innovative project," said Chantal Rouleau, Minister for Transport and Minister Responsible for the Metropolis and the Montréal Region, government of Quebec. "There's no doubt that the mobile app users will also feel a sense of pride when they get on an STL bus by themselves."

While it had been running the project as a pilot for some years, it is now an official program, part of STL's regular operations. For now, a maximum of 10 active users will be accepted in the program at one time. Spaces will be reassigned to new users as they become available (registration required, available on Android only).

"This initiative is in line with the STL's innovation values. Empowering as many people as possible to include public transit in their travel habits is at the heart of our corporate mission, our strategic plan, and our universal accessibility plan. It's also a way to provide an alternative to paratransit for those who have the inclination and ability," said Éric Morasse, chair of the STL Board of Directors and city councillor for Saint-François in Laval.

Distinctive features compared to other public transport travel planners include:

  • Customized and user-tailored routes.
  • Monitoring by STL customer service agents.
  • Guidance in collaboration with the partner organization's stakeholders.
  • Registered users only: user record with emergency contact in case of need.
  • Possibility of free telephone loan for a trial period, as most of the young people targeted do not have one.
  • Free first month of transportation.

This project was made possible through the funding granted by the Ministère des Transports du Québec and its Programme d'aide gouvernementale au transport collectif des personnes (PAGTCP).