An emergency recall has forced the STM to take 285 buses off the road.

The manufacturer Nova Bus issued the recall for hybrid buses made between 2016 and 2019 late Thursday.

It affects 285 buses used by the STM, and dozens more buses used by eight other transit agencies across Quebec. In all about 600 vehicles are subject to the recall.

Nova Bus says there is a technical problem involving the steering system.

Marc-André Varin of the Quebec Urban Transport Association (ATUQ) said a driver spotted a warning light prompting the driver to stop immediately.

“As soon as you get this warning light, you have to stop the bus in service. You cannot proceed, so obviously that happened a couple of times only but then that triggered everybody else making the verifications the inspections,” he said.

Nobody was hurt in that incident.

"The inspection itself for one bus, I'm being told, is between 30 and 40 minutes. The first short-term corrective measure I'm being told is somewhere between four and five hours. And the long-term measure including parts, changes, and so on, for the moment we do not have a complete protocol and kit to do this," said Varin.

Transit companies in Montreal, Longueuil and Quebec City said there would be schedule changes on Friday as a result of the recall.

"We are working with Nova Bus in order to fix the situation. In the meantime, the STM is enforcing the SAAQ’s rules to ensure the safety of its users," said Isabelle Tremblay of the STM.

Province-wide 600 buses are now off the road.

  • 66 in Longueuil
  • 83 in Laval
  • 90 in Quebec City
  • 285 in Montreal

The STL in Laval said Friday that it had already inspected its 83 hybrid Nova Buses and found they were in good order. As a result it will not have to change any schedules.

Varin said it should not take long to inspect the recalled buses and ensure they are roadworthy.

“If the corrosion problem is not present, it could be out back on the road and will need to be repaired fairly quickly. If corrosion is present, they are not being put on the road and the corrective measures are being put in place immediately,” he said.

So far the STM has inspected about half the buses and more than 100 of them need repairs.