YUL Bus Charters
YUL Bus Charters is a Montreal-based not-for-profit group that organizes bus fan charters at least once a year since 2006.
YUL Bus Charters was founded in late 2005 to address the lack of public transit charters in the Greater Montreal Area. The primary objective of the organization was to host periodic bus charters from the various local transit authorities in Montreal using the oldest vehicles available. The group was inspired by the leadership and initiative of the Toronto Transportation Society, which offers successful and popular transit charters. The executive of YUL Bus Charters set a goal to provide annual bus charters on the first weekend of May. Much of the planning of the events as well as the invitations to the charters took place via the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board, a custom that continues to the present date. The first events were held on the weekend of 6-7 May 2006. After experience, confidence, and popularity were gained following this first charter weekend, several charters were subsequently organized under the YUL Bus Charters banner.
In order to ensure quality, the charter planning process typically involves much deliberation with the YUL Bus Charters executive and consultants via e-mail and even sometimes in person. Destinations, routes, and photo stops are determined by making annotations on a system map. The outcome of these exchanges, consulting Google (Maps, Streetview, and Satellite), and the results of driving the charter routing form the basis of research prior to the execution of the charter.
For the first three years, the fan trips were only organized with buses from Montreal's three largest systems: Société de transport de Montréal, Réseau de transport de Longueuil, and Société de transport de Laval. In 2008, YUL Bus Charters broadened their vision and expanded their operations to include Conseil Intermunicipal de Transport suburban transit systems. The YUL Bus Charters planning team has also boldly chartered vehicles out of city and even out of province. As a result, the various charters have been given specific names in order to differentiate the local charters from the regional charters.
To date, various bus models from an assortment of builders have been chartered, although it should be stated that the MCI Classic bus has been selected the majority of the time. 2009 and 2011 were by far the most productive years in the organization's history, with no less than six charters offered for the transit enthusiast community.
The YUL Bus Charters website  was officially unveiled in Spring 2008 prior to the flagship charter weekend. A previous beta website existed for the 2006 activities. A work in progress, the website's primary role is to offer detailed trip reports of past events as well as news for upcoming public events. Due to other obligations and priorities, the website is no longer regularly updated.
The name of this organization is derived from the IATA code for Montreal - Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport . The proper appellation of YUL Bus Charters is to spell out the IATA code. It is not pronounced "yool" as is sometimes erroneously done.
At present, YUL Bus Charters has primarily chartered urban transit buses, but has also chartered one suburban transit bus, one Articulated Bus, and even two urban transit buses propelled by Compressed Natural Gas as opposed to the more common diesel. Details on previous charters can be found below as well as on the organization's website.
From the beginning, YUL Bus Charters respectfully strives to offer bilingual services to the transit enthusiast community. Charters are held in English and in French with simultaneous translation. With time, the website will be translated, as will all official documents. We also have welcomed disabled persons to join our charters.
Although YUL Bus Charters originally began organizing charters that were open to the public at large, the organization has increasingly began to offer private charters that are open by invitation only. In addition, minors under the age of 18 are no longer permitted to attend a YUL Bus Charter. These decisions were made for legal reasons as well as to exclude certain individuals that have consistently compromised security and have disobeyed established guidelines. Ultimately, the management of YUL Bus Charters retains the right to restrict or refuse admission to their activities.
All positions within the YUL Bus Charters organization are voluntary. Although there are only a few executive positions, they are comprised of the following persons:
President and Co-Founder
Shanake Mario Seneviratne (see User:SMS) currently serves as the President and Co-Founder of YUL Bus Charters. His leadership in uniting transit enthusiasts from Montreal and surrounding areas assured the success of this organization from its inception. As President, his role is to plan each charter by getting in contact with transit authorities, and to research and obtain information to determine current and historic itineraries. As well, his role as charter director is to welcome and register charter participants, make announcements during the trip, and ensure order aboard and off the bus. Safety is a large concern to him, and from 2010 he began to sport a florescent vest to guide traffic on the road during photo stops. He also advertises the fan trips, primarily by means of the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board, as well as through the YUL Bus Charters facebook group, the YUL Bus Charters official website, e-mail, and finally by word of mouth.
Seneviratne encourages charter planning and organization in other cities, with the goal of spreading our common objectives and vision to benefit enthusiasts in other cities. He offers consulting services freely to serious planners. For example, he served as a consultant for an OC Transpo Classic charter held in September 2008, which was similarly organized through the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board. The Wheels of Peel charters held in July 2010 organised by David Vincent (see User:Orion VIII) also benefited from Seneviratne's advice.
The President is also active on the local level with regard to charter planning for other organizations. When the executive of the Toronto Transportation Society (TTS) approached Seneviratne with the idea of hosting Transportation Weekend 2010 in Montreal, he welcomed the initiative and served as an active liaison between the transportation authorities and the TTS. The event was billed as being held in cooperation with YUL Bus Charters, the latter having been given authority by the TTS executive to plan and organize the various associated events and charters. However, the actual undertaking was done by the TTS, and all final decisions were their own.
Seneviratne's next major project will be to help organize the June 2013 convention of the Bus History Association in the Greater Montreal Area.
Due to a knee injury in April 2013, Seneviratne has appointed Steve M. to serve as interim President of YUL Bus Charters. Steve's knowledge of the French language and his direction skills has proven crucial for the success of YUL Bus Charter 2013 Weekend.
Richard Hooles is the other co-founder and served as a consultant in the planning and execution of this organization's first charters.
David Demers (2007-present) currently serves as Vice-President of YUL Bus Charters. He was appointed by Seneviratne in 2007 and serves as an executive assistant to the President. Demers was selected because of his interests in driving and traveling, as well as for his second opinion. His role is to provide constructive criticism and suggestions in the preparatory stages of charter planning. He also assists the President during the charters in welcoming participants and also helps to maintain order on and off the chartered bus.
David Vincent (2013) has been appointed as an interim Vice-President and has agreed to fulfil the duties of this position on a temporary basis (specifically for the lead up to and the duration of YUL Bus Charter 2013 Weekend).
James R. Hay offers the organization a website and technical support free of charge. The website is affiliated with Montrain, a group of Montreal railfans that are particularly interested in the Agence métropolitaine de transport Deux-Montagnes Line.
Various fan trips have benefited from extensive consultation with the following knowledgeable persons:
Jacques Matte is a retired bus operator from the Réseau de transport de la Capitale (RTC). A self described bus fan, he counts among the province's most ardent transit enthusiasts. Thanks to his intimate knowledge of the RTC system, he volunteered his expertise for Quebec Tripper 2009, and his assistance ensured a very positive outcome despite the shortcomings that occurred during this fan trip. His close relation to the RTC played an integral part during a successful private charter held in April 2011 with a bus from the Société de transport de Lévis and the participants were able to obtain photos at the busy Université Laval Métrobus Station. 
Félix Parent-Rocheleau is a bus operator with Société de transport de Trois-Rivières (STTR). A lifelong trifluvian, Félix gladly offered to assist in the planning and execution of YUL Bus Charters' first visit in this city. 
Daniel Poirier is a Montreal transportation historian specializing in the history of urban transportation on the South Shore. He is a scheduler and planner with Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL). The executive invited Poirier to help plan YUL Bus Charter events featuring RTL vehicles since 2008. His document loans from the RTL archives ensured that the regional charter itineraries were all authentic, and all attendees were granted PDF scans of the original schedules used to plan these events.
Tristan-Philippe Roy is a bus operator with Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) since 2006. He offered to assist YUL Bus Charters as a volunteer operator during every YUL Bus Charter event featuring RTL vehicles since 2008. Roy assisted with the planning of these charters as well.
The primary role of YUL Bus Charters is to offer exceptional fan trips in the Greater Montreal Area. Using highly desirable buses from licensed charter operators, current and historic routes are planned with the appropriate maps and by consulting knowledgeable sources. Care is taken to drive the charter's itinerary beforehand in order to plot accessible photo locations with proper sun angles. Whenever possible, garage visits are organized, promotional materials are offered, and raffles are held.
YUL Bus Charters is motivated to promote legitimacy to the transit photography hobby through the organization of fan charters. Although aware of the ramifications of transit and terrorism in the post 9/11 world, most bus fans are nevertheless harassed by ignorant civilians, overzealous operators, and uninformed security agents that are ill-informed on the concept of people liking transit and wanting to take pictures of it. Transit authorities become aware of their fan base when charters are organized, and are then quite willing to co-operate and provide photo opportunities not normally available. With time, relations between transit authorities and bus enthusiasts becomes very cordial once the transit authorities are acquainted with transit enthusiasts through the planning and organization of charters.
It is in the interest of YUL Bus Charters to become Montreal's premier fan charter organization based on offering the best value for money. Essentially, this means that many photo opportunities are planned during the charter's itinerary. However, this also means that minimal time is allocated for breaks since charters are charged based on an hourly rate. In return for participation and support, YUL Bus Charters does its utmost to provide maps and facility tours whenever possible.
Furthermore, YUL Bus Charters uses any profits whatsoever to be carried over towards the planning of the next charter and the cost of the next charter. Upon request, we offer information on revenues and expenditure in an effort to demonstrate our transparency. Annual reports may be offered when the future of YUL Bus Charters is secure.
YUL Bus Charters promotes professionalism within the transit enthusiast community. The group also subscribes to a "safety first" mindset.
For legal reasons, the YUL Bus Charters executive insist that all participants must read and sign a waiver prior to boarding a chartered vehicle.
As a private not-for-profit group, YUL Bus Charters reserves the right to restrict and/or refuse admission. From 2010, no minors will be permitted aboard charters for liability reasons. This restriction may be lifted if YUL Bus Charters becomes officially incorporated.
YUL Bus Charter Weekend
YUL Bus Charters' flagship event takes place in May, and are by far the most popular and best attended events. Traditionally, the first weekend of May has been selected for fan trips that are open for all to join. The flagship charters are usually named for the year that they occur; for example, the first charter weekend was called YUL Bus Charter 2006. In 2006, charters were held on two successive days. In 2007 and 2008, activities were only held on the one day, namely Saturday. In 2009, the charter weekend returned due to popular demand as well as interest in a regional charter on the South Shore. For the first time in 2010, YUL Bus Charters incorporated an Ontario Tripper event into its May weekend.
In 2008 and 2009, YUL Bus Charters used the designation of Private Charters when it was warranted to specifically charter a Société de transport de Montréal bus with all costs assumed equally among participants. The cost of these charters was deemed to be quite high, but was justified because chartering the bus for a lengthy period would entail a significant loss. Initially, the private charters were organized specifically for local attendance based on local interest in a particular bus fleet series. Previous experience had demonstrated that private charters can be cost-effective and popular, even gaining interest from persons from outside Quebec. The first of these private charters occurred in April 2008. The following year saw two successful charters held in April and October 2009. After the successful outcome of the 2009 private charters, the executive believes it possible that, with enough participation, future STM Classic charters could be hosted without the Private Charter designation.
Currently, the Private Charter designation indicates a "by invitation only" initiative organised by the executive. The first of these truly private charters occurred in June 2010. The executive plans on hosting more of these events in the future, and will gradually decrease its previous emphasis on charters open to the public.
The year 2008 marked the departure of only having charters in May and only chartering from the three largest transit authorities in the Greater Montreal Area. CIT Trippers intend to visit suburban transit authorities whose services are operated by a local Conseil Intermunicipal de Transport. Unfortunately, the majority of CITs do not have charter permits, leaving YUL Bus Charters with few options available. The first CIT Tripper occurred in September 2008 with a bus from Conseil intermunicipal de transport du Sud-Ouest. At the present moment, the executive of YUL Bus Charters cannot foresee when the next CIT Tripper will be planned.
Events planned with Cornwall Transit are called Ontario Trippers, given this Eastern Ontario city's close proximity to Montreal. After visiting Cornwall Transit's varied bus fleet and meeting their friendly personnel, the executive of YUL Bus Charters decided to plan a charter within merely two weeks in November 2008. The subsequent Ontario Tripper was the first event of the YUL Bus Charter 2010 Weekend. The executive has a very good relationship with the division manager and his staff, and YUL Bus Charters now endeavours to offer Ontario Trippers at least once every two years.
The purpose of the first Quebec Tripper in June 2009 was to ride the last active articulated MCI Classic with Réseau de transport de la Capitale (RTC). Unfortunately, the bus was retired the day before the charter, and the fan trip was thus undertaken with a standard MCI Classic painted in the newer colours of the transit system. Due to the less than satisfactory outcome of the event, it is unlikely that further Quebec Trippers with the RTC will hosted in the future. However, YUL Bus Charters has investigated the possibility of hosting a Quebec Tripper on the south shore facing the capital. With a more interesting fleet of vehicles and friendlier staff than on the opposite shore, a fan trip was offered with Société de transport de Lévis in 2011 and future charters with this transit authority form part of the organization's long-term planning.
The charter planning process typically can be time consuming and exhaustive. YUL Bus Charters now offers the Improv Charter: a simplified fan trip combining a popular vehicle with fast-paced decision making. In the case of an improvised charter, sun angles will be determined on the spot, and only contemporary routes will be chosen. Minimal work is nevertheless undertaken to ensure that the charter will not be an utter failure, but the element of improvisation gives this particular type of charter assured excitement and surprise. The first Improv Charter was hosted with the cooperation of Tristan-Philippe Roy, who is an operator for Réseau de transport de Longueuil. The timing of an Improv Charter is crucial; they can be held if it is known in advance that several bus enthusiasts will be arriving in the Greater Montreal Area. The first improvised charter was held in November 2009, shortly before Trans-Expo 2009. Based on the success of the first Improv Charter, it is likely that more Improv Charters will be held in the future.
YUL Bus Charter 2006 Weekend
YUL Bus Charter 2007
YUL Bus Charters Private Charter
YUL Bus Charter 2008
YUL Bus Charters presents CIT Tripper 2008
YUL Bus Charters presents Ontario Tripper 2008
YUL Bus Charters Private Charter
YUL Bus Charter 2009 Weekend
YUL Bus Charters presents Quebec Tripper 2009
YUL Bus Charters Private Charter
YUL Bus Charters presents Improv Charter 2009
YUL Bus Charter 2010 Weekend featuring Ontario Tripper 2010
YUL Bus Charters Private Charter
YUL Bus Charters presents Nocturnal Tripper 2010 (Private Charter)
YUL Bus Charters presents Quebec Tripper 2011 (Private Charter)
YUL Bus Charters presents Improv Charter 2011 (Private Charter)
YUL Bus Charter 2011 Weekend
YUL Bus Charters Private Charter
YUL Bus Charters Private Charter
YUL Bus Charter 2012 Weekend featuring Ontario Tripper 2012
YUL Bus Charters Private Charter
YUL Bus Charter 2013 Weekend
Over time, YUL Bus Charters has received media attention for their unique ideas and activities. Steve Faguy wrote a feature on YUL Bus Charter 2008 that appeared in The Gazette . As well, a blog article was written by Faguy under his alias Fagstein . The aim of this publicity is to promote our hobby and appreciation of buses, and perhaps eventual public acceptance will come about through education and understanding of who we are and what we do.
Ideas are constantly considered for future activities and suggestions are welcome. Projected dates and details for public events will be posted primarily on the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board a few months in advance of the activity. Formerly, such news was also available on the YUL Bus Charters website and its facebook group, but these pages are infrequently updated.
yulbuscharters -at- gmail -dot- com
The Official YUL Bus Charters Website