STM unveils budget for 2013
The board of directors of the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) presented its 2013 budget today. This budget will enable the STM to continue expanding services and make significant investments for upgrading its rolling stock and infrastructure to better meet customer needs and increase ridership.
“The STM’s program to improve public transit services—the Programme d’amélioration des services de transport en commun (PASTEC)—ran from 2007 to 2011 and was a great success. We have increased our services overall by 25%, surpassing the Quebec government’s target of 16%. In 2011, our services spanned over 162 million kilometres, and our overall customer satisfaction rate was 89%, up from 84% in 2006. The exceptional growth of our services was made possible through considerable financial support from the agglomeration of Montréal and the Quebec government. Montréal’s commitment to public transit is clear in the 2012 ridership numbers. We expect to reach an all-time record of 413.4 million trips, which will mark a 2.1% increase from 2011,” stated Michel Labrecque, chair of the STM board of directors.
Despite the STM’s growth being capped by infrastructure and rolling stock limitations, the transit corporation nevertheless anticipates a 3.2% increase from the 2012 budget for bus services. Its bus services will cover nearly 91 million kilometres—the highest level since 1966. As for the métro network, the level of service offered in 2012 will be maintained, which equals more than 78 million km-cars. In 2013, paratransit will continue its major growth of recent years with an increase of 8.7%, for a total of 3.3 million trips.
Capital expenditures for 2013 are expected to equal $692M and include investments in the new Azur métro cars and related infrastructure. The STM will receive the first train in 2013 for initial tests. It will also be renovating métro stations and upgrading the bus fleet and bus storage facilities, which will include the construction of the new Stinson transit centre. The STM will also be testing its electric midibuses. Lastly, new bus lanes will be developed, increasing the rapid transit network to more than 370 km by 2020.
A fare schedule to meet public transit challenges
Fares are based on the four criteria that directly impact STM spending: the consumer price index (CPI) for Montréal; the price index specific to transportation and fuel; service improvements; and investments for asset renewal. The impact of fare increases on ridership is also taken into account. In light of these factors, the STM will be raising some of its fares on January 1, 2013. However, the cost of monthly passes will remain among the lowest in the Greater Montréal region and in North America.
The STM is pleased to announce that for the second year in a row, fares will remain unchanged for single and return trips (regular $3 and $5.50, respectively; reduced $2 and $3.50, respectively). The price of the Unlimited Evening pass, which allows riders unlimited travel between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m., will also remain unchanged at $4.
The regular monthly CAM will be $77.75, and the price of the reduced-fare monthly CAM will be raised to $45.50. Riders eligible for reduced fare rates can purchase a 4-month CAM for only $175—the equivalent of four reduced-rate CAMs at the lower 2012 prices. In response to the requests of full-time students aged 18 to 25, the STM has removed its place of residence restriction. Students who meet the age criterion and can provide proof of school attendance are now eligible for reduced fares even if they live outside of Montréal. Detailed fare information is available at
New at the STM: unlimited weekends
The STM wants public transit to be a major part of how people travel in Montréal. That’s why the STM is introducing the Unlimited Weekend pass, an economical way for customers to travel during quieter periods. The introductory price of $12 will give riders unlimited travel on the STM network between Fridays at 6 p.m. and Mondays at 5 a.m. Just like the one-day, three-day, weekly, monthly and 4-month passes, the Unlimited Weekend pass can also be used on the 747 bus between downtown and the Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
Family Outings beginning Friday evening
The Family Outings program is getting better in
2013! The program’s hours will be extended so users can make the most of the
Unlimited Weekend pass. Beginning in January, adults with a valid transit pass
can travel with five children under 12 at no extra cost for the entire weekend,
beginning Fridays at 6 p.m. The STM received strong positive feedback on its
Family Outings program and will once again be offering it in 2013 during all
legal holidays, the holiday season, spring break and the summer holidays. The
great deals offered by the program’s partners are making public transit even
more economical and practical when heading out with young children.
Expansion of L’Occasionnelle smart card sales network
The STM wants all its passes to be available at every sales point, which is why it’s expanding its sales of
L’Occasionnelle, the temporary-use smart card. Occasional riders who do not have an OPUS card can now purchase return fares and Unlimited Evening, Unlimited Weekend, one-day (24 hours) and three-day passes (three consecutive days) at all retailers.
The STM is also launching Maestro in January, an exclusive program for subscribers who have been with the STM for over 12 months. Maestro will offer customers exceptional and innovative incentives that make subscribing more attractive than ever.
Strong financial management
The STM has unveiled a $1.3B budget, up 5.7% from 2012. Of that increase, 1.5% will go to increasing services, 1.5% to investments, 0.2% to added maintenance for aging infrastructure and equipment, and 2.5% to tight expenditure management. The STM is committed to keeping costs as low as possible. Given the 3.77% combined CPI for Montréal and for Quebec transit at July 31, 2012, the STM is on target and is announcing a 2.5% increase in current expenses for 2013. The STM has also maintained its excellent A+ credit rating by Standard and Poor’s and Aa2 rating by Moody’s, both of which attest to the STM’s sound expenditure management and strict cost control.
Business revenues are expected to grow by 4.6%, totalling $25.5M. This amount will not include métro line partnership revenues. The STM received solid proposals from commercial partners, but they did not meet all the conditions required for quickly implementing the project. The STM has decided to put the project on hold to focus on improving customer service.
“The investments planned in the 2013 budget will be funded in part by various programs of the Quebec and federal governments, and there will be a significant impact on the net debt service,” said Michel Labrecque. “The STM’s number one priority is to replace aging buses, métro cars, systems and equipment. The public and our customers also want to see new public transit systems. This is the real challenge for the coming years. It’s clear that the financial resources to fulfill the objectives of the 2020 strategic plan are still not there, despite steady support from STM customers, the agglomeration of Montréal and other cities in the metropolitan region. The 2013 budget is balanced, but it still does not identify any new sources of dedicated, indexed and recurring funding that will enable the STM to meet the growing needs of current and future public transit users.”
Metropolitan funding of public transit: the STM’s expectations
The STM presented its first balanced budget in nearly ten years for the 2011 fiscal year. The budget included expected revenues of $31.6M from the distribution of the 1.5¢ additional gas tax that resulted from the new Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) agreement. The agreement is sound, but certain parameters have resulted in the STM’s share of the additional tax on gas to be less than expected.
The STM is continuing with the key projects of the 2020 strategic plan, which has led to a major debt service increase. As a result, the STM had to allot $10M in its 2012 budget under “CMM new regional contribution” and has increased that amount to $20M in the 2013 budget. The STM hopes that revisions in the new CMM agreement will increase its share of the additional gas tax, but the hefty amount allotted for 2013 re-emphasizes the need for new sources of funding for public transit. To address that need, the CMM transportation commission published a public consultation report on August 16 that proposed solutions on a consensus basis for dedicated, indexed and recurring public transit funding. The report also offered suggestions for absorbing the shortfalls indicated in the 2020 strategic plan.
The 2013 budget and the 2013–2015 Triennial Capital Expenditures Program are now available on the STM website (in French only, English will follow):
Michel Labrecque and Marvin Rotrand are available for interviews.
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