2004-2005 Prebudget consultations
The STM reminds the gouvernment of the urgent need
for investment in public transportation
Montreal, 17 February 2004 – The chairman of the STM's Board of directors, Claude Dauphin, today submitted a brief to Québec's Finance Minister for the purposes of the 2004-2005 Prebudget consultations. Accompanied by vice-chairman Marvin Rotrand and STM Director general, Pierre Vandelac, Mr. Dauphin pointed out that public transportation is an essential service and that the STM needs new sources of financing to maintain its assets, provide services and develop new ones.
Montreal: a public transit city
Closely linked to the city's economic development and to improvements in the quality of life of all Montrealers, public transportation plays a major social role by providing low-income persons with affordable access to places and services. Statistics show that, in Montreal, one household out of three does not own a car and that Montrealers widely use public transportation. Indeed, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association, Montreal has the highest annual rate of commutes per capita in Canada, with 200 compared to 169 in Toronto, 87 in Longueuil, and 51 in both Vancouver and Laval.
Managing transit developments, not a decline in services
Again, Mr. Dauphin outlined the STM's budgetary constraints, as well as the impacts this situation could have if no decision is made. " It is widely known that public transportation is going through a major financial crisis. Transit users have had 20% fare increases imposed upon them in the last thirteen months, while the city - whose per capita contribution is the highest in Québec* - has increased its share by 11%, from $ 236 million to $ 263 million since the municipal mergers. " He emphasized that " If nothing is done in the short term, the STM's deficit, already forecast at $ 20.4 million for 2004, could reach some $ 61.2 million by 2008, partly because of the pressing investments required in the métro to maintain its reliability. We must act now to ensure the future of transit and the development of services."
The STM wants the Québec government to broaden its support for public transit by providing an equitable financial framework, better suited to the industry's reality. " The next budget will give the government an opportunity to make its position clear regarding public transportation. We expect the government to propose a new financial framework that draws on the various recommendations submitted so far, such as considering the métro as a metropolitan asset, as it benefits the entire Montreal area; such as creating a fund dedicated to financing public transportation by introducing a tax on parking spaces, or raising car registration fees by $ 5 (from $ 30 to $ 35) or raising the tax on gas by 1¢ (from 1.5¢ to 2.5¢). "
The STM: a leading economic role
It is worth noting that the STM carried out some 367 million trips in 2003, providing 82% of all public transit commutes in the Montreal area and 73% of all commutes in Québec. With an $ 811.3 million budget and 7300 employees, it is the 18th largest corporation in Québec, and the replacement cost alone of its assets is valued at over $ 8 billion. It generates some $ 2 billion for the community in the Montreal area, and produces considerable economic benefits by employing the equivalent of 20 500 persons/year and giving back $ 239 million in combined taxes, of which $ 150 million goes to Québec. Thanks to constant efforts aimed at improving its performance, the STM has succeeded in reducing the cost per trip from $ 1.63 in 1995 to $ 1.45 in 2003, in spite of a particularly difficult context. Its financial performance and sound management were duly recognized by both the DBRS and Standard & Poor's credit rating agencies, which granted the transit corporation with A high and A+ ratings respectively.
* Per capita contribution: Montreal: $173, Laval: $123, Longueuil: $120, Québec City: $88, Gatineau: $51
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