2013 Federal Budget STM reiterates importance of investing in public transit
Montréal, March 22, 2013 – In the wake of the federal budget tabled by the Government of Canada, Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is pleased with the new, 10-year Building Canada Plan, with investments of over $53 B earmarked for provincial and municipal infrastructure, including public transportation. As for the gas tax fund, Ottawa’s decision to index its transfer payments by 2% a year starting in 2014 - 2015 is good news, as the fund will be keeping pace with inflation.
« Injecting new sums of money into the Building Canada fund in addition to indexing the gas tax fund are a step in the right direction. It is now up to the government of Québec and the city of Montréal to decide to invest a large portion of these sums into public transit. The financial resources at our disposal are still insufficient today for us to reach the goals set out in our 2020 Strategic Plan. Together, the maintenance, vehicle replacement and service expansion projects included in the Plan represent investments totalling some $11.5 B between now and 2020, with nearly $4 B already approved or pending approval. Several projects are underway, yet a lot of work remains. Indeed, the maintenance of assets will require an additional $3.2 B and another $4.2 B to further develop and expand the transit network », declared STM Board Chairman, Michel Labrecque.
STM is committed to working closely with business partners that have already spoken out in favour of public transit to ensure it enjoys dedicated, indexed and recurrent funding, as that will provide a more adequate response to growing, legitimate demand by current and future transit customers in the greater metropolitan area. Such investments will help solve problems with traffic congestion that cost the Montréal economy some $3 B a year, a major concern for the Metropolitan Montreal Board of Trade.
« The Québec economy is losing billions of dollars because of increasing traffic congestion, which also adversely affects the quality of life of residents in the metropolitan area. The current problems will not be solved by adding more lanes to highways or building new road infrastructure, not when we already have a hard time finding the money to repair and maintain the existing road system. Besides, such a backward-looking solution has proven counter-productive, by promoting urban sprawl, excessive car usage and more traffic congestion. Instead, we should be increasing public transit services, in terms of quantity and quality, to meet the mobility requirements of many of today’s single-occupant car users and effectively bring about a modal transfer that would stabilize, if not reduce, traffic congestion. This would prove to be a real win-win solution, for both motorists and public transit customers », concluded Mr. Labrecque.
– 30 –