The STM would have liked the Nicolet Commission
to choose public transit
Montreal, 28 February 2003 The Société de transport de Montréal has certain reservations with regard to the conclusions of the report from the Commission de consultation sur lam�lioration de la mobilit� entre Montréal et la Rive-Sud, presided over by Mr. Roger Nicolet. The chairman of the board, Mr. Claude Dauphin, is of the opinion that the Commission "in theory favours the use of public transit, but in fact proposes an increase in highway capacity. By doing this, it does not, as the STM had recommended, support the implementation of a series of coherent, convergent and co-ordinated solutions to successfully change mobility patterns and ensure ongoing development".
At the time it presented its brief, the STM explained that the addition of a bridge or any other traffic artery was not a solution, as it would only postpone the problem. The STM stated that "improving mobility is not a solution, we must change travel patterns. It is no longer enough to adapt the network to our needs; we must change our urban planning models. We must therefore modify our ways of travelling and of using the existing infrastructures in order to transform the hub that the city represents".
Building bridges is what weve been doing for the last 50 years
In its brief, the STM recalled that "building autoroutes and bridges to respond to an increase in actual or anticipated travel to Montreal is what weve been doing for more than 50 years, and yet the problem is still not resolved. Several studies have shown that, even with a stable population, an increase in road capacity is inevitably accompanied by an increase in traffic volume, thus making this increase of no effect in the mid-term".
The STM had also indicated that the construction of the métro in the 1960s, and its first extensions in the mid-1970s, had almost no effect on the use of public transit, as this period coincided with the implementation of major road network projects such as the Champlain bridge in 1962, the Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine tunnel in 1967 and the Ville-Marie autoroute in 1973.
Public transit: the necessary choice
Mr. Dauphin reiterated that despite recent increases in ridership, public transits share in the Montreal area declined from 23 % to 17 % between 1987 and 1998, and that this is the result of a strong trend that has existed since the beginning of the 1950s.
"To stop this trend, choices must be made in favour of public transit and not in favour of the automobile, which continues to gain market share. Thats why the STM would have liked the report from the Nicolet Commission to come out strongly on the side of public transit and its development."
"We would also have liked the conclusions of the brief to be consistent with the commitments that Quebec made with regard to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Public transit offers a viable alternative and can contribute greatly to reaching the objectives set for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But, in order to do this, the maintenance of its infrastructures and the stability of its financing must be ensured", concluded Mr. Dauphin.
Summary of the recommendations made by the STM
- Maintain the assets of the existing network and ensure their upkeep by investing in the renewal and modernization of equipment and rolling stock;
- Maximize the use of the existing transportation infrastructures by using, for example, the excess capacity on Line 4-Yellow serving Longueuil;
- Stabilize the financing of public transit operations and sustain its development in order to ensure the financing of infrastructures and operating costs resulting from the increase in ridership;
- Implement a programme to manage the demand by favouring measures that increase the cost of automobile use. These could include, for example, an increase in the gasoline tax, establishment of a regionally-integrated parking policy, implementation of a tax on long-term parking, protection of street parking for residents, usage fee for road infrastructures, etc.
- Offer, in parallel, public transit alternatives to automobile drivers by, for example, giving priority to the metro extension projects, developing a light rail transit system, implementing preferential measures for buses on priority arteries and promoting the establishment of public taxis or minibuses in less well-served areas.