STM tables a responsible budget focused on customers

Press release

The Board of Directors of the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) today announced it has adopted the 2015 budget, as well as the new fare structure taking effect next January 1, 2015. The budget features targeted service additions to meet expanding needs in certain areas.

Montréal, November 27, 2014 – The Board of Directors of the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) today announced it has adopted the 2015 budget, as well as the new fare structure taking effect next January 1, 2015. The budget features targeted service additions to meet expanding needs in certain areas.

For 2015, the STM is presenting a balanced budget totalling 1.4 billion dollars. Planned expenditures are up 20 million dollars, a 1.4% increase from the 2014 budget. The rising debt service costs fully account for this increase, as current operating expenses remain the same as in the 2014 budget. To compensate, the STM has further optimized its processes, which should allow it to yield net savings of 56.7 million dollars in 2015.

The STM enjoys stronger support from the Montréal agglomeration and is thus able to present a budget that allows for targeted bus and métro service improvements, while enabling it to handle the growing number of paratransit trips. Furthermore, it will implement various measures aimed at enhancing the customer experience.

«Intent on taking the best interests of transit users and the financial capacity of all stakeholders into account, members of the Board of Directors approved a responsible budget, in a context where the STM consistently strives to offer the best service, while maintaining control over its expenses and limiting fare increases. To that end, it can count on support from the Montréal agglomeration, which has upheld its commitment to public transit by raising its basic contribution to the STM to 409.1 million dollars, a 6.5% increase from 2014. In light of the state of public finances, this 25 million dollar increase is indeed noteworthy, » declared STM board chairman Philippe Schnobb.

Service improvements for bus, métro and paratransit 
The offer of métro service will increase by 400,000 kilometres in 2015. After two years of stable service, this increase is made possible through improved maintenance of existing trains, which increases their availability for passenger service. The STM will gradually add trains on the Orange and Green lines throughout 2015 in order to tangibly shorten intervals during morning and afternoon peak periods. As for the Blue line, its train frequency will mostly be increased during afternoon rush hour.

The bus network will also bring targeted modifications to its service offer, with an additional 356,000 kilometres in 2015. Some bus lines will feature more departures in response to new needs. Such is the case for the 105 – Sherbrooke line that will serve the MUHC in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, as it has become quite successful since the reserved lane opened up. The same will apply to the 180 – De Salaberry in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, whose frequency of service will be increased to match demand in the area. Among other examples, service will be modified along boulevard Gaétan-Laberge in Verdun, in step with a major residential development.

With the Mascouche commuter train rolling into operation, the STM is establishing shared taxibus routes to provide a link with residential sectors in Rivière-des-Prairies borough and with the industrial park in Anjou. Another shared taxi line will be added on boulevard Côte-Vertu Ouest to meet the demand produced by the creation of employment hubs. The growing needs for service in several other sectors in the West Island also justify further improvements to existing shared taxi services.

In response to a marked rise in paratransit ridership, the STM will invest an additional 2.5 million dollars in 2015. The service offer is expected to reach 3.6 million passenger rides, a 3.7% increase from 2014. « Partially funded by the Québec government, this essential service is experiencing a galloping growth rate. Yet, since 2012, the cap on funding is forcing the STM to carry an increasingly heavy financial burden. Beyond such financial considerations, we feel that paratransit represents a social measure that is essential to the quality of life of its many beneficiaries. As such, we are upholding our commitment to providing this service while insisting on the need to find solutions to curb the impact of its growth on our operating budget, » added Mr. Schnobb. 

Transportation improvement projects 
Various projects designed to directly improve the travel experience of public transit users will be carried out in 2015. First and foremost is the addition of some fifty kilometres of reserved lanes, notably along the Des Sources, Côte Saint-Luc, Cavendish, Beaubien and L’Acadie corridors. Next is the ongoing deployment of the mobile network with our Bell, Rogers, Telus and Vidéotron partners, which will result in some fifteen métro stations in the downtown core being connected, as well as stations on the Yellow line. The program for replacing and installing about 250 bus shelters with our Québecor Média Affichage partner will also forge ahead. Our iBus project, making it possible for customers to obtain their transit information in real time, will be deployed during the year. The STM will also launch a new service, OPUS en ligne, which will enable customers to recharge their OPUS card online, in the comfort of their home. Lastly, it will complete testing on AZUR métro cars with the Bombardier-Alstom consortium in order to put them into service in 2015.     

Adjustments to a still-attractive and affordable fare structure 

Download the 2015 fare structure

Concerned with providing quality service to all transit users and maintaining attractive and affordable fare products, the STM will raise some fares in 2015. The regular monthly pass will sell for $82, a $2.50 or 3.1% increase from 2014, while the reduced monthly pass will cost $49.25, a $2 or 4.2% increase.

Customers who subscribe to either OPUS à l’année or OPUS & Cie programs before December 10, 2014 will obtain a 12th month free of charge in 2015. Customers eligible for the reduced fare can purchase a pass valid for four consecutive months for $189, the 2014 cost of four individual reduced monthly passes.

The STM reminds that customers who buy monthly transit passes also qualify for a 15%, non-refundable federal income tax credit. The net monthly cost for public transportation will be $63.70 for transit users paying the full fare and $41.86 for those who pay the reduced fare. The tax credit is roughly equal to two months of free transit. The discount is even more significant with a subscription to OPUS à l’année or OPUS & Cie. « It is in the interest of current customers to claim this tax credit and potential customers should take it into account when calculating public transit costs », declared Mr. Schnobb.  

In a bid to improve the travel experience for customers who only occasionally use off-island métro stations, the STM will make the 2-trip fare card valid at these locations as of January 1, 2015. Transit users travelling to these stations will thus be allowed to use the 2-trip fare card and save 25 ¢ each way compared to the cost of two single-trip tickets. Other fare cards are already valid at the off-island stations, including single-trip tickets, Unlimited Evening and Unlimited Weekend fare cards, the 1-day and 3-day passes and group fare card.

For the first time since it was introduced in 2011, the cost of the 2-trip fare card will be raised to $6 (regular fare) and $4 (reduced fare). The cost of the regular and reduced fare single-trip tickets will go up to $3.25 and $2.25 respectively, following a fare freeze in effect since 2011. With that increase, the price of single-trip STM tickets will be about the same as other unit fares currently available in the greater Montréal area. The 10-trip fare card will cost $26.50 (regular) and $16 (reduced), while the price of the Hebdo weekly pass will rise to $25.50 and $15.50 respectively.

As a way of consolidating its fare products for occasional users, the STM will keep the price of Unlimited Evening, Unlimited Weekend, 1-day and 3-day passes at their 2014 levels throughout 2015. The fare freeze aims to bring new customers around to using public transportation instead of their car when they go out.

« Even if the 2015 budget represents a feat in itself, the STM is still worried about its rising net debt servicing costs and by the prospect of having to fund paratransit’s expansion. While a review of public transportation’s metropolitan-wide governance is on the agenda, the STM reiterates the importance of being able to count on adequate sources of dedicated, indexed and recurrent funding. Civil society as a whole must join in the conversation about funding by considering the impact of public transit on the mobility of those who choose other means of transportation and benefit indirectly, » concluded Mr. Schnobb.

Lastly, the STM points out that its customer satisfaction level reached an 88% peak in 2014 and that ridership should increase to about 417 million passenger rides.

MM. Schnobb and Rotrand are available for interviews.

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Odile Paradis 
Directrice principale – Affaires publiques 
Société de transport de Montréal 
Téléphone : (514) 280-5645