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Hole of 78 million at the STM | Without new funds, the service offer would be “fatally” threatened

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A week after the presentation of its financial statements, with a budgetary hole of 78 million, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is issuing a new cry from the heart to the higher governments, fearing that it will have to “fatally” cut more if sums of additional money is not released.

“We really have to work on financing the operation of public transport. It’s a burden we all share. There will have to be solutions. The current system is not viable in the short, medium and long term, “said the chairman of the board of directors of the company, Éric Alan Caldwell, on Monday, before the Finance Commission at Montreal City Hall. .

The one who is also a municipal councilor says that it is a question of user retention. “We need more money. The higher governments must be there. Without that, inevitably, we will no longer be able to afford this service offer, ”said Mr. Caldwell.


PHOTO PATRICK SANFAÇON, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Eric Alan Caldwell

In an “ideal” world, according to him, government funding would be “in bursts”, from Quebec City to the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), then from there to the STM. “There is a sequence to review,” also insisted the chosen one, who calls for a change of mentality.

We still have to fight to get all of our funding, because there is always this perception that it is an additional service. […] If we compare ourselves to conventional mobility, no one thinks that we should let our sidewalks and our roads fall into ruins.

Éric Alan Caldwell, President of the STM

Big hole to fill

At the end of November, the STM had recognized that the marked increase in the shortfall, which is 77.8 million precisely, will cause service cuts this year. Certain high-frequency bus lines and services to the city center could in particular see their frequency decrease. In the metro, the fastest service at rush hour will be reduced by about thirty minutes on the orange line, while on the green line, the passage between each train will be lengthened by about fifteen seconds at peak.

General Manager Marie-Claude Léonard bluntly states that “the STM will have to evolve” to cope with its two roles: those of operator and project supplier. “We may have to make courageous decisions when necessary,” she slipped.


PHOTO PATRICK SANFAÇON, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Marie-Claude Leonard

For the rest, the DG expects that 75 to 80% of pre-pandemic ridership will be back during 2023, in the metro and Montreal buses. Currently, this figure is around 69% during the week, but rises to 79% during the weekend.

Soon, “we will have to stop talking about pre-pandemic traffic, but about new traffic”, mentioned Monday Mme Leonardo. “Returning to 100% does not mean the same customers in the same time slots”, she reasoned, referring to possible “bonuses to be made outside peak times”.

The blue line advances

In a much more optimistic tone, the STM also confirmed – as revealed The Press last week – the launch of a call for tenders for the construction of the future 6.4 km tunnel which will link Saint-Michel to Anjou. The company selected to carry out the work “will be known in the second half of 2023”.

In addition to excavating the tunnel, the supplier will also be responsible for digging the Pie-IX, Viau and Lacordaire stations to prepare for the work, as well as “certain auxiliary structures”.

In a press release, the transport company argued that “the tunnel boring machine, through its power supply, is environmentally friendly and silent, so that citizens may not even be aware of its passage under their homes”.

Over the next few months, “other calls for tenders will follow with a view to awarding the various contracts which will ultimately allow the project to be carried out”, also explained the STM, which is still working on a commissioning. the extension of the blue line for 2029, with a budget of approximately 6.4 billion.



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