Deficit of transport companies | A good start to the discussion with Guilbault, says the CMM

Deficit of transport companies | A good start to the discussion with Guilbault, says the CMM
Deficit of transport companies | A good start to the discussion with Guilbault, says the CMM

(Quebec) The Metropolitan Community of Montreal (CMM) chaired by Mayor Valérie Plante “welcomes the openness to dialogue” of the Minister of Transport Geneviève Guilbault, at the end of a meeting on the financing of public transport on Monday.

Posted at 2:17 p.m.

The Press revealed a few hours before the start of this meeting that the Legault government is offering some $200 million to cover part of the deficit of Greater Montreal’s transportation companies. Their demand is twice as high.

For the CMM, this is a good start. However, she refuses to comment in detail on Geneviève Guilbault’s proposal. As it was a meeting bringing together the mayors responsible for transport companies from across Quebec, there was no negotiation around the offer.

Another meeting with the mayors of the CMM only will be held on May 24. This will be a better opportunity to talk about numbers, they say.

The CMM adopted a positive tone at the end of Monday’s meeting. She “welcomes the openness to dialogue of Mme Guilbault” and “considers that this is the start of a conversation to continue on the financing of public transport”.

“Just like us, Mme Guilbault indicated that he wanted to avoid a late outcome like last year and settle the financing for this year before the summer. She also let it be known that she wanted to plan the next two years in the fall,” adds the CMM. Valérie Plante will hold a press scrum Tuesday morning to comment further on the meeting.

For her part, the minister “repeated” to elected officials that, “to be able to find solutions to financing issues, we must ensure that we work on common and rigorous quantified bases because here we are talking about money taxpayers,” according to a written statement sent by his office after the meeting. This is a thinly veiled allusion to the war of numbers going on behind the scenes.

Quebec wants to offer its assistance only for the part of the deficit of transport companies attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is what he calls the “cyclical” deficit, the one resulting from the drop in ridership and the fall in fare revenues of transport companies. The government considers that it has a responsibility to reduce it.

This cyclical deficit should be distinguished from the “structural” deficit, the responsibility of which lies solely with transport companies according to the government. Among other things, they must clean up their expenses to eliminate them, he argues.

In Greater Montreal, the total operating deficit of transport companies amounts to 561 million, calculates the ARTM. This is the shortfall of the transport companies of Montreal, Laval, Longueuil and exo.

The ARTM estimates that around half of this sum, 284 million, represents a “cyclical” deficit. This is the one for which the government intends to offer assistance representing approximately 70%, or approximately $200 million.

The ARTM is demanding double: 421 million.

The Union of Quebec Municipalities considers that the government’s offer is a good start, but that it is necessary to address the financing of public transportation in the longer term. She is organizing a “national meeting” on the subject on Friday in Drummondville. Geneviève Guilbault has not yet responded to her invitation.

During Monday’s meeting, the minister expressed to the mayors her “desire to ensure predictability” in the financing of public transportation, “by ruling this fall on the amounts for the coming years, once[elle aura] received the audits” on the performance of transport companies.

Geneviève Guilbault has a busy week as she will table her bill creating a transport agency, Mobilité Infra Québec, responsible, among other things, for analyzing and carrying out collective transport projects.



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