Financing of the ARTM: Quebec and the CMM agree to resolve the issue by summer

Minister Geneviève Guilbault and the mayors of Greater Montreal agreed on Monday to find “before summer” a solution to the financing problem of the Regional Metropolitan Transport Agency (ARTM) for 2025.

The parties, who met virtually on Monday noon, did not, however, discuss money, according to our information.

The meeting aimed to discuss the financing problems experienced by the province’s transport companies, but especially those experienced by the STMthere STLTHE RTL and exo, which fall under theARTM. These operators alone anticipate a deficit of around $561 million for 2025.

Geneviève Guilbault, for her part, proposes to absorb 70% of the “cyclical” deficit of theARTMaid estimated at around $200 million.

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Minister Geneviève Guibault during the study of the budgetary appropriations of the Ministry of Transport (Archive photo)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Sylvain Roy-Roussel

According to the minister, it is not up to the Quebec government to assume the “structural” part of the anticipated deficit of transport companies, which she attributes in particular to the high salaries paid to them by municipalities.

The minister had summoned on Monday the mayors of Montreal, Laval and Longueuil – but also of Quebec, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Saguenay and Lévis, whose anticipated deficit for 2025 ($60 million) is a lot less important.

Negotiations between Quebec and municipalities over public transportation funding have been tense since last fall, when Ms. Guilbault ended up imposing performance audits on transportation companies, which are taking place these days.

Two weeks ago, the minister also caused an uproar by stating that manage public transportation was not part of the State’s missions. His comments sparked an avalanche of criticism. The mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, notably declared that he no longer had confidence in Ms. Guilbault.

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Interview with Pierre Barrieau, lecturer in transportation planning at the University of Montreal

To find a solution to the deficits plaguing transport companies, cities are considering several options, including service cuts. These scenarios include collecting an additional tax on registrations, a provision resulting from Bill 39, adopted in December.

The week also promises to be busy for Minister Guilbault. In particular, it must table in the coming days the bill aimed at creating Mobilité Infra Québec, an agency which will be responsible for developing the public transport offer in the four corners of the province.

With information from Sébastien Bovet and Marie-Josée Paquette-Comeau

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