Budget improvement allows the STM to maintain its 2023 service

Budget improvement allows the STM to maintain its 2023 service targets

At a press conference on Friday, STM CEO Éric Alan Caldwell and CEO Marie-Claude Léonard confirmed that, despite the financial challenges, the service offering will not only be maintained but improved as originally planned.

From autumn, dozens of additional departures will be added on 75 bus lines – we promise up to 30% additional departures on certain lines – while maintaining the optimized Métro offer currently in force while allowing an operational margin to look at major summer events, the STM specifies.

Recall that last November, the STM projected a deficit of nearly $78 million for 2023. A difficult financial situation that suggested a reduction in service offerings instead of the frequency increases promised for 2023.

To cushion the blow, STM also had to announce $18 million in spending cuts in February. But additional funding from Quebec has helped bring the STM’s books back into balance.

Quebec to the rescue

According to STM Director-General Marie-Claude Léonard, the financial support Quebec provided to transit companies this year brought the ARTM an additional $39.4 million. This allowed us, the STM, to raise an additional $26.5 million this year, explained Ms. Léonard.

After confirmation of the additional funding by the ARTM […]“, the implementation of a plan to reduce STM expenses and the savings achieved by optimizing its service offering over the last six months, the Société will be able to close its budget for 2023 in balance,” says the STM happily.

Balanced is a big word as the STM is still $23.2 million off the books to complete its 2023 budget.

“There remains a remainder of 23.2 million, […] It becomes a regional risk, a financial risk that applies to the metropolitan area under the direction of the ARTM. »

— A quote from Marie-Claude Léonard, General Director of the Société de transport de Montréal

Of course, as managers of a transport company, we will do everything we can to reduce costs as much as possible, but if this risk materializes, it is not at the expense of the STM, Ms Leonard explained.

Always stable traffic

In terms of ridership, the STM network was at 74% of pre-pandemic levels for the week of April 24, which is forecast to be between 70% and 80% for the period. “That bodes well for next autumn,” commented Marie-Claude Léonard.

Workers in a subway station.

Special Police Officers are very busy in the corridors and stations of the Montreal Metro.

Photo: Radio Canada

This budget improvement will also allow the transit company to improve safety and cleanliness on the subway.

On May 4, the STM also announced the addition of special police officers in network stations and the establishment of a new security unit consisting of 20 civilians by next summer in order to improve the quality of the customer experience.

We keep the subway offer, the improvement is achieved with the addition of almost 60 resources: special constables, ambassadors, station maintenance workers, etc., listed Éric Alan Caldwell

The news was well received by Trajectoire Québec, an organization dedicated to promoting citizens’ rights in the field of public transport. “A closed budget that allows for expanded service offerings beginning in the fall is a good day for users throughout the Montreal area who can expect more frequent bus routes,” said Sarah V. Doyon, executive director of the organization.

While this obviously doesn’t result in a change in mobility, it still represents an improvement in service that is greatly appreciated, she added.

“When we expand the range of services, we increase traffic. »

– A quote from Sandra V. Doyon, Managing Director of Trajectoire Québec

Ms. Doyon also congratulated the STM’s efforts in subway safety. When we begin to reduce our sense of safety on the subway, it can impact our decisions about whether or not to ride the subway. Of course we want to avoid that at all costs.

Over $2.1 billion in government support

When asked by Radio-Canada if it intends to maintain the additional funds it pays to public transit over the long term, the Office of Transport Secretary Geneviève Guilbault replied that it intends to continue to provide a reliable, frequent and reliable service and to develop a fast service offering for users of public transport.

Communications director of Ms Guilbault’s office, Maxime Roy, recalled that the government has earmarked US$400 million in its 2023 budget to ensure funding for public transport, adding that the minister was carrying out her public transport financing consultation tour continues to present a five-year financial framework.

The Legault government has so far committed more than $2.1 billion to support public transit companies.

According to the Montreal opposition, there is no reason to celebrate

On the benches of opposition to the Parish Council, we regret that once again it is the ARTM and the Government of Quebec who are pulling the chestnuts out of the STM.

“The STM cannot tell us whether it expects to run a deficit in 2024, whether it can support this expansion of the range of services and what strategies it intends to pursue. »

— A quote from Alba Zuniga Ramos, spokeswoman for Ensemble Montréal on transportation

Alba Zuniga Ramos, Ensemble Montreal spokeswoman for transportation, believes that STM is a hero in this story when it saved $10 million by eliminating bus routes with a maximum wait time of 10 minutes, and regrets that users need to be patient and join in.