A Metropolitan Coalition to Boost Public Transit in Greater Montreal
Montreal, September 1, 2005 While the federal and provincial governments are still negotiating the terms of the final agreement on transferring to municipalities a part of the federal excise tax on gasoline for infrastructure projects, a metropolitan coalition in favour of public transit headed by Montreal Mayor and Chairman of the Metropolitan Montreal Community (MMC), Gérald Tremblay, is enjoining the Quebec government to take advantage of these new revenues to ensure not only the maintenance of existing equipment, but also to execute new projects with a view to boosting public transit in Greater Montreal. The coalition also underscores the importance of finding a quick solution to the problem of public transit operating costs.
The coalition, which consists of municipal elected officials and representatives of Greater Montreal civil society, was formed on April 14 during the Forum métropolitain sur le financement du transport en commun.
Thanks to the agreement in principle reached in June between the federal and Quebec governments, Greater Montreal will receive $430 million for public transit for 2006-2010. However, although both governments are still negotiating the final agreement, which must be concluded by October 31, the members of the coalition note that there are still a number of outstanding issues.
More specifically, the Quebec government has still not clearly indicated the impact this agreement will have on existing funding programs.
According to indications from the Quebec government, most of the new revenues intended for public transit will be devoted to upgrading existing infrastructures. As such, according to an assessment by the ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ), the region requires an investment of $4.6 billion in capital assets over the next ten years, including $3.5 billion for maintenance projects. For its part, the MMC estimates that $7.2 billion will be required over 15 years for the public transit capital projects currently being contemplated. The difference between the amounts put forward by the MTQ and the CMM is due to the fact that the MMC takes into account $2.9 billion in development projects provided for in the Greater Montreal Area Transportation Management Plan.
The members of the coalition are asking for assurance from the government that the proceeds from the federal excise tax on gasoline will be used not only to maintain existing equipment but also to step up the implementation of planned projects. These new funds should, in effect, act as a lever to execute more projects than the existing financial resources permit. Among the public transit projects considered for the region, the coalition has identified the following priorities:
- Add commuter train lines to connect Montreal to Mascouche and Repentigny and a shuttle connecting the Montréal-Trudeau Airport with downtown Montreal ;
- Operate an LRT service our of Longueuil along Autoroute 10;
- Extend the metro to Anjou .
A technical committee consisting of representatives from the different bodies and organizations represented within the coalition will conduct a detailed analysis of the impact these projects will have on traffic in the system, as well as their financial implications.
In its project to decentralize public transit adopted in February 2005, the MMC proposed that a portion of the federal excise tax on gasoline intended for public transport be funnelled into a metropolitan capital asset fund for public transit. The metropolitan coalition in favour of public transit is reiterating the MMC's proposal, pointing out that such a fund would make it possible to ensure stable funding, integrated planning and stepped up public transit investments in the region.
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To summarize, the metropolitan coalition to boost public transit in Metropolitan Montreal is asking the Quebec government to:
- Confirm that it will maintain the existing capital asset financing rules and continue its efforts in terms of funding public transit;
- Update its contribution to the assistance program for public transit operations;
- Reaffirm in the final agreement that the funds it will make available to municipalities and organizations will constitute a new form of financial assistance and that they do not include nor replace the existing federal and provincial funds for municipal and local infrastructures;
- Reaffirm in the final agreement that the funds covered by the agreement are in addition to the provincial funds currently made available to municipalities and municipal organizations for municipal and local infrastructures;
- Funnel to a metropolitan capital assets fund the revenues from the federal excise tax on gasoline dedicated to public transit, the additional amount resulting from the Layton agreement and its financial contribution to public transit entrusted to the Societé de financement des infrastructures locales (SOFIL);
- Undertake to give the MMC new fiscal latitude to resolve the problem of financing public transit operating costs.
Members of the metropolitan coalition to boost public transit in Greater Montreal :
- Gérald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal and Chairman of the MMC
- Réjean Boyer, Mayor of Vaudreuil and Chairman of the Commission de transport de la CMM
- Gaétan Châteauneuf, Second Vice-President of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)
- Claude Dauphin, President of the Société de transport de Montréal
- Pierre Dupuis, Quebec Director of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and Vice-President of the STQ
- Marc G. Fortier, President and CEO of Montréal International
- Claude Gladu, President of the Réseau de transport de Longueuil
- Isabelle Hudon, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
- Jean-Luc Labrecque, President of the Association des conseils intermunicipaux de transport
- Richard Lessard, Director of the Direction de la prévention et de la santé publique, Agence de santé et de services sociaux de Montréal
- Jean Léveillé, President of Transport 2000 Québec
- Robert Perreault, Executive Director of the Conseil régional en environnement de Montréal
Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal
Telephone: (514) 350-2550