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A study on public transportation  Montreal’s network is less expensive than elsewhere, STM answers

A study on public transportation Montreal’s network is less expensive than elsewhere, STM answers

No, public transportation in Quebec City is no more expensive than it is in Toronto or Vancouver, the Montreal Transit Society (STM) is responding to researchers concerned about the higher costs of Quebec’s transportation networks compared to those in the rest of Canada.


“If we exclude costs related to debt servicing, STM’s operating expenses are actually $6.87 per kilometer traveled, which is the lowest among the three major networks and a cost in line with the Canadian average of $6.65 per kilometer,” the company insists. Spokesperson, Amelie Regis, via email.

This is how she reacted A study conducted by HEC Montreal researchers Jonathan Deslauriers, Robert Gagne, Anne-Gabriel Gendron, and Jonathan Parry, who compared the costs of 23 public transit companies in Canada, including 5 in Quebec, namely Montreal, Laval, Longueuil, Quebec, and Gatineau.

According to the researchers, Montreal has the most expensive network in terms of operating expenses per kilometer traveled, at $9.63 per kilometer, compared to $9.56 in Vancouver and $7.54 in Toronto. The gap between Montreal and Toronto is 28%, according to researchers’ calculations.

However, to compare operating expenses per kilometer, the researchers used “an index that includes expenses associated with debt servicing,” an item that is “unrelated to productivity and biases the comparison because not all networks report these costs in the same way.” “, denounces STM in its response.

M saysI Regis, who laments that “the same systemic problem appears for all Quebec networks.” “We will contact the authors of the study to evaluate it and request a correction,” she said.

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Different facts

In the study conducted by HEC Montreal professors, the four Quebec companies that do not have a metro network are well above the Canadian average ($6.65 per km). In the end, the researchers estimate that Quebec spends $8.09 per kilometer traveled by its buses, or 22% more than average, compared to $7.85 for Gatineau, $7.47 for Laval buses, and $7.22 for Longueuil buses.

However, “we cannot compare networks whose sizes and realities are so different,” STM laments on the subject. “The only relevant comparisons to the STM network are Vancouver and Toronto, particularly due to the presence of heavy media as well as the size and density of the metropolitan area served,” says Amelie Regis.

This confirms that Montreal Transit can only be compared to studies “where we analyze similar-sized metro and bus systems in different cities around the world.”

At the Regional Metropolitan Transport Authority (ARTM), the study has also been questioned. “The services are operated on a territory with its own characteristics, a fairly dense urban fabric, different typologies, etc. Sometimes it is tempting to compare data without taking into account the very different operating conditions and financing structures.

He stresses that his group has clearly positioned itself “on the need to improve the performance of public transportation.” Improvement projects “aimed at doing better, doing more, at better cost” were also launched this spring, notes Mr. Charbonneau, who specifies that “this exercise will continue in order to explore ways to replicate the improvement further.”

As for the office of Transport Minister Genevieve Guilbault, it welcomes the message that the study sends in substance. “We need to improve the efficiency of our transport companies. Operational efficiency, as shown in the study, is one of the main avenues of solutions to improve the services and finances of transport enterprises. Our actions are consistent with this,” Maxime Roy, the minister’s director of communications, said on Wednesday.

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All this happens while MI Guilbault should soon conduct performance audits at the 10 carriers. ARTM’s finances will also be examined by Quebec. The goal: “To make sure every dollar invested in public transportation is optimized,” asserts Mr. Roy.