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Public transportation financing  Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are calling on the federal government to speed up

Public transportation financing Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are calling on the federal government to speed up

Facing “exploding population growth and mounting financial pressures,” transit companies in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are uniting and urging Ottawa to move forward with its investments in public transit.


“It would be inconceivable for us to cancel public transportation services or delay the repair and replacement of our aging transportation infrastructure due to the delay in the allocation of available funds,” insists the general manager of the STM. ), Marie-Claude Leonard.

His group released a joint brief on Tuesday, with TransLink and the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC), at the dawn of the federal budget that must be presented on April 16.

Portrait of Charles William Pelletier, private collaboration with the press

Marie-Claude Leonard, general manager of the Montreal Transport Company

We read in particular that the STM estimates the investments needed over ten years to “maintain and improve” the reliability of the Montreal Metro at 16.5 billion. Montreal's 2024-2033 capital expenditure program already provides total expenditures of more than $26 billion.

And in Toronto, the TTC says it “needs an additional investment of $1.8 to $2.3 billion annually over the next 15 years” in government support in order to modernize the subway network and make the bus fleet carbon neutral. The Toronto organization already plans to spend $47.8 billion by 2038, but of that number, $35.5 billion has not yet been funded.

To the west, Vancouver's TransLink is planning $20 billion in investments over the next 10 years, but also a 50% increase in annual operating costs, representing about an additional $1.2 billion.

Photo by David Boyle, Press Archive

And in Toronto, the TTC says it “needs an additional investment of $1.8 to $2.3 billion annually over the next 15 years” in government support in order to modernize its subway network and make its fleet more efficient.

Permanent box

In the face of these enormous needs, the three groups are demanding more funding promised in the new Permanent Fund for Public Transport. Payments must be made in 2026, but carriers would like to see them generated “at the beginning of 2024”, i.e. now.

It also calls on transportation companies to double the Canadian Community Futures Fund (CCBF) and create a “long-term sustainable financing model adapted to public transportation.”

In Montreal, these funds will cover part of the $3.9 billion bill required to replace, maintain and store a fleet of MR-73 vehicles that have reached the end of their production life. The new train control systems that will be installed on the Green, Orange and Yellow lines will cost $3 billion in the short term, in addition to asset maintenance needs estimated at $3.2 billion.

Photo by Payne Stanley, Canadian Press Archives

Vancouver-based TransLink is planning $20 billion in investments over the next 10 years, but also a 50% increase in annual operating costs, representing about an additional $1.2 billion.

The purchase of electric buses also represents a heavy burden on the Montreal organization’s balance, as its costs are estimated at $1.7 billion over the next ten years. So far, STM has 41 electric buses, but plans to receive 46 in 2025, then 140 annually until 2040.

All this comes at a time when new negotiations must take place in Quebec between the government and carriers to find a way forward with the aim of creating a “recurring and predictable” funding framework over five years.

In the government budget, the amount planned over 10 years in the Plan du Québec Infrastructure (PQI) for public transportation did not change, remaining at 13.8 billion, the same level as last year. The way this amount will be divided is still unknown.

“Before cities are asked to levy more taxes, all levels of government must fund public transportation companies in line with their real needs,” Mayor Valerie Plante said Tuesday. Thus, she responded to Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, who confirmed in an interview with Montreal Journal That there are “too many vehicles” on the roads, calling on cities to address the issue.

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