Many stakeholders in the Quebec school transportation world have denounced the de facto monopoly granted to Saint-Jérôme Lion Électrique through an enhanced support program from the Legault government.
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The $250 million program announced at the end of April by Quebec aims to provide electricity to school transportation by 2030. It provides a subsidy of $150,000 per vehicle for the purchase of electric buses made in Canada.
The problem is that Lion Électrique, of Saint-Jérôme, is currently one of the only large companies that can benefit from this programme, according to stakeholders contacted.
According to our information, Quebec companies and institutions are planning to raise this issue during a press conference scheduled for this week.
Véronique Dubé, Vice President of Operations at Autobus Thomas, in Drummondville, deplores the fact that the program is currently outrageously benefiting Lion.
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His company has about fifty workers. She works in Quebec and the Maritimes.
“The program totally favors another player for the electrification of school transportation. The burden that the government has just placed on a start-up company is still too much of a burden. It is dangerous to put 100% of the burden on a startup,” she says.
According to the latter, many jobs could be at stake for companies operating here in the field of school transportation.
“Under the assistance program, only Lion are eligible, because their buses are assembled in Canada. It will cause a problem. We have doubts about whether they can deliver the goods,” says Luc LaFrance, president of the Federation of Quebec Bus Carriers.
“Of course, if there was competition, it would be better,” he said.
Very fast ?
According to him, past experience was not always positive.
“When you have a problem with the electricity, you have to pull the bus to St. Jerome,” he explains.
According to an operator of a small fleet of school buses who requested anonymity, under an upcoming bill, operators will soon be forced to purchase electric buses. “It’s dangerous, it’s very fast,” he said.
Leon spokesman Patrick Gervais, who was called in to respond, said the measures were beneficial to the local economy and that the problems Leon had faced in recent years had been rectified.
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