CUPE’s Conseil provincial du secteur transport Terrestre, CPSTT, which represents thousands of bus drivers and office employees with transit companies in Quebec, has vehemently opposed a proposal by the CAQ government to pay only 20% of the anticipated $2.5 billion deficit of public transit companies for 2024-2028.
“What has happened to the promises that François Bonnardel made when he was the Minister of Transport in 2021 when he pledged to take action to avoid service cutbacks? Why is the new Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, not honouring the promises made by her government?” asks CPSTT President Marc Gingras.
The CPSTT believes that the government is heading down the wrong road, because the underfunding will result in service reductions, which will encourage the public to take their cars instead of public transit. The CPSTT points out that, according to all of the experts, adequate funding combined with effective service would make a difference in the fight against climate change and enable households to save some money. In addition, transport is the second highest budget item for families in Quebec who are severely affected by the cost of living.
Passenger traffic and fare revenues of transit companies have plummeted due to the upheavals caused by the pandemic. Their passenger traffic has still not returned to pre-pandemic levels. The rollout of the Réseau express métropolitain, REM, also severely cut into the funding of the three major public transit companies in the metropolitan area.
“It`s not just a matter of jobs. It`s also a societal choice we must make. Investment in public transit generates socioeconomic outcomes that benefit the public and Quebec’s economy while providing a credible alternative to the automobile,” added Gingras.
The CPSTT has reiterated its request to Minister Guilbault to honour the promises made by her predecessor to implement measures to avoid any new service cutbacks and to offer budget predictability to both municipalities and the transit companies.