Montreal, September 26, 2000 - Despite the assurances at the beginning of the year by the MUCTC Director General, Jacques Fortin, that the corporation would maintain 100% of its planned services and would honour the schedules posted on the planibus, we see now that budgets are tight, the quality of service to users has greatly deteriorated, and it is our drivers, our operators, and our coin changers, those on the front lines, who are obliged to cope with the understandable discontent of these same users, deplored Serge Lavoie, president of Local 1983 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-QFL).
The drivers are paying for this under-funding
Since the decision by the provincial government to opt out of funding public transit in 1992, MUC elected officials have consistently reduced their annual grants to the MUCTC budget, for a total cut of $266 million to date.
This means, for example, that buses that used to run every 10 minutes now run every 20 minutes or do not run at all; these buses are full of dissatisfied users who tend to vent their anger on the first MUCTC that they see, the driver, operator or coin changer. It is easy to understand the dissatisfaction of the user who plans his trip according to the schedules posted on the planibus and then these schedules are simply not honoured because of budget cutbacks, added Mr. Lavoie.
For logical discourse on integrated public transit
MUC elected officials who maintain chronic under-funding of public transit on Montreal Island, like the provincial government and its opting-out policy, are contributing directly to subverting the laudable efforts of the Metropolitan Transit Agency, especially with respect to the hoped-for improvements in suburban train service.
With the development of new lines and the increased frequency of suburban trains, it is as if a run-down house were prettied up with a lovely pink marble entrance way. That run-down house is the transit network on the island itself. MUC elected officials and the provincial government must both inject vast sums of money if we are to have quality service on the island. If not, suburbanites will quickly become disenchanted with their train service, affirmed Pierre Dupuis, Quebec director of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Feeding the frenzy of over-loaded bridges
If the government did long-term planning, it would quickly realize that the solution to over-loaded access roads to Montreal Island lies not in the building of new bridges or new roads. It lies in improving the quality of the public transit network on the island, along with a vigorous campaign to sensitize suburbanites about the need for public transit.
They go together, and any inaction feeds the vicious circle of the over-loaded bridges. The suburbanite, disillusioned by the cutbacks in service, the cuts to lines, the long waits, and the lack of buses, wastes no time in jumping into one of the two cars waiting in the garage, even if it means being stuck in heavy traffic, insists Serge Lavoie.
We must apply solutions right away!
The government must immediately give the MUCTC the funding needed to make public transit viable on the island. That means buying more buses and hiring more drivers. The president of the MUCTC board, Frank Zampino, must intervene vigorously with his municipal counterparts so that they will increase their share of the MUCTC budget.
MUCTC drivers, operators, and coin changers are in no way responsible for cutbacks in service. On the contrary, they invite the public to show their dissatisfaction to elected officials as well as to the MUCTC. To this end, a massive handout of explanatory brochures will take place on Thursday, September 28, in addition to various representations, especially before the MUCTC board of directors, and ads in the daily newspapers, concluded the president of the union.
Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (QFL)