The STM Plans To Cut Back Montreal Bus & Metro Service In 2023 Because It's Broke
They're $78M in the hole.
The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is strapped for cash and planning to cut back on services as a result. The transit agency released its 2023 budget at the end of November showing a $77.7M deficit and citing inflation and pandemic recovery as major shortfall drivers.
Some expenses were pushed to 2022 to cover emergency measures during the onset of COVID-19, around the time that pricey but necessary maintenance projects began on AZUR trains.
"Our goal is to maintain a level of service similar to 2022 but to do this we must have additional means that allow us to achieve that ambition," said STM Director General Marie-Claude Léonard.
"Constructive discussions" are underway between the STM and financial partners to identify solutions. In the meantime, there are plans to reduce train and bus frequency in early 2023.
Paratransit will continue unhindered. In fact, there will be 3.4 million more trips in 2023 — a 16% increase compared to 2022 — given the "critical importance" of the service.
The STM plans to invest $10B into infrastructure maintenance over the next five years (compared to $8.1 billion over the past decade). That will encompass the electrification of the bus network, along with the completion of the blue line extension. Elevator installation projects at inaccessible metro stations will also move ahead.
"We're focussing on value-added investments that will bring short-term benefits for current customers and dividends for future generations. We recognize the importance of public transit in the fight against climate change and must act now," said Éric Alan Caldwell, chairman of the STM's Board of Directors.
So far, there has been no mention of raising ticket prices to make up for the budget deficit.
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