City says it needs more cash to reach public transit goals
Published Wednesday, August 14, 2013 5:00PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 15, 2013 7:38AM EDT
The city of Montreal says it has reached and even surpassed many of its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the past five years, but says the next five years may prove to be a challenge without an influx of cash.
The city’s own report card is based on a ten-year transit plan with an aim to invest in public transit and encourage cycling and carpooling. At the mid-term point, the city says it is happy with what it’s achieved.
“We are very proud of what we have done with the cycle path,” said executive committee member Real Menard. Even though the city fell short of its goal of 800 kilometres, the bike path now totals 602 kilometres.
Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron said that’s not enough.
“If you consider bike paths,” said Bergeron, “It is not that expensive. Why are they so late compared to the program in 2008? That is in the plan.”
The city has exceeded its objectives with public transit; metro users increased by 12 per cent, setting a new record for the STM. Last year alone, 412 million passengers used the system.
The STM has also increased service by 26 per cent, including an improved bus network and easier access to metros.
The issue moving forward, it says, is financing. The city said it needs new sources of money because with so many projects to be completed, it needs to spend about $240 million per year to be on track, but so far it has only been able to spend $82 million.
Projects on the horizon include extending the metro's blue line, or perhaps building a tramway. The city needs to make up $160 million a year to be on track.
“If we don't have a gas tax plan, if we don’t have a toll system, if we don't have other sources of financing, Montreal will not be able to find inside its current budget the level of money it needs,” said Menard, adding that it will be up to the next administration and mayor to fight for these new sources of revenue.
Some politicians say they are making it a priority.
“We are going to have a practical balance plan of different resources of revenue that we think will the population will endorse,” said coalition candidate Martin Rotrand.
Critics argue the city has made pleas for years, with no change, so the plan may have to be scaled back.