Province plans to cut spending on roads, boost spending on buses
Published Tuesday, February 11, 2014 12:30PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 11, 2014 8:41PM EST
The provincial government is getting mixed reviews for a plan to transfer $1 billion from general road and overpass maintenance to public transit upkeep.
Parti Quebecois Transportation Minister Sylvain Gaudreault made the announcement Tuesday, saying he also wants to see a 30 per cent increase in service for public transit by 2020.
The minister also said the number of transit agencies in the Montreal area need to be reduced, as does the number of fares.
There are currently about 700 different fares for those using public transit, and 16 different agencies administrating buses, trains, and the metro.
The minister, however, was short on specifics, saying transit financing would continue to be discussed with cities.
STM vice-president Marvin Rotrand said investing in transit pays off.
“The last big investment, between 2007 and the end of 2011, saw a 21 per cent increase in bus service at the STM and permanent increase in ridership by 12 per cent,” he said.
He added, however, that he wondered where that investment would come from.
"The needs are chronic, the needs are huge and the money has not been identified," said Rotrand.
The long-time politician suspected this was an election ploy to gain votes.
"I think in the transit community the reaction is cautiously optimistic, people are saying well there's an election coming, they don't want to antagonize anyone but they are really showing a favorable prejudice," said Rotrand.
Liberal transport critic David Heurtel wondered how the province could justify reducing expenditures on highway maintenance when overpasses are literally crumbling.
“We have transportation infrastructure that is crumbling and there's $1 billion worth of money that was earmarked to maintain that infrastructure, and now it's going to public transit, so what's going on with those projects?” he said.