Skip to main content

Ending the Metro at 11 p.m.? Montreal considering transit reductions amid funding spat with Quebec


Significant cutbacks are being considered in Montreal, including ending Metro service at 11 p.m., to cope with a potential reduction of public transit funding from the province.

Amid ongoing negotiations with public transit companies, Quebec's transport minister, Genviève Guilbault, warned earlier this week that the province cannot absorb their massive deficits. Calculations show a cumulative shortfall of $2.5 billion in five years if nothing changes between now and then.

The service reductions in Montreal, first reported by Radio-Canada, include ending evening Metro service at 11 p.m., stopping intercity bus routes after 9 p.m., and closing some routes.

"It's not something we want to do and I think that's our message here today," said Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer, whose residents also rely on the Metro system.

Boyer joined the mayors of the Greater Montreal Area, including Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, at a press conference Thursday to voice their concerns about the future of public transit funding.

The vast majority of the deficit comes from Montreal where 90 per cent of the shortfall stems from the city's public transit companies.

Guilbault initially made an offer of absorbing 20 per cent of deficits, which was swiftly rejected by transit companies and Montreal-area mayors.

"This is … a cry for help because we want to find a solution and we want to make sure that all of our citizens get the services they deserve, they expect from a big metropolitan area like Montreal. This is what it's all about. If we want to compete with other places in the world, we need to have a good transportation system," Plante said.

On Wednesday, Guilbault said the 20 per cent proposal was the government's first offer and is waiting for a counter-proposal. She recalled that the government had been there to help transit companies during the pandemic when ridership dropped.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility Genevieve Guilbault, speaks about new road safety measures at a press conference in Montreal, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

"We will continue to compensate for lost fare revenue, but should the government finance all operating expenses? That's where the whole question is," she said.

"I'm waiting for their second preposition and we're going to keep on talking and I'm sure we're going to have an agreement at the end."

Boyer said it's "unthinkable" to have to cut public transit service but said that's what is on the table to meet its budgetary needs.

"People still have to go to the hospital, to the school, to their workplace and I'm pretty sure if we have to cut down the Metro how many thousands of new cars will have to be on the roads and make traffic jams?" he said.

When asked for comment on the threat of service reductions, a spokesperson for the transport minister said she did not want to negotiate in public. Guilbault is expected to hold a meeting with the Montreal-area mayors on Friday to continue negotiations.


The CAQ is also facing pressure from opposition MNAs in the national assembly.

Etienne Grandmont, the Quebec Solidaire critic for transportation and sustainable mobility, said cutting transit service during a cost-of-living crisis would be "catastrophic" to families who rely on it.

"We knew the CAQ didn't have much interest in Montreal, but closing the metro at 11 p.m. and removing buses in 2023 is not only scandalous, it's irresponsible!" he said in a statement, which called on the CAQ to release the funding needed by transit operators.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

Stay Connected