Less gas, fewer cars: Quebec announces $3B in new money for sustainable transport
The Quebec government announced almost $3 billion in new funds for sustainable mobility projects on Tuesday as Premier Philippe Couillard said his administration is aiming to make Quebec a North American leader in sustainable mobility by 2030.
To that end, the government is aiming to give 70 per cent of the province’s population access to at least four sustainable transport services, with 20 per cent reductions in commute time, gross expenses for transport and solo car usage, as well as a 40 per cent reduction in the use of gasoline from 2013 levels.
The plan called for a 5 per cent per-year increase to public transportation, which Couillard said would hopefully translate into a 20 per cent increase in ridership on public transportation over 10 years.
"Pushing people towards something doesn't really work. Convince them they have a good option and they will choose it," said Couillard. "Let's say after we open the first section of the REM, you're sitting in your car in a traffic jam trying to cross the bridge and you see REM trains going by your side window every three minutes. It won't take long before you decide to leave the car at home."
Along with the metro, buses and REM light-rail system – promised to be running by 2021 – the provincial government said it's trying to encourage Quebecers to adopt other sustainable transport options, including carpooling, bicycle lanes and rideshares.
The government is also aiming for a 37.5 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels in the transport sector.
Couillard pointed to the recently announced extension to the Montreal metro blue line and the REM as massive boosts to public transport, calling their scope the largest provincial project since the James Bay hydroelectric dams.
Every year, Montrealers spend an average of 50 hours stuck in traffic, giving the city the dubious honour, according to the Global Traffic Scorecard, as the worst city in Canada in terms of gridlock.
Montreal city councillor Eric Caldwell said the city needs Quebec to pay up to relieve an already busy bus system.
“For that we will need more buses, more money in public transit,” he said. “If those promises are empty, if we don't achieve our goal, it will be a major failure.”
While the province is promising to work toward solutions on that, it is also focusing on the small scale – including what they call “the last mile” – getting commuters from the station to their homes.
“How do we get people to their door? It's one thing to get to the last REM station but it's another thing to wait there 20 minutes for the local bus to take you home,” said Transport Minister Andre Fortin.