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Transit companies want meeting with premier but Quebec transport minister says her offer is 'final'


Quebec's transport minister made it clear Monday when it comes to her offer to transit companies: there will be no more negotiating.

Geneviève Guilbault said Quebec will finance 70 per cent of Montreal-area transit companies' deficits and that her offer to the region's mayors last Friday was "final."

However, the 82 mayors who make up the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) are now asking for a meeting with the premier "to discuss and agree on a fair financial arrangement."

"While noting and welcoming the government's commitment to finance 70% of the residual deficit for the year 2024, the CMM mayors believe that this commitment must be based on the ARTM's actual deficit, which is not the case at present," reads a CMM press release sent on Monday.

Guilbault, who is also deputy premier, was firm on Monday, though, about her offer to the transit companies covered by the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM).

"This offer is final. We are granting $265 million dollars, in addition to everything we are already investing in public transportation. At the same time, we will work, in collaboration with cities and transport agencies, to optimize these investments to offer Quebecers optimal public transport services, throughout Quebec," she said in a statement.

The majority of provincial funds which will go to the Montreal region. The negotiations made waves last week when Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said services might have to be cut due to the shortfall, including stopping the Metro at 11 p.m. and cutting some bus lines.

Since then, the head of the STM and the ARTM, the agency that oversees transit in Montreal, have come out and said they don't want to cut services and they are examining ways to avoid it.

The CMM mayors are asking for financial assistance to the tune of $346 million, which would correspond to 75 per cent of the revised residual deficit estimated at $461.3 million for 2024. They are also calling for revenues from the vehicle registration tax voted by the CMM council last April, estimated at $122 million for 2024, to be earmarked to support the development of services.

"Without sufficient financial assistance from the government, public transit organizations (OPTCs) will be forced to cut services, which will inevitably have a direct impact on the daily lives of several hundred people, including a significant number of essential workers, in addition to increasing road congestion and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," the CMM said.

Last week, Guilbault said the ultimate goal is to come up with a five-year agreement on how much the government will pay and that an independent body will start auditing Quebec's 11 transit agencies to see how they spend their money.

With files from Noovo Info Top Stories

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