Faced with a deficit of $78 million, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) announced on Tuesday February 21st 2023 that it was obliged to reduce its expenses by $18 million for 2023. This decision comes a few weeks after the STM ended its 10-minute bus service which we covered in Park-Extension news. Many Montrealers and especially Par-Exers were worried that other cuts could occur given that the neighborhood is serviced by multiple metro stations and buses.
This time, the reduction in expenses should not affect the service, promises the chairman of the board of directors of the STM. “These are various optimizations to reduce overtime, we have reorganized certain schedules, we have postponed communication campaigns and training programs”, specified Éric Alan Caldwell in a press scrum, Tuesday afternoon.
The latter also assured that no layoffs are expected at the Montreal transport company. A few days earlier, the STM nevertheless indicated a change in its management committee. It now has five executive directorates rather than eight. This reduction of $18 million therefore makes it possible to reduce the STM’s deficit to $60 million out of a total budget of $1.7 billion for 2023.
“Our efforts paid off,” Caldwell said. We are continuing our discussions with our partners because we have to find the rest of the equation. We’re confident we’ll get there.” For his part, the leader of the opposition at city hall thinks that Montrealers are “misled” and believes that this will be felt in service to users.
“What we do not tell them is that we have already cut and that we will continue to do so, reacted Aref Salem. Reducing overtime for employees, including bus drivers and mechanics, will inevitably reduce the quality and frequency of transport services.”
The STM deficit comes at a time when public transit ridership in Greater Montreal is struggling to regain popularity after the pandemic. Thus, the funding of Montreal public transit is no longer sufficient. Several organizations advocating for it are demanding more money from Quebec. However, Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault has not yet promised specific funding. She has simply committed to carrying out a consultation tour of public transport stakeholders, which will begin in March.