STM - Society in motion
The STM adopted its 2020 Strategic Plan this fall and it has since been approved by both the City and Agglomeration of Montréal. The budgetary and financial challenges outlined in the plan are two-fold: find the funds to FIRST maintain our aging infrastructure and renew our fleet of buses and rolling stock AND find the funds to raise the quality of our services to increase ridership by 40% and thereby reach 540 million passenger rides by 2020.
The required investments total $11.5 B, of which $8 B is ear-marked for maintaining current assets and $3.5 B will be used to develop new services. Given the context, the matter of funding becomes a key issue.
The two main funding sources available to us to finance our annual operations, fare revenue (48%) and a contribution by the City taken from property taxes (35%), have reached their limit. In coming years, their levels will only rise according to the inflation index.
Other sources of funding widely used elsewhere each present advantages and disadvantages: taxes on gas, taxes on petroleum products, tolls for infrastructure, cordon tolls, taxes on parking spaces, increased car registration fees, a percentage of sales taxes, payroll taxes, etc.
A recent survey presented by Radio-Canada last November 22 shows that more than two-thirds of Montréal area residents are in favour of bringing back tolls if and only if the amounts collected are reinvested in improvements to road infrastructure and public transit.
The STM recommends a higher level of participation by Montréal area motorists and by those in the rest of Québec through a range of measures, composed mainly of a tax on gas (from various funds), a tax on parking, registration fees or even a percentage of revenue from tolls set up throughout the metropolitan area. Without a dedicated, indexed and recurrent source of funds, we cannot further expand our offer of service and still be at the forefront of the sustainability so crucial to the development and attractivity of Québec’s major city over the next 20 years.
Which one of these means of financing seems the soundest ? The fairest ? The most efficient ?
In which proportion should those who use the service (customers), those who indirectly benefit from the service (motorists) and city residents contribute ?
Does the idea of sharing the various funds, with 50% for public transit and active means of transport and 50% for road infrastructure, seem fair to you ?
Which method of financing sends out the clearest message so that a proportion of single-occupant car users (5%) modify their commuting habits on occasion, often or always ?
I’m putting these questions to you. I look forward to reading your comments and further discussing the subject with you.
You can look up the following links for more food for thought on the subject:
• My thoughts on tolls (French only)
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