Number of buses in circulation | The STM refuses to provide its targets without an agreement on financing

To the official opposition which is calling on it to “rule publicly” on the future of the bus network, at a time when more than 150 urban vehicles at the end of their useful life will be withdrawn from circulation, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM ) replies that it will only do so once the financing conditions are known.

“We ask to have the right information, because there, the information arrives in dribs and drabs, depending on the reports that we manage to dissect. We want to know exactly where they are, and what their game plan is for the coming years,” says the mayor of Montreal North, Christine Black.

She will table a motion at the next municipal council, on May 13, asking the Montreal carrier to “clarify the planning of the bus network” until 2030, and this by this fall. “The STM must be transparent. This uncertainty puts ridership and services at risk. If we have fewer buses on the streets, it’s necessarily because they cut left and right,” says Black.

The text of the motion refers to remarks made during a public meeting of the STM board of directors in April. The general director Marie-Claude Léonard then recognized that 155 urban buses were “scrapped” because they had reached the end of their useful life of 16 years, all with a view to “sound management of public funds” .

She thus responded to a question asked by a representative of the Montreal Transport Union, Simon-Pierre Robillard. The latter then deplored that “the bus revenues for this year, as minimal as they are, do not compensate for this figure”.

“We will save around 1 million in our operating and maintenance costs. These are buses for which we had a much too high reserve rate. (…) We’re still buying 34 hybrid buses through that, but it’s not 1 for 1 that we’re doing at this moment,” M Léonard, confirming that for the moment, the Montreal bus fleet hovers around 1,850 vehicles.

Everything will depend on what happens next

By email, a spokesperson for the company, Amélie Régis, said Thursday that her group “will be there if the financing necessary to increase the service offering materializes in the coming years.” “We remain ready to increase the service offering in public transport when lasting solutions to the funding crisis are found,” she persists.

It is still unclear how negotiations on this subject with Quebec will conclude, but it should be done by this summer. Monday, The Press revealed that the Legault government intends to absorb around 70% of the “cyclical” deficit of Greater Montreal’s transport companies, estimated at 284 million for 2025.

In the short term, “the scrapping of these buses will not impact the level of service delivered this year and the following years”, affirms Mme Regis. “This decision will also generate more space in garages and facilitate work related to the electrification of transport centers,” she maintained.

The 300 new buses promised by Valérie Plante during the election campaign, which had been planned well before the pandemic, have already been acquired and integrated into STM transport centers between 2019 and 2022.

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  • 28%
    This was the reserve rate for STM buses until now. The reduction in the fleet of 155 buses will bring it to 23%, “which is closer to a more efficient operational level and comparable to others”, according to the carrier.


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