In order to regain all its ridership after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) wants to “reinvent itself” but above all to show the various governments that it is a “good investment”.
Posted at 12:26 p.m
“We are very aware that if we cut the service, we will not win them back, these users. We need to win back our portion of goodwill and are therefore restructuring the financing. For us, that means solid relationships with our partners, including Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and others,” explains the organization’s Chairman of the Board, Éric Alan Caldwell, in an interview with The press.
He reiterates that the transport company will have a lot to do in the coming months to “convince its partners” and “demonstrate the effectiveness of the investment that we will ensure”. “Beyond the services, we have a lot of convincing to do, to find solutions and to think about the mechanisms of public transport. Saying that we lack money is easy, but finding and structuring it is more difficult,” argues the STM president.
This all comes as STM’s board of directors approved the appointment of Marie-Claude Léonard as general manager on Friday. The former operations manager of the tube and bus network has been in action since the departure of her predecessor Luc Tremblay in April. Mme Léonard, who has been with STM for 30 years, including 20 years as a manager, has climbed through several levels throughout his career, starting in particular as a cashier during his studies.
In a statement on Friday, the concerned director said she wanted to “highlight the full potential of the company’s employees, who will help modernize the organization and make it even more efficient to meet the expectations of our customers and future generations as a leader in sustainable ways.” Mobility”.
“The post-pandemic challenges are great for STM, but I am confident that you will rise to the occasion. Our administration is thrilled to work with you to promote mass transit,” Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante replied on Friday.
to find solutions
In his opinion, given the new realities imposed by hybrid work, the financing of public transport remains “a major challenge for which all the solutions have not yet been found”. “We cannot say that everything is clear, that everything is still free, but I certainly feel a mobilization to move on to another phase,” says Mr. Caldwell.
Currently, approximately 62% of total pre-pandemic ridership is back on Montreal’s public transit system. About 59% of subway users have returned and on the buses we are reaching 65%. Over time, since the beginning of the pandemic, several traffic forecasts have proved inaccurate in the face of the new waves of contamination.
“It’s clear that all of these predictions need to be recycled,” says Éric Alan Caldwell. For me, the key lies in agility, i.e. collecting data to really understand people’s needs. You have to bet on that. By wanting to make predictions too much, we miss the mark. »
As for the new Director-General, Mr Caldwell confirms that several “very high profile applications” have been received, but that the profile of Mrme Leonard still excelled. “It was a front race, with a whole process behind it. But it was she who stood out. His experience will be very relevant for us. She led the STM crisis team during the pandemic. And she has never preferred the status quo. We agree on one point: things can’t go on like this at STM,” he recalls.
When he left his position, Luc Tremblay – who had been with the company for 28 years – lamented that two fundamental elements were missing to realize the full potential of the STM: “an overhaul of public transport financing and efficient governance in the metropolitan area.
“The funding structure, which dates back to the 1990s, is completely detached from the new needs of our sector,” he added in a thinly veiled attack on the Regional Metropolitan Transport Authority (ARTM). He had clearly denounced that his administration “is dysfunctional in a number of ways and is slow to bring the associated benefits, with the result that the development of public transport in the region is hampered”.
- This is the completion rate of STM projects according to its 2021 annual report. As the major mobility project in the metropolis, the blue line budget of 6.4 billion was approved by Quebec and Montreal in March. Savings of approx. 1.1 billion were achieved compared to the acquisition costs. The project is scheduled to be handed over in 2029.
Quebec Ministry of Transportation (MTQ)