MONTREAL – revenues from the purchase of transportation tickets in the greater Montreal area have practically disappeared just a few days after the beginning of the confinement related to the COVID-19.
The closure of schools, day-care services and the recommendations to employers to encourage teleworking announced by the government Legault in mid-march have been extremely sore to the income of the regional Authority of metropolitan transport (ARTM).
The organization that funds the services offered by the four major transport companies of the metropolis has experienced a decline of 95% of the revenues related to the purchase of individual securities, and less than a week after the start of the confinement, show documents obtained by 24 Hours via the Law of access to information.
These securities are usually purchased by casual users of public transport.
On the side of public transport tickets monthly, there was a decrease of 94% in April 2020, compared to the same month in the previous year.
And users are still far from resuming their habit of displacement: drops from 50 to 95 % of the traffic usual are always observed in the various services of bus, train and metro of the metropolitan area.
ARTM estimates its loss of revenue linked to the pandemic at 523 M$ for the year 2020, in particular due to the drop in sales of tickets. These impacts could have far-reaching consequences on the service in the coming years.
“The contribution of all will be needed to meet this historic challenge to ensure the sustainability of the quality of services and the accessibility of the public transport”, explains the spokesperson of the ARTM, Simon Charbonneau.
Income of$ 19 Million rather than$160 Million
ARTM anticipated revenue tariff of the order of 969 M$ a total of$ 2.7 billion in 2020. However, it has collected only$ 19 Million of the$ 160 Million planned in the most recent budget for the months of April and may.
In a letter addressed to the minister of Transport of Quebec on the 20th of march, the ARTM, said he was “very concerned” by the decrease of tariff revenues.
It was not until three months later, on 18 June, that the government of Québec has provided to organizations and companies of public transport of the province an emergency financial assistance of $ 400 million. This amount should help to ensure the continuity of services in spite of the pandemic of COVID-19.
The financial losses associated with the tax on gasoline may for their part vary between 25 to$ 36 Million in 2020, confirms the ARTM. This last was projecting revenues of$ 159 Million from motorists in the most recent budget.
Drop-in service to provide?
In order to control the bleeding in its finances, the regional Authority of metropolitan transport (ARTM) has called on the leaders of transport companies of the greater Montreal area to plan a service less than or similar to that offered before the pandemic.
This is what was stated by the ARTM with the leaders of four organizations, public transit (OPTC) in an email sent on the 1st of may last.
For example, the Société de transport de Laval (STL), exo and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) may need to reduce service on some bus routes or train according to the traffic observed.
Last week, the réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) has announced a reduction of 15 % of its bus service starting in September, always at the request of the ARTM, according to the release. The carrier has faced a decline of 70% of its traffic as usual.
Should we expect a decrease in supply of similar service on the side of Montreal and Laval?
ARTM refuses to go forward, but drives home the point that the OPTC have never had the logs cut in the supply of public transit service for the new school year in September.
“It is currently premature to qualify or quantify the level of service that will be offered throughout the fall starting in September,” said the spokesperson Simon Charbonneau, adding that the Authority and its partners have begun planning for measures to reduce spending.
Occasions of the perception
The gradual recovery of the boarding from the front in the buses of the metropolis, should give a boost to the finances of the ARTM.
From next Monday, users of the STM will need to repeat to validate their tickets at the edge of a forty bus lines. By the end of August, the collection is expected to be required again over the whole of 225 bus routes of the operator.
Since the 1st of July, users of exo, which manages the buses on the north and south suburbs of Montreal, must present a valid ticket when boarding.