Tentative reassurance in local public transport management change
YLJ FILE PHOTO/JOHN JANTAK
A CIT La Presqu’Île number 35 bus on Joseph-Lafléche Avenue in Pincourt. The merger of 16 North Shore and South Shore public transit entities into two distinct bodies is resulting in the phase out of the CIT though the Transport Soleil adapted transit unit is, for now, not part of the merger.
The Conseil intermunicipale du transport (CIT) La Presqu'Île made the official announcement it will hand operational reins over to l’Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) and the Réseau de transport métropolitain (RTM) June 1 in accordance with Bill 76 that was adopted by the Quebec National Assembly in May, 2016. The bill merged public transport services of number of off island municipalities into the two organizations – one for existing train and bus services and the other to plan routes.
As reported in the April 13 Your Local Journal, the Town of Pincourt adopted a resolution at that month’s council meeting requesting the provincial government reconsider the changes saying it could adversely affect the quality of the transport service and increase existing costs.
But a mitigating factor in ensuring a smooth transfer of operations exists in the form of the interim retention of the current CIT La Presqu'Île staff members who understand the transport needs of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region.
“Our initial concern was that the staff would be picked from the various organizations and we would have no local representation,” said Hudson District 6 Town Councillor Natalie Best who is on the CIT La Presqu'Île Board of Directors. “It’s not only for public transit, but also for adapted transport with Transport Soleil.”
With CIT La Presqu'Île Director General Manon Charest staying on for the changeover period, Best said the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region maintains a voice for its public transport needs.
“With the passing of June 1 and falling into the new structure, we’re not losing (representation) in our region,” said Best.
Under the new organizational umbrella, the changeover should be transparent to the users.
“A recent development is Transport Soleil, being a non-profit, is not integrated into the RTM for now,” said Pincourt District 5 Councillor and CIT La Presqu'Île Board of Directors member Jim Miron.
Existing bus fares should remain unchanged for the time being. “What they’re going to do is review the fare structure by 2019,” said Miron. “We’re being promised that the portion of the operating costs that go to the municipalities will be stabilized until 2020.”
“We’ll see what our new reality will be when they begin sharing expenses over the whole territory,” said Best. The North and South Shore municipalities off the Island of Montreal have been told their costs will never be more than 30 per cent of the total operating budget.
According to a press release from the CIT La Presqu'Île, since its inception in 2005, routes have expanded from three to 26 and the number of trips has grown from 26,600 to almost 800,000 in 2016.