The time has come to make sensible choices when it comes to sustainable mobility in Quebec.
With a provincial sustainable mobility policy yet to be adopted, and the recent announcement that the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec may get involved in major public transit projects, CAA-Quebec believes that our society needs efficient, responsible solutions. We face urgent problems—critical ones, even. There is no room for error, and more than ever, our collective ability to pay must factor into the decision-making process.
After 110 years of operation in Quebec, we believe that:
- sustainable mobility is not a choice, but a necessity, which no one can deny any longer; the automobile, however, remains the preferred mode of transportation of 80% of Quebec households, because it meets needs dictated by the occupation of such a vast area;
- public transit helps reduce traffic congestion and pollution, but can never completely fulfil the needs of the population across the province, and it would be a mistake to deny this reality when planning road and public transit infrastructures over the short, medium and long terms;
- mass-transit and automobile networks are complementary notions;
- the government must continue to work toward a mobility mix that includes automobiles, buses, the Montreal métro, ride-sharing and active transportation (walking and cycling);
- improvements to traffic flow in major urban centres must be at the core of solutions;
- inter-regional transportation must be improved in many areas, and solutions must be innovative and realistic;
- the supply of mass transit must be enhanced before addition of more tolls is considered, and this issue must first be thought through and submitted to widespread consultation;
- in properly guiding public authorities’ financing decisions, it is important above all to acknowledge the major contribution made by motorists to funding public transit.
CAA-Quebec believes that efficient solutions should be favoured over extravagant projects. The objective is clear: achieve concrete results at the best possible cost. Solutions include:
- encouraging development of ride-sharing by establishing conducive conditions such as reserved lanes and incentive parking;
- leveraging new technologies for ride-sharing;
- ensuring that suburbs are better served with higher-frequency transit schedules at rush hour;
- making public transit a more attractive option by ensuring on-time performance, increased supply, and sufficient express lanes;
- no longer pitting public and individual transportation against each other, instead rolling out complementary solutions that exploit their respective strengths;
- doing more to encourage purchases of electric vehicles as they become increasingly developed and available.
The question of public transit financing remains one of the most important aspects of the sustainable mobility issue, today and for the years to come.
CAA-Quebec’s position is that public transit benefits all of society. Therefore, additional financing must be secured from sources other than motorists, who already give their share.
- Use 100% of the amounts already set aside for transit improvements;
- Rely judiciously on the Building Canada Plan to enable projects to move forward;
- Use a land-value-capture financing model, targeting companies in proximity to public transit stations;
- Recover 100% of the revenues from the federal excise tax on gasoline;
- Index the annual contribution of $30 levied on vehicle registration renewals;
- Evaluate participation by owners of commercial vehicles in the vehicle-registration contribution scheme;
- Consider a payroll tax as a source of funding.
There is an obvious problem of consistency among elected officials, levels of government and transit authorities. We can and must do better than to have more than 700 different transit fares in the Greater Montreal Area. This is one reason why CAA-Quebec recommends the creation of a neutral, objective supra-regional body, which would:
- establish priorities for projects in a context where some choices are becoming very difficult to make;
- plan mass-transit infrastructures for reasons other than territorial concerns;
- standardize and group transit fares in Greater Montreal.
To enhance supply of public transit and address the real needs of the public, CAA-Quebec expects decision-makers to:
- focus sustainable-mobility efforts on completion of projects, instead of getting bogged down in administrative procedures;
- establish sound governance to ensure efficient management of funds earmarked for public transit;
- establish priorities for projects on a regional basis, using criteria grounded in the needs of Quebecers, without political interference;
- display exemplary accountability at every stage;
- demonstrate in clear, simple terms the objectives and intended benefits of each project.
The sustainable mobility choices that are required of us as a society will influence working methods for the years to come. The various levels of government and the transit authorities must invest efficiently in sustainable mobility while taking care to avoid “rate shock” for everyone—drivers and riders included. It is time for crucial decisions in Quebec, and it is imperative that we choose tried-and-tested solutions instead of relying on extravagant means.
CAA-Quebec press release, 2014-10-10
CAA-Quebec press release, 2013-06-27
Mémoire de CAA-Québec du 2013-06-01 (in French)PDF file – 1.8 MB
Mémoire de CAA-Québec du 2012-02-01 (in French)PDF file – 707 KB