City of Quebec According to the signatories of an open letter sent to “Devoir”, the tram remains the best solution to ensure fluidity on Quebec's roads in the coming decades.
At a time when the fate of the tramway still arouses uncertainty in the CAQ offices, 14 former elected officials from the City of Quebec take up their pens to come to its defense and remind us that the former administrations had also had to face “resistance to change” of a capital that has remained faithful to the car.
In an open letter sent to Devoir, the signatories recall that public transportation in Quebec has often been a bumpy road and that today's opposition echoes yesterday's discontent .
Free opinion | Making what is necessary possible with the tram
“When we implemented the Métrobus in Quebec in 1992, it was I who was president of the transport company,” remembers Claude Larose, former president of the defunct Société de transport de la Communauté Urbaine de Québec (STCUQ) between 1989 and 1998. At that time, he explains, there was a strong opposition movement and curiously, when people saw the result a few weeks after the inauguration, everything was back to normal. Everyone agreed, everyone asked that the network be extended in their neighborhood. »
At the time, the arrival of “good frequency service on all major routes” had halted the decline in which public transport had been mired for years. “Public transportation lost significant credibility in the 1980s,” adds Claude Larose. The Métrobus had changed the situation. »
He believes that Quebec now has the maturity to equip itself with a tramway, an option, he would like to point out, that has been under study for 20 years in the region. The Quebec capital, “the only city of this size without a structuring transport network in Canada,” he recalls, “has today reached the maximum of what its Métrobuses have to offer. »
“We must now move on to the tramway stage, believes Claude Larose. It was already the natural evolution of public transportation in Quebec 20 years ago, under Jean-Paul L’Allier. »
The best solution
If he and his 13 co-signatories decide to make their voices heard, it is to set the record straight at a time when the future of the tramway is once again struggling. Since its defeat during the Jean-Talon by-election, the CAQ has evoked a consultation with still imprecise contours, the rumor of a possible referendum is floating in Quebec and the government publicly supports, but only with lip service, this project already estimated at more than 4 billion dollars.
According to the signatories, the tram remains the best solution to ensure fluidity on Quebec's roads in the coming decades. It is also an essential investment if the CAQ government wants to show its seriousness in achieving its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“The solo car is an unsustainable travel model for long term, particularly in terms of public finances,” they write. Closing the public stock market at a time when the construction of the tramway is about to get underway, the group believes, would end up costing much more.
“The increase in costs will not just hit the tramway: it will also apply to highways, it will be there for all the major works that we are going to do,” notes Claude Cantin, also former president of the STCUQ. The city has already invested $350 million in the tramway. It's difficult to say: we'll stop everything and maybe start again one day when costs are lower. We would have to start from the beginning: costs will never be lower. »
Claude Cantin specifies that the federal windfall, which undertakes to cover 40% of the tram bill, is a precious commodity, because it is particularly rare. “The federal government never had a public transportation policy. When there was money, he put a little in and when there wasn't any, he didn't put any in. Today, the situation is favorable for the tramway: we must not miss it. »
Their open letter follows the call from Mayor Bruno Marchand, who recently invited parties in favor of the tramway to come forward. The Quebec Chamber of Commerce and Industry has long expressed the need for a tramway in the capital to attract labor and maintain its economic growth.
Last week, it was tour of the J'ai ma passe group, supported by Industrial Alliance, the Desjardins Movement, the National Bank and Laval University, reiterated its support. In terms of sustainable mobility, he wrote, “the REM [Réseau express métropolitain] cannot remain the only major project to have come to fruition in 20 years.”