Dozens of front-line workers of transit agencies across Quebec protested in front of the head office of Geneviève Guilbault Tuesday.
The employees are calling on the transport minister to invest far more in public transit, warning that service cuts could be coming in 2024.
“We hope that Minister Guilbault will understand that if we want to have people taking the bus, they have to put more money,” Julie Sigouin, the president of the bus driver’s union for the Société de transport (STL) in Laval, told Global News.
Sigouin says the money being offered from the government now will just barely maintain existing services and more is needed to add buses to the network.
Sigouin is also a bus driver in Laval and says some lines are full to capacity and more money is needed to meet demand.
But the transport minister insists the government has invested record amounts of money in developing public transit projects in the last five years and Quebec lawmakers are covering 70 per cent of the transit agencies’ projected 2024 deficits.
“Is it not realistic to think that the government can have hundreds of millions of dollars every year without having anything to say about the way that they spend the money,” Guilbault said.
Guilbault is calling for independent audits of Quebec’s transit agencies to see if there are ways to save money and boost revenues.
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“Is there a way to manage those societies in a most efficient way so we don’t have those deficits year after year?” she said.
The budgets of the agencies are expected to be released before the end of the year.
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