Evidence of meeting #39 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was buses.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Étienne Lyrette  Corporate Advisor, Governmental Affairs, External Relations and Strategic Planning, Société de transport de Montréal
  • Serge Carignan  Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport
  • François Chamberland  Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

9:45 a.m.

Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

François Chamberland

In an airport, you—

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Willowdale, ON

I mean MAN, the German makers.

9:45 a.m.

Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

François Chamberland

Airport buses are special buses. They're much bigger, and since they don't go into the streets, the rule doesn't apply. You can buy whatever you want to ride on your private property. It's not a street, so they can use anything.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you.

Ms. Chow.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

I noticed that recently your ridership has gone up. Is that because of new technologies that you have used? I know that electric trains that I've taken are very precise and show up at the right time. Would it be the same with buses? What kinds of technology were you able to use to increase your ridership, or is it just that you run a good ship and more people like to take public transit?

9:50 a.m.

Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

François Chamberland

You're right that our ridership has been rising, with record figures over the last years. Unfortunately, it's not because of technology. STM has been very aggressive with publicity, in a big public campaign saying that it's very intelligent for someone to take the bus or take the métro, and that it's not only economical, but that you're doing it not only for you but also for the planet. We're very aggressive about this, and the message is getting through.

The other thing we did was add service. I think on the bus side we added 27% more kilometres within the last four or five years, so that you wait less time for buses. It's very linked to the increase of service.

Over the years we have had financial difficulties at STM. Our budget was cut year in, year out, so we had to cut in service. But now, over the last five years, the money is back, so we put on more and more service. Even in the métro we have had a huge increase of ridership because we've added some more service.

May 29th, 2012 / 9:50 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Do you know whether there's a body that would take all the emerging technologies, whether they're hybrid buses or things that are happening in different cities...?

Does CUTA, the Canadian Urban Transit Association, bring together all the best practices for emerging technologies, and then do they collectively identify the regulatory barriers?

For example, it was surprising to hear that you can only pilot something for one year. Why not for five years?

Is there a list of all the regulatory barriers that are preventing different transit authorities across Canada, especially big ones, from going ahead with using emerging technologies?

9:50 a.m.

Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

François Chamberland

There are two sides to your question. The first side is about best practices. For the last 15 years I have been a member of many international committees. The UITP, which is the international union of transporters, makes exchanges with all the major metros of the world and all the major bus transit societies around the world. We participate in NAPTA, which is a North American association of all the operators. And of course, with CUTA, in Canada, we exchange all the best practices.

We work very closely with BC Transit on our demonstration project on the recharging of buses with induction, which I showed you. So BC Transit will be with us on this, not at this stage, because it's too early, but on the next stage when we put more buses into service. We also hope to put some buses like this in Vancouver.

It's very difficult when you gather a lot of different people to speak about the rules and standards, because internationally you have the European standards and you have the North American ones. But in CUTA, certainly, they're looking at this. We are a member of it and we work with them on this issue.

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

I know there's a second part of the.... Calgary, for example, wants to pilot the natural gas bus. So if they're able to do so, then you would see whether it works or not. Do you share that kind of information with each other?

9:50 a.m.

Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

François Chamberland

Yes, through CUTA we do that. But you have to understand that natural gas buses have been around for more than 20 years. I don't see the point of having a demonstration of natural gas buses. You can buy them off the shelf today. Even New Flyer offered them. So it's not new technology.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Mr. Holder.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

Thank you. I'd like to thank our guests for being here today.

I'd just like to make the point that something not being new technology doesn't necessarily make it bad technology. I really appreciate the testimony that you've provided today, because if you've followed our hearings thus far, we've been getting more information about the use of propane, natural gas, and the like. So I find it very fascinating to have your testimony today.

Mr. Carignan, I'd like to understand this a little better. I do appreciate that STM is responsible for the Island of Montréal, the bus systems, and you seem to be responsible for everything.

9:55 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

It's for the nine transit authorities, including STM. We do joint procurements when we purchase buses. The buses that are used in Quebec City are the same as those used in Montreal, except for the colours of the seats and the exterior.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

How did that come about? I ask because you have, dare I say, a monopoly, a leadership role in guiding all of the various municipalities in la belle province. I'm just trying to understand better how that came to be, because that will help frame my next couple of questions, please.

9:55 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

It started actually when Montreal Transit was purchasing a high volume of vehicles. Trois-Rivières, which purchased 20 buses for three years, wanted to buy into the contract. So STM was buying buses for everyone, but at some point they said, well, this is a full-time job and a full-time team should take care of it. So we created what we called ATUQ. It's the nine transit authorities brought together. And we have an office now with permanent employees who purchase the buses for the nine transit authorities. You must understand that we have to compromise, that we have to discuss with the nine of them to make sure that the product we're purchasing is sufficient and that it meets the needs of all nine transit authorities.

Added to that, we've given ourselves a role of looking at what's being done throughout the world. And if something is done in Montreal, we want to share that information with the rest of them, and if something is done outside of Montreal, we want Montreal to share the data. So we provide that service and that commonality.