Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I thank the members of the Standing Committee on Finance very much for their invitation.
Transport 2000 Québec is a non-profit association whose mission is to contribute to the overall development of public transit in Quebec and improve user services, while ensuring that the users' viewpoint is taken into account. Our vision is to ensure that citizens have access to affordable, high-quality and safe public transit services. With our partners from the various regional chapters, we are members of a Canada-wide network, Transport Action Canada.
Transport 2000 was astounded when it was announced in the last federal budget that the personal public transit tax credit would be abolished. Over the next five years, close to $1 billion will be removed from the pockets of citizens who use public transit.
The 15% tax credit meant that citizens could recover the equivalent of close to two months' monthly fees for using public transit. This compensation for choosing sustainable transport just went up in smoke, and no new incentive has been proposed to replace it.
Among available studies, a study pointing to the weak impact of the tax credit on increasing the use of public transit was mentioned. The study, done by Professor Rivers of the University of Ottawa, showed an increase in ridership of between 0.25 and 1 per cent, which represents a major increase on a Canada-wide scale. So the credit did have an effect on the use of public transit networks. We are talking about 35,000 to 154,000 additional daily users.
Aside from those figures, the tax credit was claimed by 1.7 million Canadians in 2012, which represents $170 million that was returned to the pockets of taxpayers who used public transit. In order to obtain that credit, those same taxpayers in one year spent $1.38 billion in transit fees. Thus, except in Toronto, every Canadian who spends about $1,000 a year in transit fees will be deprived of approximately $150. That is the equivalent of a 15% fee increase.
Econometric studies have shown that any increase in public transit fees leads to a decrease in ridership. Many users decide to change transport modes, that is to say to walk or use the car. Given these facts, we estimate that on a yearly basis, this could mean some tens of millions fewer public transit trips throughout the country.
According to the Toronto Transit Commission, the TTC,
“The [Public Transit Tax Credit] has undoubtedly had a positive impact on TTC Metropass sales and ridership growth”, and the TTC feels that eliminating it “will erode at least some of these gains.”
If everyone starts to use the car, there will be millions more tons of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere every year.
Ms. Plouganou, you have the floor.