Unfounded assumptions and projections

Montréal, December 12, 2016 – In a series of articles published today in La Presse, columnist Francis Vailles juxtaposes unfounded data and assumptions to claim that the REM (Réseau électrique métropolitain) project will result in additional expenses for municipalities over and above the proportional rise in contributions attributable to increased ridership. These calculations mislead the public about an important project that residents hope to see completed as quickly as possible.

Mr. Vailles makes a number of substantive mistakes.

First, he omits the significant savings that the REM will afford existing public transit networks, which leads him to artificially inflate the project’s costs. The REM promises to transform public transit options in the metropolitan area: a new service will be added, and certain existing services will be replaced or significantly modified. These necessary adjustments will not only allow for the logical and efficient integration of the different systems, but will largely offset the REM’s annual costs. The figures put forward by Mr. Vailles rely on incorrect assumptions that portray a situation with no basis in reality.  

Second, Mr. Vailles’ conclusions are all the more inappropriate as they compare the current situation – in which 15 networks and more than 700 different fares co-exist in the metropolitan region – to a new one under the future ARTM, where an integrated network will have unified pricing parameters. In this context, taking 2016 figures and projecting them into 2026, without accounting for the significant upcoming changes, is both simplistic and misleading. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

In addition, by comparing the increased ridership generated by the REM with a comparable increase within the existing network, without adding new investments and new costs, Mr. Vailles is indulging in a purely hypothetical exercise. Since existing public transit networks are saturated – take the Deux-Montagnes AMT line, or the bus service on the Champlain Bridge, for example – it is simply impossible to increase the use of public transit without new, more efficient infrastructure. Even if it were possible to increase the existing system’s capacity – which is not the case – the REM project will carry these additional passengers at a significantly lower costs than that of existing systems. Furthermore, the REM will alleviate the costs associated with road congestion and the pressure on the saturated networks of the STM and other transit authorities.

For months, CDPQ Infra experts have been working tirelessly toward achieving a clear objective, unchanged since the project was announced: to propose a highly competitive rate per passenger-km, which covers both the REM’s operating and capital costs for a contribution per passenger-km comparable to the existing networks’ operating costs. Discussions on this matter are underway with the ARTM’s transition committee. They will be continuing for several months, particularly once the agency is formally established in June 2017. Our analyses show that our business model makes this objective achievable and very realistic.

Until discussions are concluded with the ARTM and the definitive figures are published, calculations based on estimates and partial assumptions are purely speculative.

CDPQ Infra proposes a new, efficient, cost-effective public transit network for the Greater Montréal area. The REM will offer high-quality, high-frequency service that promises to transform mobility in the metropolitan region and improve the overall performance of public transit, at a cost per passenger-km comparable to that of existing networks. For revenues per passenger-km equivalent to those of existing networks, the REM will cover both its operating expenses and capital costs, thereby demonstrating the high efficiency of its business model. Claiming the opposite amounts to misleading the public.

About the REM                  

The Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) is a new, integrated 67-km public transit network intended to link downtown Montréal, the South Shore, the West Island (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue), the North Shore (Laval and Deux-Montagnes) and the airport through the operation of an entirely automated and electric light rail transit (LRT) system. For more information.

About CDPQ Infra

CDPQ Infra aims to effectively and efficiently carry out major public infrastructure projects. Established in 2015, CDPQ Infra invests for the long term in tangible assets that generate stable, predictable returns for depositors of Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec. It is a subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec (cdpq.com), one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers. For more information on CDPQ Infra, visit cdpqinfra.com, follow us on Twitter @CDPQInfra or consult our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

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For more information:
Jean-Vincent Lacroix
Director, Media Relations
+1 514 847 2896
[email protected]