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Montreal opposition at city hall pushes for better transit options for seniors

Click to play video: 'How to better fund and serve public transit in Montreal'
How to better fund and serve public transit in Montreal
WATCH: The City of Montreal is seeking input on how public transit is funded ahead of drafting the city's 2025 budget. But the opposition and some community groups are calling for another kind of consultation. Global's Phil Carpenter explains. – May 6, 2024

The City of Montreal kicked off its pre-budget consultation for 2025 at city hall on Monday, to find out how the public thinks the city should spend on public transit.

Opposition politicians, however, are asking the city for another kind of consultation — one that involves seniors.

“They have to see and they have to hear from senior citizens what are their needs,” stresses Chantal Rossi, city councillor for Ovide-Clermont district and official opposition spokesperson for seniors.

They want the city to hold these dialogues in collaboration with the boroughs and the STM, and to also establish a seniors council to advise the administration. According to the opposition and advocates for seniors, public transportations services for the more than 350, 000 seniors across the island is poor.

“We’re talking about effective services, we’re talking about cost,”  Pierre Lynch, chair of the executive council of the Association québécoise de défense des droits des personnes retraitées et préretraitées.

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“So, at one point, if you do not consult the people that are using it you won’t be able to be cost effective.”

Click to play video: 'Montrealers 65 and older to ride free on public transit starting in July'
Montrealers 65 and older to ride free on public transit starting in July

Until the consultations are set up they want the STM to extend Taxibus services, currently provided in areas where it’s hard to have regular bus lines. Lynch argues that “it’s very important for at least the isolated portions of Montreal in the east and west particularly, to have a point-to-point service.”

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Right now the STM’s shared taxi bus is available to seniors only in the suburbs of Pointe-Claire and Dorval and Nun’s Island in the Verdun borough. Lynch notes, though it’s free for Montreal seniors over 65 to take the bus, the Taxibus has a number of advantages.

“Collective Taxibus are more effective,” he told Global News. “They’re less costly and it permits the people to go much faster.”

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The other service the opposition wants revived is the Golden Age Shuttles, a service similar to the adapted transit, which was suspended during the pandemic. Rossi estimates it’d take between $2-$3 million to resume it.

“Is there anybody who doesn’t think that the seniors doesn’t deserve, or doesn’t have the value of $3 million per year?” she asked rhetorically. “I think they do.”

In response, the city says anyone with concerns about services for seniors can take part in the pre-budget consultations, but the opposition party plans to table a motion at the next city council meeting May 13 to have a seniors’ consultation set up.

The city’s pre-budget consultations continue May 27th.

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