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Montreal public transit officials trying to lure back riders

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Montreal public transit to invest billions into city's transport services – Oct 27, 2020

Advocates of mass transit are pulling out all the stops to get riders back on the public transit band wagon.

Officials at the l’Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) say more than $9 billion will be spent in the next three years on mass transit projects hoping to lure back users.

“It’s an ambitious plan but also a pragmatic plan,” Daniel Bergeron, executive director for the ARTM, said during an online press conference.

But officials admit they have to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic first.

Ridership has dropped by 70 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The loss of revenues from fares and the additional expenses incurred to disinfect high-contact areas has put the ARTM in the red by $1 one billion between now and 2022.

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“The current ridership is about 30 per cent of what we usually have during this period, this time of year,” Bergeron said.

READ MORE: Montreal public transit still suffering effects of COVID-19 pandemic

But for now, public transit officials don’t anticipate ridership will return to normal levels until 2022.

Even then, there will likely be five to eight per cent fewer riders than pre-pandemic times, Bergeron said, largely because many people are expected to work from home.

“We’ve been working from home five days a week for nearly five months now, I think,” Bruno Simon, an IT solutions architect, told Global News from his home via Skype.

Bruno says he would consider riding the train again, if services improved during off-peak hours.

“If they had train in the middle of the day, just to go in for half a day for some meetings and then be productive from home the second half of the day,” he said.

It’s a plan ARTM officials say they’re working to improve.