Adoption of the STO's 2016 Budget and Fare Schedule
Published : 10-29-2015
In adopting the budget and fare schedule that will take effect this coming January, this evening the Board of Directors of the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) showed its willingness to limit the financial contribution from its clientele in 2016.
A modest fare increase
“By limiting the average fare increase to 1% despite the current rise in our expenditures, the Board is making a good faith gesture to minimize the impact on the budgets of our riders, recognizing that they've already had to face some significant adjustments such as changing their commuting habits and adapting to the new Rapibus system,” explained STO Chairman Gilles Carpentier. “This is the smallest increase since 2002. The effort is part of a sound management policy that puts the customer at the centre of the STO's actions. This gesture supports the primary direction resulting from the organizational assessment completed during the year."
A budget of $141 million
The budget of $141 million for 2016 represents an increase of 5.5%, or $7.4 million. This budget growth can be attributed to current operations (increase of $2.9 million, including $1 million in service improvements), as well as debt service (increase of $4.5 million) related to the purchase of buses, implementation of the CAD/AVL system (computer-aided dispatch and automatic vehicle location), and construction of the second transit centre for which the STO received grants in the order of $4.3 million.
In preparing its budget, the STO took several parameters into account, in particular those related to the municipal share for which the increase is set at $3 million. To support public transit in its territory, the City of Gatineau is injecting $57.3 million, representing 41% of the STO's budget.
In 2016, the STO will earmark $1 million to improve services for the public. “Half of this amount comes from the efforts to streamline the organization's expenditures in 2015 related to the assessment,” explained Mr. Carpentier. “The Board respects and will pursue its commitment to make the STO more efficient and effective, and to reinvest the savings resulting from these efforts back into the services it offers in order to benefit riders,” he added.
Since the beginning of the year, the STO has seen a cumulative increase of 1.4% in its ridership. “Clearly, the investments and actions taken in the past few months to optimize public transit service are bearing fruit,” stated the STO's Chairman. “We are optimistic about this trend, but remain prudent in our budget planning with a growth forecast of 1% in 2016.”
Paratransit, on the other hand, has seen steady growth for several years. The STO is projecting an increase of 4% next year with 12,000 more trips added to the 290,000 trips anticipated by the end of 2015. The 2016 budget for paratransit is $7.5 million, for an increase of 5.7% compared with 2015.
Three-year capital projects plan
The STO's 2016-2017-2018 three-year capital projects plan was also approved at the Board meeting. For this period, the STO will acquire a total of 51 hybrid buses consisting of 15 articulated buses and 36 conventional buses. This $54.7 million investment will be supported by a provincial grant of $38.6 million. “Continuous renewal of our bus fleet contributes directly to an increase in the quality of service we offer the public,” pointed out STO Chairman Gilles Carpentier.
The STO's budget will be submitted to the City of Gatineau for approval this December.
The 2016 fare schedule and a summary of the budget can be viewed at sto.ca.
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