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Interurban transport: seven times fewer private coach departures since 1981

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Orléans Express Keolis coaches at the Palais station in Quebec.

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Interurban transport is going through a crisis unprecedented in 40 years. This is the conclusion of a study by the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS) unveiled on Monday.

The number of weekly private coach departures has increased from 6,000 to 882 per week since 1981, a drop of 85%.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the decline in departures since 1981 was 700%.

The study also reveals that, in the last six years, the number of departures has decreased by a third (33%).

The lack of public funds for interurban transport is singled out. As long as intercity coach transport relies on a private industry self-financed by ticket sales, services deemed unprofitable will be cut, indicates Colin Pratte, researcher at IRIS and author of the study.

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Colin Pratte, from the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS). (Archive photo)

Interurban transport receives less than 1% of the envelope dedicated to public transport, according to IRIS.

The government has known since 1996 that interurban public transportation will decline further in the absence of consistent public policies. However, he has always refused to provide recurring funding for this type of transport, deplores Colin Pratte.

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Last April, Autobus Breton provided its last passenger transport between Beauce and Quebec.

For the researcher, the province stands apart in public funding intercity transportation.

Even in the United States, […] in states like Oregon, Washington, California, when a route is threatened with being canceled due to lack of ridership, there are recurring public envelopes, says -he. That, in Quebec, we saw that too rarely.

He cites as an example the service between Saint-Georges, in Beauce, and Quebec, which was abandoned last April by the Autobus Breton company. [The line] had managed to be maintained in the last year thanks to a program which proved to be temporary, public funds were not recurring.

Abandoned in 2014 by the Orléans Express company, the Trois-Rivières–La Tuque line is now managed by the Corporation de Transport Adapté et Collectif du Haut St-Maurice, a non-profit organization.

It's too rare an example, argues Colin Pratte.

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