MONTREAL – There will be no coaches in Orléans serving Gaspeazzi and central Quebec starting February 7, until further notice.
Orleans owner Keolis Canada announced Wednesday that the pandemic is forcing him to drastically cut back its services until conditions improve.
“The financial situation of the company today is critical. If we wanted to ensure the sustainability of the Orléans Express and ensure the existence of the Orléans Express when we came out of the pandemic, we had to make decisions right away,” explained Keolis Canada CEO and CEO Pierre Paul Farand, in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Consequently, the service will be limited to two routes, including the Montreal-Quebec service via the south shore of Saint-Laurent, without any stops in the municipalities of the Center de Quebec. One daily contact will also be maintained with a stopover at Troyes-Riviere on the north shore.
The service would be maintained to the eastern part of the province, but only to Rimouski, leaving Gaspé without intercity transportation. However, stops at Levis, Montagny, Riviere-de-Loup and Trois Pistoles will be maintained. That Saint Jean Port Jolie has been commented.
This means that both Gaspésie and Center-du-Québec are now without intercity bus service.
Keolis assures us, however, that these are exceptional and temporary measures, but argues that it is no longer financially feasible to maintain the service under the current circumstances.
Pierre-Paul Farand explains that it is not the health obligations that limit the number of passengers on the buses, but the fact that traffic is starving.
“We are entitled to 50% of the capacity, so 24 passengers instead of 52, but the 24 are not there. There are a few people, but not enough to support the communications we have. The buses are not empty, but there are often two or three people.” Only people. “
Discussions with the minister
Mr. Farand spoke with the Minister of Transport, Francois Bonardelle, on Wednesday morning, to explain the situation to him. But he denied asking for financial aid.
There was no doubt telling the government: If you don’t give us the money, we close our doors. That was to tell him we understand the situation and here’s why we made these decisions.
“There were good exchanges. There were some good ideas. Where will the government go with that, I can’t say, ”he adds, acknowledging that if Quebec decides to intervene with temporary financial support, Kioles will not hesitate to go back on the road again.
“As much as we intend to restart our entire network as soon as possible, if the government says overnight that to provide basic services, we will help you, and we will resume service tomorrow morning. We understand very well the essential nature of the service. This decision is not taken lightly. It’s a matter of sustainability, it’s a matter of sustainability. A matter of survival. This is where we are. “
Basic service guarantee
Quebec Solidere spokeswoman for regional development matters, Amelis Lesard-Terrain, and her colleague in charge of the transport file, Ruba Ghazal, were quick to call on the CAQ government “to act to ensure the maintenance of services. Bus transport in the regions”.
The solidarity representatives seized the opportunity to reiterate the call for a summit on regional and inter-city public transport launched by regional transport companies and several immigrant resource centers, and to demand the Legault government “to stop acting as a disaster. Whenever the company stops operating. It provides a transportation service to citizens because its contacts are unprofitable.” .
PQ member for Ile de la Madeleine and spokesperson for the transport, Joel Arsenault, suggested that Minister Bonardelle had “thrown the towel” on the matter and asked if he “supports this decision. This topic.”
“(The Ministry of Transport) has supported regional air transport since the beginning of the epidemic, so why give up bus transportation, which is the only mode of intercity transportation that is still available and affordable for the majority of the region’s population?” Interrogated in an email sent to The Canadian Press.
For its part, the Confederation of Quebec Municipalities (FQM), which brings together municipalities and regional coordination mechanisms in the regions, is requesting Minister Bonardelle “emergency intervention to prevent these areas from being deprived of this essential service.” At the same time, the BNF criticizes the Orleans Express for “prioritizing large markets over the communities in our lands that were nonetheless loyal to it”.
FQM is particularly outraged by the fact that “many RCMs in these areas have long contributed to the maintenance of Orléans Express bus services, and thus to the financial results of this company” and are requesting the government “emergency intervention to ensure maintenance of a minimum of services throughout Country, “indicating that he did so for air transportation.
Keolis précise que les passagers qui ont déjà réservé un voyage au-delà du 7 février sur une des liaisons interrompues «pourront modifier leur billet, obtenir un crédit-voyage via leur compte-client ou obtenir un rembours de selement les politiques de lement ‘rembours a company”.
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