Hey, remember back in June when I told you about that AMT contract to run two new express bus routes with crazy perks like air conditioning? And then two months later everyone hears about it for the first time (thanks to a press release) and is immediately outraged, saying this is “two-tier transit” and it’s illegal demanding it be scrapped?
Well you’ll be pleased to know that the Quebec government has done exactly that, bending to municipal pressure (and unions) and putting the kibosh on the project, mere days before it was to go into service.
Actually, it’s not really suspending it. Instead, the minister has taken the contract from Limocar and given control of the Vaudreuil line to CIT La Presqu’ile, which serves local transit needs of the western shore.
Of course, that’s what should have been done in the first place. The regional transit authorities around Montreal all have express buses going onto the island, including the RTL, STL, CITSO and companies that run transit in towns you didn’t realize had transit systems. Even CITPI has routes that connect with the STM network at John Abbott College in Sainte Anne de Bellevue. Why spend gobs of money on a private contract when you can just let the local transit authority handle it?
And even if we concede that the AMT needed to hire a company to run this route, why the requirements for air conditioning, Wi-Fi access and the rest that instantly disqualified the transit companies from the process? The government has been clear in the past that air conditioning is a luxury and they won’t pay for buses to have them. So why did AMT get special treatment?
Mentioning the delay between my reporting in June and the decision this past week isn’t just to make me look good. There are consequences to going back on decisions like this. Limocar went through a fair bidding process in good faith, and now they’ve been screwed over. It’s unclear whether they’ve spent any serious money setting this route up, but even if we just count the manpower they spent on the bidding process, that’s a lot of resources for something that has turned out to be irrelevant.
In other words, expect a lawsuit to develop out of this, or expect Limocar to get some serious cash in severance costs.
And, of course, all that is money out of our pockets.
All because people complained about a contract after it was awarded instead of when the ridiculous requirements were announced.