Work begins on Société de transport de Laval’s new all-electric garage

However, $246 million bill may rise to $308 million with inflated construction costs

STL general manager Guy Picard (seen with Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault) said the transit agency is facing steep construction cost increases because of economic problems that include inflation (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Federal, provincial and municipal officials were on hand last week at the Société de transport de Laval’s headquarters for the announcement of major new public transit funding, while at the same time turning the first shovels of gravel for the construction of the STL’s new 100 per cent electric garage.

Quebec Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault, who is also the Minister of Transport, announced $142 million in new funding to help the STL reach its goal of buying just electric-powered buses by the year 2025.

A growing electric fleet

And since the electric fleet will need supporting infrastructure, the STL is expanding its garage area by 50 per cent, while adding a 20-megawatt electrical input said to be several times the electrical power used at Laval’s Place Bell.

Quebec Transport Minister and Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault addresses guests and media last week at STL headquarters. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

When completed, the all-electric garage will have the capacity to accommodate 145 electric buses. In all, the STL will be spending $246 million on the project, a significant amount of which will come from other sources, including the federal government.

Inflationary challenges

In the meantime, the STL, like other public transit agencies in Quebec, is facing enormous increases in costs for development projects because of mounting challenges for the province’s economy, such as astronomical inflation and overall instability in global finances.

“We are facing, just as with any other infrastructure project, cost increases,” STL general manager Guy Picard told journalists during a question-and-answer session at the STL garage. He said the transit agency currently is dealing with 25 – 50 per cent increases in costs for the construction projects it undertakes, although he insisted the STL is managing to keep the situation under control.

Laval mayor Stéphane Boyer (left) said the STL’s growth is a sign of ongoing progress towards developing a more prosperous City of Laval. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Will open in 2025

According to Picard, the electric garage project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025, is on schedule in spite of the anticipated cost hikes. He told journalists that the $246 million originally set aside for the project may rise to $308 million. While Quebec and Ottawa are footing most of the bill, the STL is committed to shouldering 15 per cent (at least $18 million) of the eventual total cost.

In addition to the sums provided by Quebec, the federal government is also contributing to the project. “Mass transit plays an essential role in the attainment of our climate goals,” said Vimy Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis who was accompanied by fellow Laval-area MPs Fayçal El-Khoury and Angelo Iacono.

Important step: Koutrakis

The federal government allotted more than $85 million for the STL’s garage expansion, noted Vimy MP Annie Koutrakis. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

“That is why I am pleased to be here today for the start of work on the enlargement of the Société de transport de Laval’s garage, to which our government allotted more than $85 million in federal funds,” she added “This is an important step towards electrification of the city’s bus fleet, which will help reduce its carbon footprint while encouraging sustainable development.”

“What’s important to see in the beginning of work on this garage is a vision for the development of Laval,” said Mayor Stéphane Boyer. “Here, road transport contributes 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions on our territory. There is no doubt whatever that the future lies in the development of green, efficient and easily accessible mass transit. I congratulate the STL for all the efforts it is making, and of course I thank the Quebec government for its generous financial participation.”

From the left, Vimy Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis, Sainte-Rose CAQ MNA Christopher Skeete, Quebec Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault, Laval mayor Stéphane Boyer and STL general manager Guy Picard turn the first shovels of earth and gravel to mark the beginning of work on the transit agency’s future all-electric garage. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Improved mobility: Skeete

“This project will allow for the modernization of infrastructures in order to offer to Laval residents better mobility,” said Sainte-Rose CAQ MNA Christopher Skeete, who is Minister Responsible for the Laval Region in the Legault government.

“Electrification of transport is necessary to reach our ambitious goals to address the issue of climate change. I would like to point out the work done by the team at the STL, which is showing itself to be proactive and greener, while finding better solutions in mass transit.”