Let’s get moving
In the strange world in which we live, nothing is funnier than the race of all governments to offer incentive over incentive to buy an electric car; funny but painful to pay for and all in the guise of being nice to the environment. Once again, the palm, the Oscar of subsidies, went to the Quebec government who, a couple of years ago, was offering $8,000 in tax credits - for electric cars that did not exist then, now or tomorrow.
Yet, everybody knows that public transportation is the most economical and ecological way of transporting people from point A to point B. From A to C it gets complicated, and from A to Z, downright impossible.
Here in our region, there is no public transportation from our own point A’s to our two natural B’s : Magog and Sherbrooke. In fact, in our MRC, only Magog and Mansonville have public transportation. In the latter case, public transportation goes to Z. The Mansonville line goes to Montreal, via Brome, Cowansville etc. So, if someone had an appointment at their hospital in Magog, they would have to board a bus to Montreal, transfer to one for Magog, and back again, with a sleepover either in Montreal or Magog! Cheaper and faster in a taxi.
There is a huge cost associated with the lack of a public transportation policy in the MRC. It will subsidize a tourist bus to Orford. Once it even had the gall to do the same so that Sherbrooke workers could go to their jobs in Magog. It offers small tokens that are no replacement for a complete transit system. There is the kludge of a system offered by Transports des Alentours: please reserve 48 hours in advance, good only on Tuesday and Friday in Stanstead, Monday only in North Hatley. Best served are Austin and Bolton West, five days a week; nothing to do with the fact that the former prefect of the MRC was mayor of Austin, naturally…
So, if you are poor, you get poorer by buying yourself a clunker or you hope that your neighbour will offer you a ride. And if you get a job in Magog, get out of Stanstead or Ayer’s Cliff or North Hatley as fast as you can. So we are left with poor people that are getting poorer while those that can get a job go live elsewhere. Needless to say, this is a not a positive when trying to attract new business.
If you are a student, this is the perfect ticket out of Stanstead forever. After high school, you move to Sherbrooke or elsewhere and never look back. So rather than retaining the youths that have an education, paid for by your taxes, we are subsidizing towns that don’t need our tax dollars. Gone also is the pool of part-time workers, who are key to today’s businesses, to the benefit of Sherbrooke, Montreal, etc.
Now, we do not need a metro line here. With a lot more money rather than the pittance that the MRC gives Transports des Alentours, using unused school buses during the day, utilising our taxis to the fullest, we could have a functioning transit system in a couple of months. Everybody would gain and we could stop losing workers and students.