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Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay says transit fares need to rise in order to improve the quality of bus and metro service. ((CBC))

Montreal transit users will have to pay more to ride the metro or bus starting in the new year, says Mayor Gérald Tremblay.

Transit officials confirmed Tuesday that the cost of a monthly pass will rise to $72.75 as of January, representing a $2.75 increase.

A single ticket which currently costs $2.75 will cost $3.

Tremblay said the extra revenue will go towards improving the quality of the metro and bus service across the island.

"If we want to encourage people to use public transit more and more, we have to make certain adjustments. As a result, there will be an increase," said Tremblay in an interview.

'We strongly believe that if we can convince more and more people to use public transit, that it will reduce gridlock and improve productivity.'— Gérald Tremblay, Montreal mayor 

Tremblay said the city requires additional revenue to improve the quality of the transit system in order to attract new riders and keep existing ones.

He said the city needs to get more commuters into buses, metros and commuter trains in order to stop the gridlock on the roads that costs the city an estimated $1.2 billion annually in lost productivity.

"It means that if someone wants to wait an hour and a half to come into Montreal or an hour to leave Montreal, that's a major problem," said Tremblay.

"We strongly believe that if we can convince more and more people to use public transit, that it will reduce gridlock and improve productivity."

Montreal Transit Corporation vice-chair Marvin Rotrand said the 2011 transit budget includes $18 million of new improvements.

He said additional buses will be added to routes, especially on the West Island. Transit officials will also make a greater effort to synchronize bus service with commuter trains, he said.

The changes must still be approved by the city of Montreal and the agglomeration council.

Pass price worries transit group

Transport 2000, a public transit watchdog group, worries a significant hike in fares could be counterproductive.

"It could exclude more people from taking public transit," said executive director Normand Parisien. "A lot of people in Montreal cannot afford to buy a transit pass."

Parisien said the city should look to new funding sources, such as highway tolls, to increase revenues.

Tremblay said the city has also asked the Quebec government for dedicated sources of funding for public transit.

He said other measures for additional revenue, including a new car registration tax, will be presented in the city budget on Wednesday.