In the beginning...

In existence for more than 60 years, Metro Transit is one of the nation's oldest interstate agencies.  However, it hasn't always been known as Metro Transit.

It was established as the Bi-State Development Agency (BSDA) in 1949 through an interstate compact between Missouri and Illinois, ratified by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Harry S. Truman.  (The BSDA adopted the name Metro in 2003.)  The BSDA was created to serve the region on both sides of the Mississippi - to have a regional outlook not tied to any one municipality, county or state.  As such, it was given broad powers that enable it to cross local, county and state boundaries to enhance the development of the region.  

Although the Agency is now best known for its transit system, it would be 14 years - in 1963 - before it operated a public transit vehicle.  In fact, during its first year of operation, the BSDA:

  • Commissioned a comprehensive plan for development of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District, outlining the major needs of the area and recommending solutions.
  • Sponsored a study of the pollution in the Mississippi River in the St. Louis area.  This led to a successful program where local industries voluntarily agreed to treat wastes in order to reduce pollution.
  • Completed a study of the sewer problems of St. Louis County, which led to the establishment of the Metropolitan Sewer District.
  • Sponsored an area-wide survey of highways and expressways in Missouri and Illinois - one of the first instances of coordinated interstate highway planning.

    Next: the 1960's