As our readers are aware, Metro has been making many changes over the past two years under the leadership of our current President & CEO, Bob Baer. This blog has been one such change.
Now here comes a big change: Under Mr. Baer’s leadership and that of our new Chief of Planning and System Development, Jessica Mefford-Miller, and in cooperation with the region’s planning body, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Metro is now working on the development of a long-range transit plan for the St. Louis metro region. The plan will consist of three parts:
When completed, each stage of the plan will be prioritized and will detail funding levels not only to build but to operate and maintain any enhancements and expansions to the current transit system. This planning process will be unlike anything that Metro has done before. Over the past two months our market research team has been identifying an initial baseline “pulse” of what the region thinks about transit, the current transit system, and hopes for transit in the future. Now we’re moving into the community engagement phase of the plan development, and the crucial factor in this process is you. Read more about the planning process below the jump.Beginning October 13, Metro will conduct a series of public meetings on the future of transit in St. Louis. These meetings will be held in various locations throughout the region to encourage maximum public attendance and ensure regional representation. These meetings won’t be large-group public hearings, such as the FTA-required hearings Metro conducted last fall to get public input on the then-looming service cuts. Instead, the meetings will begin with a brief introduction to the planning process and some transit technologies and amenities. Then the meeting will break into small groups for roundtable discussions. We intend to provide each group with maps and information, and a Metro planner will facilitate a discussion of the participants’ transit priorities.
The purpose of these meetings is twofold: First, we want people to know what sorts of transit services are possible in the region, and what the impact of those services would be. Beyond traditional bus service and light rail, there are all sorts of improvements or modifications that can be made to better serve the region. Second, and more importantly, we want to hear what people want from their transit system. Riders and non-riders alike are invited and encouraged to attend and let us know what exactly you want from Metro.
These initial meetings are just the first step in the planning process, which we anticipate to include three different rounds of public meetings. We will also introduce a web component, for those technically inclined and those who may not make it to a public meeting. (The site isn’t live yet; but if you subscribe to NextStop’s RSS feed, you’ll get the notice as soon as we publish it here.) We will be providing much more detail here on the blog as the plan progresses, including a full schedule of the public forums as soon as the schedule is finalized.
I would just like to emphasize that this planning process is designed to solicit maximum community engagement. At the end of the process, Metro intends to adopt and publish a thirty-year plan for transit services. This plan will have a large impact on the region, and will help shape economic development, job distribution, possibly even living patterns, for years to come. So if you are interested at all in the transportation planning process; if you have opinions about what Metro should and could be doing, please plan on participating in these forums. Subscribe to the blog and, when it goes live, visit and utilize the long-range plan website to stay on top of developments in the plan, to get all of the background information you’ll need to make informed decisions, and to provide Metro with your feedback and ideas so that the final plan best represents the will of the region.
This morning Metro, led by Jessica Mefford-Miller, will be conducting an executive briefing with various elected officials, business leaders, and other dignitaries, of Metro’s long-range plan process. Members of the media will be there to observe as well, and this event is the public introduction to Metro’s long-range planning process. The blog team will be at the executive briefing this morning to observe and report on the event. Check back for the results of our efforts later this week, and stay tuned for further developments and news of public events.