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April 7, 2010 | 9 Comments

What’s Next For Metro Transit

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On Tuesday, April 6 St. Louis County voters passed Proposition A, a half-cent sales increase to fund the restoration and expansion of public transit in the region. The dedicated funding from this sales tax will provide a likely $75-80 million a year for public transit. In addition, a 1/4-cent sales tax passed by St. Louis City in 1997 will go into effect, bringing in an estimated $8 million.

So what’s next? Currently, the planning department is putting together a schedule for service restoration. As soon as a schedule and details are available, we’ll post a full review of what to expect in the next four months. Some service will have increased frequency; some corridors will have a whole new route. Right now, new operators and mechanics must be hired and trained to run the buses, vans and trains. Starting tomorrow, the green bags on bus stop signs announcing that service has been “Temporarily Restored” will be removed.

Next week our Customer Focus Committee meets, and we’ve got a lot to talk about. We’ve received a lot of comments online about bus signage and route information (how to provide more of it), and I plan to bring your comments and suggestions. Thanks to everyone for giving us feedback.

Our work is just beginning.

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Categories:
Capital Projects, Metro Lifestyle

9 thoughts on “What’s Next For Metro Transit”

  1. Jeff says:

    One way to improve information would be to add a service similar to what many other communities have added allowing online tracking of busses and estimation of when they will next be coming. One such service would be nextbus.com which is a great tool that many areas are using. I’m sure you all could build out something too.

  2. Daron says:

    fantastic. Good work. :o)

  3. Dan says:

    Will all bus routes be restored, or are some under evaluation?

    1. Courtney says:

      Some bus routes will be restored, but some will become new service based on evaluating previous service. For example, some longer routes may be split into two. Once the planning department starts unveiling the restoration plans, we’ll highlight all of the service changes.

  4. Matt C says:

    Hi Courtney – question for you. One of the streets that is continually touted for BRT is Grand. While I know that it’s one of, if not the busiest, lines, I can’t see how BRT will work on that street, it’s just too narrow, only 2 lanes of traffic is some areas. When ‘BRT’ was used in the Moving Transit Forward plan was that more a place holder for enhanced bus service, i.e. express buses, shorter headways, or articulated buses? Because I don’t see BRT like the Healthline in Cleveland or even the Max in KC being a possibility on Grand. I could see it working on Kingshighway though.

    1. Courtney says:

      Hey Matt – I got your answer from our Long-Range Planner Mark:
      Thank you for bringing up the question of potential BRT service along Grand Boulevard. We’re all excited about the possibility of improving transit service along one of the region’s busiest corridors, and we have ideas, but we won’t be certain exactly what form it will take until we’ve completed preliminary design & engineering work. However, we can tell you that our current “big-picture” plan would only operate along the stretch of Grand that consists of four lanes, between Natural Bridge and Chippewa. We don’t think BRT service would be viable where Grand narrows to two lanes. Within the identified project area (in the event that this BRT option is selected to move forward by regional leaders), we will face barriers along the stretch between Utah and Arsenal, where the street has been realigned to restrict vehicle travel to two lanes. Throughout the long-range planning process we’ve been working closely with both East-West Gateway and the Great Streets advisory groups, and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to find a workable solution for providing quality service to those vibrant City blocks.
      The important thing to remember about BRT, both in the long-range plan and across the world, is that it is NOT a one-size-fits-all standard, but rather a range of technologies and service strategies that work together to make bus transit more comparable to light rail travel. The possible range of service strategies is very wide. Most BRT systems operate along major urban arterials like Grand and Kingshighway, but some systems (like Phoenix, AZ) also have had success running dual-commute, city-suburb routes along major highways. BRT service in St. Louis will be a combination of highway-based lines that better connect the region’s core to outlying suburban communities, and some urban routes that bolster transit service along the core’s busiest corridors. Possible street infrastructure varies greatly, from bus-only roads to exclusive bus lanes to running in mixed traffic with signal prioritization. In every case, BRT systems seek to maximize travel speed and minimize travel time by making limited stops at major intersections/destinations, and utilizing efficient technologies such as low-floor boarding, automated fare payment (smart cards), GPS tracking and signal prioritization. Obviously bus-only roads or dedicated lanes would ensure the fastest service, but lack of adequate street capacity, comparatively higher costs, and community feedback can make them difficult to implement. National (and international) experience has shown that BRT in mixed traffic can also be effective (and less expensive) if it is wisely matched with Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), particularly signal prioritization.
      At this point, Moving Transit Forward identifies the general corridors that will most facilitate movement around the region, as well as the type of transit that would serve those corridors most effectively. They are all excellent options for improving the Metro Transit System, but at this stage they’re still conceptual. The actual configuration of service strategies and technologies for all of the BRT options identified in the plan will be determined during the design & engineering phases.

  5. PeterXCV says:

    With honesty Grand is two lanes each way north of Arsenal

  6. NN says:

    Can you please create a new discussion thread for suggestions or comments that people have?

  7. RTBones says:

    I still wonder what would be so terribly wrong with replacing the Grand Streetcar line, among others. St. Louis was a streetcar city at one point in its past.

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