Metro Transit is getting into the spirit of March Madness with the return of the “Metro Madness Bracket Challenge.” This year, we are pitting some of the region’s busiest bus routes against each other. Will the powerhouse #70 Grand have its shining moment, or will a route like the #59 Oakland have a Cinderella story?
Follow us on Twitter to vote on which routes advance and help us crown a champion! Even if you aren’t a regular MetroBus rider, we encourage you to be a part of this fun tournament. You can read below to learn a little more about these transit routes and the important connections they make in our community.
We’ll update the bracket at the conclusion of each round of voting. Check back for our winner later this month.
MetroBus operates 59 routes in Missouri and Illinois, providing more than 11 million rides per year. For the sake of this competition, we selected 16 routes based on ridership, geographic service area, and community connections.
By far the MetroBus route with the strongest fan base, the #70 Grand serves about 80,000 riders each month. It is the only route in either state to use articulated buses to accommodate more passengers. With access to four large public parks and the Grand Center Arts District, St. Louis University, two major hospitals, and the Grand MetroLink Station, the #70 Grand can take you almost anywhere!
Not a huge route in terms of ridership, but the #8 Shaw-Cherokee can get you to some really unique places along the way. There’s shopping and dining along Cherokee Street or you can stop in at STL Style for some great St. Louis-themed threads. The route continues into the Shaw neighborhood and past the front entrance to the Missouri Botanical Garden before reaching the Central West End Transit Center.
One of our busiest East-West routes, the #4 Natural Bridge is all about connections. Starting out from either two of our busiest Transit Centers—Civic Center and North Hanley—the #4 Natural Bridge also stops at the UMSL South Transit Center, offering three access points to MetroLink. Along the way, this route can connect you with nearly two dozen other MetroBus routes, and it offers easy access to the new NGA West Campus on Jefferson Ave.
The #90 Hampton might best be described for the sake of this tournament as the equivalent of a mid-major. Although it serves fewer riders than other North-South routes like the #70 Grand or #95 Kingshighway, the #90 Hampton has big upside. From the south you can reach shops and dining in the Southampton neighborhood, continuing through Forest Park to MetroLink access, and further north to the Riverview Transit Center.
Serving the northern edge of the city of St. Louis, the #74 Florissant cuts through the Old North, Hyde Park, and O’Fallon neighborhoods to name a few. Further north you can reach the Buzz Westfall Shopping Center in Jennings on your way to the North County Transit Center. Other notable stops include O’Fallon Park and Bellefontaine Cemetery.
Judging just by ridership numbers, the #31 Chouteau might be considered an underdog in this tournament. But this routes has some popular stops that might give it an edge. Heading out from the Civic Center Transit Center you can reach historic Lafayette Square or stop to drink and dine in The Grove and downtown Maplewood. Looking ahead, the #31 Chouteau will run right past the future home of Top Golf in Midtown.
Our second-largest route in terms of ridership, the #11 Chippewa is a workhorse serving residential neighborhoods in south St. Louis. With access to the Shrewsbury and Civic Center Transit Centers, it also offers connections to major North-South MetroBus routes like the #70 Grand and #95 Kingshighway. And it might have the tastiest stop of all our competitors—Ted Drewes Frozen Custard!
One of two MetroBus routes representing Illinois in our tournament, the #12 O’Fallon-Fairview Heights big upside is access to retail. The route travels to St. Clair Square mall and the shops at Green Mount Crossing on its path between the Fairview Heights and Shiloh Scott Transit Centers.
Our top seed coming out of Illinois is the #1 Main Street-State Street, serving nearly 50,000 riders a month. Heading east from the 5th & Missouri Transit Center, this route takes you through East St. Louis and into the heart of downtown Belleville.
As the name suggests, the #16 City Limits roughly follows the western edge of St. Louis from the Shrewsbury Transit Center all the way north to the Riverview Transit Center. Along the way it offers stops on Skinker offering easy access to Forest Park, Washington University, and the Delmar Loop.
One of our more interesting routes covers the city’s central corridor along Lindell before turning south along Gravois. The Central West End, Grand Center, Midtown, Soulard and Tower Grove South are just a few of the neighborhoods served by the #10 Gravois-Lindell. It also makes at stop at the iconic Bevo Mill, and flanks the northern edge of CITYPARK, the new home of St. Louis City SC.
Another route riding into this tournament as an underdog is the #56 Kirkwood-Webster. The route takes you right through the heart of historic downtown Webster Groves, where shopping and dining options abound. A quick transfer to the #49 Lindbergh will carry you into past the Magic House and into downtown Kirkwood, or you can ride on to St. Louis Community College-Meramec.
In the mix with our “power conference” routes regularly serving more than 50,000 riders a month is the #95 Kingshighway. This route connects neighborhoods to the north and south with the Central West End Transit Center and the surrounding medical center complex. It also offers easy access to the western edge of Tower Grove Park, great for fun events like the Farmer’s Market or Food Truck Friday.
One of our longest routes, the #94 Page connects downtown St. Louis to Maryland Heights, with a connections to MetroLink at the Wellston Transit Center along the way. About 50,000 people a month rely on the #94 Page. One of the more notable stops is the Westport Plaza Business and Entertainment District in St. Louis County.
One of our southern-most routes serving South County Center and connecting all the way north to downtown St. Louis via the Civic Center Transit Center. Although it’s a largely residential route, the #73 has stops outside the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and near dining and drinking options in Soulard.
A small but mighty route, the #59 Oakland connects you to some of the top attractions in St. Louis. Starting out from the Central West End Transit Center and surrounding medical campus, the #59 Oakland is your ticket to Forest Park, including the St. Louis Science Center and the St. Louis Zoo. Other stops include the Hi-Pointe and Demun neighborhoods, SSM St. Mary’s Hospital, St. Louis Community College-Forest Park and St. Louis University High School.