A New Vision for Transit in St. LouisReturn to Blog
This commentary was published in the October 5 edition of the St. Louis Business Journal.
For any business to survive — and to succeed — it must be able to evolve. Metro Transit has already started its evolution.
Cities across the country have been experiencing a decline in public transit ridership. While there are several variables that can impact ridership, at the core of this nationwide trend is a simple truth: The way people want to travel has fundamentally changed.
Several years ago, Metro Transit recognized this shift in the market. We did our research. We talked with our riders to find out what they needed from their public transit system. Then, about 18 months ago, we launched Metro Reimagined, a long-range strategy to completely transform transit service in the St. Louis region.
That strategy will begin to come to life next year when transit riders will start to see significant changes to the MetroBus system, including more frequent service, faster trips, new technology, new vehicles and innovative new services, including on-demand transportation and microtransit options. This new plan will not only serve our customers better today, but will also allow the transit system to grow and adapt to the region’s changing mobility needs.
This shift in how people want to travel goes beyond public transit. From advances in autonomous technology and the growth of bike-share and car-share services, to investment in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, the future of individual mobility will be a flexible and equitable network of multiple transportation options. Some cities are already making those investments, and those that have undertaken similar transformations with their transit systems are seeing new riders and ridership growth.
It’s important that we have a transit system that is ready for this future. For the St. Louis region, Metro Transit is not only a transportation provider, it’s also a catalyst for economic growth. Since 2011, more than $7.9 billion in commercial development has been completed, is currently under construction or is reasonably committed within a half-mile of MetroLink stations in Missouri and Illinois. When businesses such as IKEA or Amazon are looking for areas to expand or relocate, a vital consideration is the availability and access of a strong public transportation system. That’s also important for college graduates, young workers and young families, who are looking to live and work in locations that are making investments that make public transit and car-optional transportation a priority.
The good news is we are already moving in the right direction. We look forward to introducing a new vision for public transit that better connects our neighborhoods, better serves our riders, and helps the St. Louis region continue to be an attractive destination for business and development.
Jessica Mefford-Miller is Executive Director of Metro Transit.
27 thoughts on “A New Vision for Transit in St. Louis”
What metro transit needs is SAFETY. #1 PRIORITY.
Until this is fixed, nothing else matters.
CJ, creating a safe and secure system is Metro’s highest priority. The critical components of transit system safety include a coordinated police and security team; communication and cooperation between each entity; and infrastructure that is designed to encourage crime prevention. The City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County all have police officers assigned to provide law enforcement and public safety via a MetroLink detail; Metro employs transit authority officers; and Metro employs contract security to provide front-line security and fare enforcement. This presence across the system is critical for creating a secure transit system. In July, Metro launched a text service that allows customers to text directly to Metro Public Safety dispatch in real time; this text number is 314-300-0188. You may also reach out to Metro Customer Service at 314-982-1406, [email protected], or via text at 314-207-9786.
CJ, most of us are adults here and we need to act like adults. Just because the troublemakers like to take the seats on MetroLink trains and talk stupid does not mean we need to stoop to their level. I used to volunteer on the landing where Metro’s offices at least used to be and may still have a few offices down there. Each time a complaint gets filed over the phone or email, the customer service staff fills out a form and nowdays files it into a database system. I have seen police officers ride the trains and they keep an ear open to suspicious activity on the trains and/or stations. Now one thing I find to be pretty stupid is that now there is a proposal to discontinue service onto the airport grounds. And that is forcing people to take the train to the North Hanley station.
Hi. First I am glad that the #56 will be going back to running on Sundays and that’s good for church goers. I always trust God since it was He that created us. But i hear that the line will only go the original route from Shrewsbury to Berry Road and turn south and head to Big Bend. On Facebook there are some people that act like 5-year-olds on Metro’s Facebook page and I end up having to block those type of people. I suggested on having the #73 to be extended to Dierberg’s in Arnold so that it would connect with the Jeff Co Express van service. And I am not sure what the results are about that route and about having all day service to be provided in Eureka.
It’s a failure! People were so exciting for Metrolink. Now the people of St. Louis are afraid of all the crimes related to Metrolink. No one I know will ride it to games anymore! They call a Uber. To much crime, that can’t be controlled. You have tried. Not enough money to put a police officer in every car of the train. Close it down. It is not servicing our community the way we expected it too!
Mary, thank you for providing your thoughts regarding MetroLink and the perception of safety across the MetroLink system. The safety of our passengers and employees is our top priority. We are working with our partners to strengthen security and law enforcement across the Metro Transit system, including onboard trains and at MetroLink and MetroBus stations. St. Clair County Sheriff’s Deputies have plans to begin patrolling MetroLink into Missouri. Nearly 38 million passengers depend on Metro Transit services to get to work, school and to important destinations across the bi-state region. It is a service the community depends on and we’ll continue to provide riders access to information and tools that’ll help them feel safer. Metro launched a text service that allows customers to text directly to Metro Public Safety dispatch in real time; this text number is 314-300-0188.
You can’t just shut down a train system that is successful, high ridership, and is depended on. A lot of people take it to games so I think it’s just some people that feel like you. It’s all perception.
Shannon, you are right on. During the AM rush on the weekdays, most of the violent criminals are fast asleep. There is also Call-a-Ride. Sadly there are some people that will even turn to stupid stuff such as psychics. I don’t give psychics any of my money. My money goes straight to the bank. Call-a-Ride is a paratranist service that Metro operates and each time I use it, I very seldom see a troublemaker board the Call-a-Ride truck. The MetroLink has two routes. The Red Line was built in a way to recycle an abandoned freight rail line. Back when streetcars ran, Welston was a city known for the major corporations. And yes it is now the county seat of the gang activity in St. Louis. Now if I would have worked on routing the Red Line, I probably would have routed it differently. The Blue line is really a work line. It serves many corporations along the route. When I ride it, most of the time the troublemakers knows that they had better shut up.
Mary, the MetroLink splits at Forest Park. The Blue goes to more corporations. I have been volunteering for Metro for at least 26 years. Matthew has seen the great amount of work done on the system. What I hear from another rider is that there is now a law that is stupid as can be that robs security of their rights to do their jobs. You can’t wave a magic wand and poof the system is safe once again.
Install turnstiles and enforce everyone to pay for each ride. Shouldn’t even be on the landing without a paid ticket. This ensures a higher revenue capture that can be used for safety, which is obviously what the public is praying for as the biggest change to metro.
Kyle, the MetroLink light rail system, like nearly all light rail systems constructed in the United States in the past 25 years, is a proof-of-payment system that is intended to maximize access and speed of boarding. If turnstiles and associated fencing and barriers were to be installed across the 46-mile, 38-station MetroLink system, the same personnel presence would be required to ensure safety, security, and fare payment. The region, through the leadership of East-West Gateway Council of Governments, is conducting a MetroLink Security Assessment, scheduled to be completed this year. We anticipate that this assessment will include recommendations for operational and physical strategies to enhance transit system security. Stay tuned to that conversation.
I disagree with the assertion that the same security force would be needed to ensure safety and enforcement of payment, even if a turn-style system were involved. I rode the transit to and from work from 2011-2014 and I believe I was checked for a ticket less than 5% of the time. If a modern system of entrance were to be put in place properly, individuals who are seemingly on the train for ill purposes such as harassment, violence, or theft would not be able to enter the platform. The requirement is very simple: turn-styles as well as one guard there to ensure that turn-style violators are dealt with. All of this aside, I don’t think the crime is the major off-putting aspect to the metrolink. The worst part of the metro is the location of the stations. If one travels to cities around the world with the best subway or light-rail system, they will notice that the entrances to the trains are in frequented and open areas with ease of access to their destinations. The metrolink has hidden their entrances, often in secluded areas, which of course makes people inconvenienced as well as possessing the feeling of lack of safety. The metro-link stop for the galleria mall is across Brentwood ave., without a tunnel or pedestrian footbridge for ease of access. The loop platform sits behind the main strip in a rather secluded area, which generally feels rather unsafe.These are just two examples, but there are plenty of other poorly planned platform locations. It was poorly designed and now we are seeing the repercussions of such a mess.
Matthew, thank you providing your feedback regarding ways to improve public safety as well as the overall makeup of the MetroLink system. We never stop exploring ways with our funding partners to make the Metro Transit system safer. Turnstiles and other potential entry barriers have been reviewed since the MetroLink system was first designed in the 1980’s. We are currently reviewing new techniques and technologies to change how riders access the system. For example, a few months ago we launched a station access pilot program at the North Hanley, Forest Park-DeBaliviere and Fairview Heights Transit Stations. This pilot was successful and we hope to expand the pilot program to include the Delmar Loop and Central West End stations with the end goal of making these control elements permanent. In addition to these improvements, Metro Transit – through its public safety team as well as in collaboration with its security partners – have significantly increased its presence on Metro vehicles. As for the location of the MetroLink stations, you have to understand that the original alignment (most of the Red Line) was built on a retired freight corridor. This proved to be the most economically feasible option to provide the kind of rapid transit St. Louis was envisioning when MetroLink first began to take shape. Over the years, Metro Transit has worked with various industries to encourage development around or near its transit centers. In fact, since 2011, more than $8.3 billion in commercial development has been completed, is currently under construction or is reasonably committed to within a half-mile radius of MetroLink stations across Missouri and Illinois. Thank you again Matthew for providing your feedback with us.
This sounds like a broken record but I ask that you reconsider not eliminating bus service on Frost Av. in the area of North County area, which is already transit deprived. You mentioned in your previous post that alternative bus service would be available, which would require substantial walking distances, on either North Hanley or Florissant Rd. Walking back and forth to get to these alternative routes would be great for people who are healthy enough to walk long distances. I have observed passengers waiting for the #38 and #39 buses which run their routes on Frost Av , particularly the elderly, that sometimes appear to be physically challenged. There are also safety issues involved with these longer walks to and from these alternative bus routes after dark. Contrary to your previous post, I see the numbers in the passengers, particularly those using the #39 route, that would justify retaining, at least, that route. This area of North County, which is somewhat economically depressed, is highly transit dependent.
Mike, this is extremely helpful information to send over to our planning department for consideration. This is the second draft of the Metro Reimagined plan and there may be some wiggle room for adjustments. If you have more thoughts on bus service — specifically as it pertains to the North St. Louis County region — feel free to email Customer Service at [email protected]. You can also text them at 314-207-9786.
Think about the heavy traffic load on I64 Anything Metro plan to help on that? A safe, fast way from Chesterfield to downtown on a day to day basis.
Qi, thank you for your feedback regarding transportation services, specifically trips from west St. Louis County into downtown St. Louis. Currently, Metro Transit provides express bus service to accommodate riders who reside in areas significantly outside the urban core. Those express routes include the 58X Twin Oaks and the 57X Clayton Road. There are also MeroBus routes, such as the 258 Clayton-Chesterfield and the #91 Olive that serve as local routes in those west St. Louis County communities. While Metro Transit isn’t directly involved in highway infrastructure, we do work closely with the Missouri Department of Transportation to encourage multimodal street design where MetroBus operates. If there is a specific segment you’d like our planners to address, please reach out to Customer Service via email at [email protected] or via phone at (314)982-1406 or text (314) 207-9786.
I live on the Illinois side of Metro Link an have to ride to Missouri as well as lots of others in for an doctors appointments. I am afraid to ride after 11am because my disability make me appear vunerable to the thugs that ride free, so I have quit riding.If security isn’t stepped you may as well shut it down. I truly feel sorry for the tourist that come here and you are talking about closing your survey by the end of the year. I have witnessed people being attacked on both sides of the bridge. Do u think I am going to continue to ride, knowing that it is just a matter of time before before I become the next victim. I even have a free ride past, I gave it back because there never any help on the train when it happens. Get real fix the problem or you want have to because you will be closing it down. If I am remembering right fare to ride has went up at least three times in the last eight years get security up. Then for sure your riders will take that chance and come back.
Lonnie, we appreciate your feedback regarding the perception of public safety on MetroLink and we’re disappointed to see you go. Please know that Metro Transit considers the safety of its riders and its operators its top priority. Safety across Metro Transit property – including MetroLink and MetroBus services – requires a multi-faceted approach and the coordination of various policing entities. The City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County all have police officers assigned to provide law enforcement and public safety via a MetroLink detail; Metro employs transit authority officers; and Metro employs contract security to provide front-line security and fare enforcement. This presence across the system is critical for creating a secure transit system and we recognize that customers will only choose the Metro transit system if they feel safe. Thank you again Lonnie for your feedback.
Lonnie, have you heard of ATS and Call-a-Ride? I use Call-a-Ride. Also I see no news article about Metro shutting down MetroLink by the end of the year. Maybe a couple of stations for maintenance work. Let me tell you one thing. I don’t believe in psychics. They are a bunch of liars, they cheat, and they take your money. Your money belongs in the bank. If those psychics told you that MetroLink will shut down by the end of the year and there will be no more MetroLink, you tell those psychics to shut up. When I ride MetroLink, most of the time, I have had no trouble with it. I even sometimes see St. Louis County Police step on the train ready to pull off anyone who chooses to misbehave.
It’s past due for a swap card system. Also ridership rates should be based on time and distance travel. I witness abuse of the monthly card on crowd buses and somehow people get hold of transfer pads. Now a scanable chip card will permit customers to load credits at home or at a station.
Dealing with security is very important; but it’s time to enforce all Metro rules. One shouldn’t see a 3 Card Monte Game, hear cursing or loud cell phone conversation, people that fail to stay with their bike, failure to give up the front seat to a disable person and food and drinks consumed.
Kevin, thank you for providing your feedback. We encourage riders to communicate what they see during their transit trips on board MetroLink and MetroBus. You can do this by reaching out to Metro Public Safety via phone at 314-289-6973 or via text at 314-300-0188. As far as transit fare, Metro is slowly rolling out its smart card fare payment system, Gateway Card. This will include the elimination of paper transfers, which are currently issued by MetroBus operators. Instead, transfers will be available on electronic (smart card) media and soon via mobile payment (smart phone devices).
I was hoping to hear about the #73 on if they are going to take my idea and expand bus service on that route either into Arnold or to Meremac Bottom Road and Lemay Ferry Road. I am waiting on the next set of meetings. I know that safety rocks here on Metro. But I have seen some posts from people that are acting like 5-year-olds. Most of us are adults here and we need to act like it. Just because troublemakers step onto the train and make things miserable for us doesn’t mean we have to stoop to their level. And yes, I may be a little rude on Facebook by blocking some people that wants to “troll” on the Facebook page. But Matt, suppose you can mention on when the next meetings will be on the Metro Reimagined and if the #73 will extend to Meremac Bottom Road and Lemay Ferry or not.
Patrick, according to the proposed plan, Metro planners do not intended to extend the #73 Carondelet route to Lemay Ferry Road. As for next meetings, we should be sharing that information sometime next week. Stay tuned.
When is the new draft coming out
Sometime this week, stay tuned.