February 24, 2011

Citizens for Modern Transit Receive $598K CMAQ Grant to Encourage Transit Ridership in STL

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Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT) was awarded $598,750 in Missouri Federal Congestion Mitigation and Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funds for the implementation of their St. Louis Transit Action Program, a new 3-year program focusing on the theme, “Transit – All of us need it, come out and ride it – it’s as easy as 1,2,3!” CMT also received $450,000 from an Illinois CMAQ grant to increase ridership in St. Clair County.

CMT says the St. Louis Transit Action Program is a call to action for transit supporters and users in the St. Louis area, and will deliver educational programs, opportunities, information and incentives to get people to use public transit.  The program will focus on a system-wide approach (combining both MetroLink and MetroBus) to transit travel in efforts to increase transit ridership and reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs) on St. Louis roads.

“We are thrilled to be a recipient of a Missouri CMAQ grant for our St. Louis Transit Action education plan,” said Executive Director Kim Cella.  “Our goal is to build off the successes of our Spring 2010 education campaign, “Some of us ride it, all of us need it” to increase awareness on the benefits of public transit while at the same time breaking down perceived barriers to riding the system for work and play.”

The St. Louis Transit Action Program will focus on the following areas:

  • Smart Card technology
  • Health-based incentive programs
  • Guaranteed Ride Home program
  • Living near MetroLink/Walkable Communities
  • Employer transit benefits programs
  • Target marking, social media, interactive web development, and traditional marketing strategies

We are definitely excited to see this program develop, as it is a great opportunity for St. Louis public transit and its growth in the region.  Do NextStop readers have any words of encouragement or suggestion for CMT?

10 thoughts on “Citizens for Modern Transit Receive $598K CMAQ Grant to Encourage Transit Ridership in STL”

  1. RTBones says:

    One suggestion that got only brief mention in some of our recent discussions: find a way to get rid of transfers. If you are really going to promote the “system” then help your ridership to treat it like one. Charge us $2.50 for a ride (bus or train), and make the ticket good for two hours. Make a day pass $5.00.

    Work on/help to encourage communities that are walkable and transit friendly. Acres of parking near a highway is not walkable. For that matter, acres of parking nearly anywhere in many ways discourages walking (and economic development). Work to bring transit into communities, not have riders drive to an outlying lot.

    Focus on becoming more of a transit system with more frequency, and less of a “commuter only” system. I had this affect me today – I had a car issue to deal with. I dropped the car off for service this morning and checked Metro’s website for transit options to work. It would have taken me approximately 2.5 hours to get where I needed to. I would have happily taken transit to work from the garage, but I ended up getting a cab because of time.

  2. Daron says:

    I have a lot of opinions about smart cards and would love to share them.

    First, we should make the system open so that multiple card companies can operate on the same platform. Instead of transit users being captive consumers, the card suppliers are forced to offer deals. In Seoul U-Pass and T-Money innovate constantly. In Hong Kong and Singapore where the Octopus and EZ-Link cards have complete control, the innovations are less apparent.

    Second, the platform should work for all modes of transportation: buses, trains, street cars, boats, trams, whatever. The more options get loaded on, the more useful the system becomes. Right now my Metro pass only helps me when I use Metro’s services. An open smart card payment system could let small operators, like the Loop Trolley, fit into the transportation system without users seeing any conflict at all.

    Third, the smart card must transcend transportation. If we use it to pay our library fines, buy gum at 7-11, get tickets at the stadium, and run our errands, then even people who don’t use transit will find a reason to have one. If people who don’t take transit keep a card in their wallet, then they’re half way onto the trian. Pushing the technology into the wider city also increases our ability to load money onto our cards. I used various smart cards for five years and almost always reloaded them at a 7-11 or Buy the Way.

  3. nA says:

    I am just being the devil’s advocate here….

    We seem to always whine about how long it takes to get to work or get to home using Metro. Why can’t we live close to metro stations and speed up the transit-oriented development?

    Why is it always Metro who has to take the initiative?

    If it is taking you 2.5 hrs to get to work, how long does it take you to drive? Why cannot you move closer?

    I am not being inquisitive but being a devil’s advocate.

    One of the questions on the survey should have been “Do you own car or other transporation vehicle”

    How is metro going to analyze the survey results?

    1. Courtney says:

      Working on survey results – there were over 200 write in responses to categorize and quantify. The results can be used as demonstration of community support or desire for certain initiatives or programs.

  4. RTBones says:

    nA –

    I actually live in the city, within a 10 minute walk of a metro station, and a 2 minute walk of a bus stop – both of which I use regularly. It would have taken me ~2.5 hours because I was traveling outside “normal commute hours” when metro’s frequency just isn’t there. The vast majority of that time would have been waiting on connections, not actually traveling.

    Courtney and others have asked how we can get more folks to ride the bus, which is why I mentioned it. For people that can choose to drive or take metro, time is of the essence, and the vast majority of them (at least the ones I know and work with) would have done what I did – find another way to get there.

    For the record – I was traveling from the Galleria, and I work north of the airport, which is a minimum of two changes (bus to bus, or train to bus). I wasn’t out in some area not served by metro.

  5. RTBones says:

    I don’t have an edit button, so you’ll see a second comment from me. 🙂

    nA – as to why is it Metro that has to take the initiative? Simple – we are paying the bill, or in other words, they work for us. Our tax dollars go to fund metro. You want my money for metro? Then make it worth my while. Give me a service I can use. One of my complaints with metro is that they cater to the lowest common denominator of traveler – the people that MUST use transit. When you ask me why more people aren’t riding the buses, and what metro could do to get more folks to ride – as someone who has the ability to choose, I’ll let them have it. I can choose. Sometimes, I choose metro (I do have a monthly pass). Sometimes, I choose to drive. I would like to be able to choose metro all the time, but I can’t. Metro doesn’t go where I need to be with enough frequency and reliability for me to count on it. For those times when I need to be somewhere at a specific time with little wiggle room, I’ll usually drive. Buses are late too often and I’ve missed connections too many times (and been stuck for a half hour waiting for the next bus) to rely on it.

  6. nA says:

    Thanks for sharing your views and perspective RTBones. My thoughts will follow but let me Courtney one question.

    Why cannot the bus drivers use phone system (whatever it is called to talk to dispatch agent?) to let the connecting bus’s driver know that a passenger is trying to connect the bus if it is within reasonable amount of time and not passengers fault. I understand that you expect your passengers to have enough time between connections but come on if technology is there to communicate why cannot they use it?

    RTBones is one of the riders if not the only few who miss connections. As he said I am also one of the riders who chooses metro 99% of times even though time is essense for me. You need to make these flexibilities.

    The other day, all of a sudden a bus stop was taken and the bus driver would not budge to stop since it is was not the designated stop for that particular bus, cannot she have the leeway/flexibility to make a stop since I was not aware? I had to walk 15 minutes in cold to get to my destination. I could have very well chosen to drive.

  7. nA says:

    But there was another driver who stopped for a rider next time saying “for future references please be aware that this is not a designated stop and he let the passenger off” which is the way he needs to do his job. Very well done!

  8. Money Make Money says:

    Real truth comments, excelent

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