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November 24, 2009

Do you want a holiday train in St. Louis? Let us know!

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I recently received an interesting Tweet from Jim Barnthouse at the Arch Observer. He wrote, “Can Metro do a holiday train?”

Every holiday season in Chicago, the CTA unveils its annual Holiday Train – several L cars decked out in strands of lights and music, complete with Santa and his elves.  The Holiday Train travels all CTA lines during November and December, and is understandably very popular among riders in Chicago.  Santa waves from an open-air flatbed while volunteers hand out candy canes.  Handpoles are dressed in red and white ribbon to resemble candy canes and overhead lights are tinted red and green.  Indeed, the cars are decked out to the nines:

Why does the CTA do this? I can’t speak for that Agency, but I imagine the answer is somewhere along the lines of “the passengers like it.” It’s a chance to add some cheer and frivolity to an otherwise ordinary commute. Comparable to why towns and Main Streets decorate for the holidays, it can bring people together in celebration and holiday spirit. And, it’s just plain fun to ride.

But Metro wants to know that St. Louis area riders would like a holiday MetroLink train. It’s a grand experiments for us. Our Chief of MetroLink operations Scott Grott said if I can drum up public support, we will do it. So let me know! Here’s how:

1. Email me at [email protected] Subject: Holiday train! If you want to tell us why, great. I’ll post the good responses on the blog.

2. Use the hashtag #stlholidaytrain in your updates on Twitter. I’m counting!

3. Call Customer Service at 314-982-1406 and tell them you would like to see a holiday train. I will keep track of messages.

We are looking at ways to decorate the train…sponsorships, employee donations, etc. If you have any suggestions or would like to sponsor the train, please let me know.

It’s getting cold outside. The economy is still stale, and we’re closing another decade. Let’s celebrate the joyful moments in life, shall we?

Metro Lifestyle

7 thoughts on “Do you want a holiday train in St. Louis? Let us know!”

  1. RTBones says:

    This is going to sound very Scrooge-like, but my honest answer is no. It has nothing to do with holiday spirit or lack thereof, but simple economics.

    We have enough problems getting funding to run the system as it is. Where is Metro going to get the money to pay for a “holiday train”? I would rather the money used to decorate the train go to pay a driver or mechanic’s salary than I would see a holiday train.

    1. Courtney says:

      We will not use operations funding to decorate a holiday train. We will seek private sponsorships or employee donations for decorations. I will most likely hang garland myself. It won’t be as elaborate as the CTA, but similar in spirit. The idea is that is a gift for riders, and will not take away from their level of service.

  2. RTBones says:

    I see. If that is the case, then I wish you luck on your quest for support.

    The holiday decoration doesn’t do anything for me, but I can understand where it might bring a little holiday cheer to some. I am certainly not against the idea, but neither am I “for” it.

  3. Jimmy Z says:

    One, seems like a fine idea. Two, any money spent to do it will be “spun” negatively by anti-transit folks. So, three, how ’bout sponsorship combined with friendly competition? Let local companies, universities or even individuals compete for the most-well-done car?!

    Logistically, it could/would be a PITA, requiring giving non-employees access to Metro property, plus having to establish guidelines and limits, plus having top deal with the inevitable maintenance and vandalism issues, but I’d still like to see Metro figure out a way to make it happen . . .

  4. DaronDierkes says:

    On night, I waited for the train at UMSL South. It pulled up, and the first car was empty. The second was packed. I got on that one. There were authentic Mexican mariachis strumming away with a couple kids trying to rap over it. Everybody was really into it, and it was one of the most amazing moments of my life. I got off at UMSL North and have lived to regret it ever since. Why did I get off? Why were mariachis playing on the train? I’ll never know.

    I’ve told this story so many times that it has evolved into legend in my head. It was an incredible moment.

    1. Courtney says:

      That’s one of the reasons I love public transit. You can five hundred ordinary rides, maybe even a few unpleasant ones, and then, whoa. An unexpected moment of togetherness and humanity. It sounds like an amazing moment. Thanks for sharing, Daron.

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