February 24, 2010

East-West Gateway Board Approves Long-Range Plan

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Part of the Long-Range Plan Team: (left to right) Renee Ducker of URS, Jayson Hagen, Mark Phillips, Jessica Mefford-Miller, Ken Kinney of URS and Todd Hennessey

Part of the Moving Transit Forward team: (left to right) Renee Ducker of URS, Jayson Hagen, Mark Phillips, Jessica Mefford-Miller, Ken Kinney of URS and Todd Hennessy

The Board of East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCG) today unanimously approved and adopted Moving Transit Forward, the long-range plan Metro developed through transportation research and community input.  The plan offers options that EWGCG, the region’s planning agency, can use when deciding next steps for public transit in St. Louis.  Once EWGCG makes those decisions on transit service, Metro implements and operates those services.

Metro’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the plan on February 12.

The plan is a blueprint designed to help EWGCG decide how best to meet transit needs in all sectors of the region in manageable time frames. The projects discussed in each phase are:

Short-Range (1-5 years)

  • Restoring services cut last year to increase coverage and frequency back to levels before the reductions
  • Planning and design for the next MetroLink extension that would be determined by EWGCG
  • Two Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes. BRT offers higher speed, high capacity service (also to be determined by EWGCG)
  • Improved passenger amenities and technology

Medium-Range (5-10 Years)

  • Construction and operation of one light-rail expansion route
  • Additional BRT routes
  • Additional transit centers

Long-Range (10-30 years)

  • Planning, construction and operation of a second light-rail alignment
  • Begin planning and engineering for a third light- rail extension

The plan is designed to meet citizens’ request for fiscally responsible and realistic options for transit in St. Louis.  Metro cannot build any project outlined in its long-range plan until EWGCG officials approve it, and all possibilities depend on obtaining a new, long-term source of local revenue and increases in state and federal support.  A timeline for reviewing the projects will be determined by the EWGCG.

Check out the details of the long-range plan on the Moving Transit Forward website.

Capital Projects

6 thoughts on “East-West Gateway Board Approves Long-Range Plan”

  1. Daron says:

    yay BRT on interstates… (shaking head and crying) Guess I’ll take a taxi to the bus.

  2. Adam says:

    ^ you’re the one who chose to live miles and miles away from public transit. i’m sure metro would be happy to run a bus directly to your front door if you don’t mind footing the operating costs.

  3. RTBones says:

    Dont know, Adam. BRT on interstates doesnt make a whole lot of sense to me either, and I live in the city. I dont call it “public transit” when the bus picks you up at a park-and-ride lot near an interstate that you have to drive to. I call it “commuter transit.” The service, if it gets used, is only going to be used during “week-day business hours” because thats about all its good for. Yes, you might lay on a “special” bus for a hockey/baseball/football game, but there are plenty of places (bars/restaurants) that will offer some sort of shuttle service now. And given that this is the midwest, i suspect most people driving will continue driving right past the BRT stops.

    And BRT, when you get right down to it, is just a BUS, not rapid transit.

  4. Daron says:

    Let’s be clear, my family lives out of town. I live in South Korea. I use real BRT daily.

    When I move back, I’ll probably live downtown again. I do not drive, now will I ever.

    BRT can be very close to rapid transit, look at the successful models out there. It requires bus stops that are accessible and useful though. BRT is useful because many different buses can run along parts of the route. Like the new york subway trains that run to several destinations. BRT should go along a wide street, but not an interstate. Grand and Kingshighway are good. Tucker, Broadway, Market, many streets are wide enough.

  5. Jimmy Z says:

    In those immortal words, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!” A plan without the resources to implement it looks really good sitting on a shelf! Yeah, I know it’s a chicken-or-egg challenge, you can’t do either one independently (budget or infrastructure), so hopefully funding will be found for all these good ideas.

    My two big concerns with the plan are its biggest weaknesses – the failure to dream big and the failure to address suburb-to-suburb transit needs. Light rail is a big investment, but it doesn’t last forever. In twenty years, we’re going to have to start thinking about the non-glamorous issue of replacing our current rolling stock, and given the present financing dynamic, it could likely boil down to picking between expansion or replacement. Plus, “getting” a light rail line is a great incentive for voters to approve higher tax rates – when only one corridor is planned, three-quarters of your constituents have no reason to say yes.

    As a region, an ever-increasing number of trips are, and will continue to be, from one suburb to another, bypassing downtown St. Louis (or Clayton) completely. This plan continues to focus on downtown St. Louis as the hub of a multi-spoke system. For an ever-increasing number of residents, this makes Metro evermore irrelevent for their transportation needs. Yes, this is based in both politics and land planning policies, but it’s also another chicken-or-egg challenge – if Alton, Arnold, Black Jack, Cottleville or Creve Coeur has absolutely no hope of ever seeing viable public transit (other than one or two local bus routes), then guess what, they’re going to plan and build for an autocentric world, and they’re not going to be willing to support a public transit tax.

    Finally, @RTBones – Park-and-ride lots are a great solution to that “last-mile” challenge that many low-density suburban areas present. They don’t keep SOV’s off the roads completely, but they do keep them a lot closer to home. What happens is that the park-and-ride lots become virtual parking for higher-density areas (like downtown St. Louis or Clayton), areas that have ground costs and congestion that are high/bad enough to make transit an attractive alternative. And whether the connection is by rail or BRT really isn’t all that important – the real challenge/benefit is to get people out of their single-occupant vehicles for the bulk of their trip.

  6. RTBones says:

    @Jimmy – I dont disagree with you entirely. And I dont really need BRT to have a rail connection. I just dont see the plan as outlined as “public transit” when I have to get in my car to get to a lot that is only really going to be operating during the week and going to potentially dump me right back into the traffic I just got out of. The park and ride lots (at least the ones I have seen here in the US) are set up for commuters first, special events (like sports, concerts, festivals, etc) next, and “transit” last. Yes, during the week they may get used a little. But why, exactly, would I go out of my way to get to a parking lot next to a highway that I am _already_ sitting in traffic on only to get on a bus and sit in the same traffic on my daily commute? If I could walk/bike to the lot? Maybe – that is the advantage of “public transit” — if it gets me to and from where I need to go and can actually be accessed easily, I dont _need_ a car. Putting a park and ride lot next to a highway that I cant walk or bike to doesnt do me any good.

    For the record, I live in the city, so the park and ride thing has little impact on me personally.

    Now, having said that, the city of York in England has a great system that keeps you from driving in the very dense, narrow, twisty core of the city. There is a park and ride lot that takes you into the city where a car is a burden. The difference? It runs all day _every_ day. Sorry, but I dont see this BRT system doing that (with no offense intended to Metro; Metro has a hard enough time getting funding to keep the service it already has). Service in York is frequent, and heavily used. The lot used (at least the one I have ridden from, I believe there are several) is also adjacent to a mall.

    And to your point on the suburbs – I agree. One of my biggest problems with Metro and their plan is their focus. Metro is in a constant state of fighting for every dollar they can, yet I have seen very little attention given to the suburbs/county — which, in St. Louis, is where the money is. You want to get the county to approve a tax increase to give Metro some funding? How about giving the folks in the county some transit options they want, which may mean not going with the least common denominator of bus/BRT access. Yes, I know LRT is expensive — but why in a city area that was famous at one time for its streetcars are streetcars largely ignored as a potential option? Metro does have a difficult job in that the suburbs were not planned with walking in mind, but if you want folks to vote for a tax, then you are going to have to give them something they WANT for that tax — as you correctly pointed out, with only one LRT extension planned, there’s not a lot of incentive to vote for the tax. A handful of bus routes (and a small handful at that) is not exactly a viable public transit system.

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