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May 19, 2011 | 16 Comments

Metro and the Desco Group Work Together to Keep Service to Loughborough Commons

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Yesterday there was a lot of discussion on Twitter about a significant service change planned for the south end of the #70 Grand MetroBus route.  Today, leaders from Metro and from the DESCO group, owners of Loughborough Commons, agree that they want to continue bus access at that location.

Over the last few months, Metro has been working with Loughborough Commons, and listening to suggestions from Metro customers to find workable alternatives to the current bus stop location that is on the shopping center parking lot.  If we are unable to find a solution, Metro will lose its lease with DESCO and will discontinue service to the shopping area effective Monday, June 13, 2011.  However, DESCO and Metro are optimistic that a solution can be found that will serve area employees and customers.

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16 thoughts on “Metro and the Desco Group Work Together to Keep Service to Loughborough Commons”

  1. Aaron says:

    Two questions:

    1) Why do buses need to idle rather than just turn their engines off when waiting for scheduled time?

    2) If buses must idle, isn’t there plenty of room on the far end of the parking lot for the bus to idle, rather than at the actual bus stop? I don’t believe the lot has ever been more than half full in its existence.

    1. Courtney says:

      If there are customers waiting on the bus, and it is too hot or cold, the driver has the option to keep the bus running for passengers. But obviously, its important to take into account the comfort of nearby diners. So Metro and the Desco Group are looking at alternatives, including what other areas in the shopping center that could be utilized for a bus turn around.

  2. Erik Bates says:

    What exactly is the issue here? I guess I missed the hubbub on Twitter. All I noticed was the announcement of the change.

    Of course, when I saw it, my first reaction was, “I hope there is a VERY good reason that a business would oppose a service that dropped potential customers off at their doorstep.”

    1. Courtney says:

      It is an issue about finding common solution to outdoor seating and exhaust from buses stationed nearby. They had asked us to leave the shopping area, but we are currently working together on a solution to the problem.

  3. RTBones says:

    Hey Courtney –

    You know, if you put the Grand Avenue streetcar back in, you wouldn’t have an exhaust problem….

    (Yes, I am just stirring the pot. Not being a Twitter user, I missed the hubbub of the original discussion. And while I am just giving Metro good-natured grief, my point is still valid.)

    1. Courtney says:

      Streetcar would be fun, but the more cost-effective solution is that as newer buses are brought into the fleet, they have incredible emissions controls. Thank goodness for technology. 🙂

  4. RTBones says:

    Court –

    Respectfully, I disagree. I have to call you on this one, because its rubbish.

    The “more cost effective” argument is very short-sighted and hollow. Yes, the cost to put a streetcar in is more, but they have lower operating and maintenance cost. Once purchased (albeit at high cost) streetcars are cheaper to maintain and longer (case in point, streetcars discarded in the US in the 40’s, snapped up by the Yugoslavs, are still running). A streetcar means infrastructure. Infrastructure shows a financial commitment to the area, which is important for businesses when they are looking to invest. Metro’s charter _is_ economic development, right? You know as well as I do, given equal service and a choice between bus and rail of some sort, people will choose rail everyday and twice on Sunday. You can’t simply “pull” a streetcar off the streets because of the financial commitment – its permanent. Development will follow a train/rail station – not so much for a bus stop. A streetcar will hold more people than a bus. New streetcar lines always get more passengers than the buses they replace – and Grand is your busiest route. People get excited about a streetcar when it comes in – when is the last time anyone you know (outside of Metro) got excited about a bus? There is no diesel smell, because there is no diesel. Then there is the routing – particularly in a town with horrid maps for its transit – you know exactly where a streetcar is going. Streetcars last much longer than buses. Streetcars create more walkable streets. This is because streetcars, as mentioned above, are more attractive to riders than buses, which in turns prompts more mass transit usage in general, which in turns prompts more walking–a cycle that creates more attractive city streets.

    One great advantage of streetcars is that the infrastructure serves as an orienting and wayfinding device. The track alerts folks to the route and leads them to stops. Because they are a permanent feature of the streetscape, the routing is predictable and stable (unlike bus routes). So unlike a bus, a streetcar informs and helps citizens to formulate an image of their city, even if folks don’t ride it. It is a feature of their public realm. Because of this, these streets get greater public attention.

    You won’t win the “more cost effective” argument with me, Courtney.

  5. Kevin B says:

    I agree with RT Bones that, all things considered, a return to Streetcars or an El-system is preferable for your high-use lines. Grand and Gravois are the two that come to mind as potential lines (Oh and hey Powers-That-Be — change Tucker/Florissant to Gravois all the way through, please. It’s even more important to have that consistency now if Tucker plays a larger role with the Cass Ave. bridge going up).

    For the question at hand though. Could the line exit Grand west of the light, turn up Field and onto Germania (further connecting the two routes) then enter the Desco compound (and yes, it is a compound — not a “commons”) from the South and just run along the main stretch there?

    MCT does it with their local lines and nobody (Kohl’s, Schnuck’s, Wal-Mart, etc) seem to mind. Of course those aren’t line anchors so there’s less required idling…

    1. Courtney says:

      We have to be sensitive as well to going through residential streets, because this line is very frequent and has large buses. Trying to avoid side streets. But we are looking at turning and street configurations getting into the Commons.

  6. RTBones says:

    My post above started as something that was stream-of-consciousness, grown out of a playful poke at Metro, and light-hearted banter with Courtney. Parts of my response is drawn from a list – http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/06/03/36-reasons-that-streetcars-are-better-than-buses/

    The author of the linked post does a better job than I do of articulating a stance in the streetcar-vs-bus discussion. Wanted to make sure I gave credit where credit is due. 🙂

    Have an great weekend, everybody!

  7. Carolyn says:

    I work in the commons and rely on that early morning bus to get me through that park safey to get to my job. When it wasnt sevicing that area and I would have to walk through Carondelet Prk @ 4:30 am alone just to get to work was scary!! There are several frequent Metro riders who rely on that bus to get us to work nd is the issue really about the bus idling because I can tell you the drivers were turning the buses off more often than not and dealing with complaining passengers because it would take a minute to get the bus back cool in 90 degree weather!! I mean this is a highly trafficked area with delivery tucks constant, sirens and not to mention the highway near by. The complaints are coming from those who dont even ride Metro!!! My opinion is if its bothering you that much then eat inside or take it to go! After all, you are returning to your air conditioned vehicle while I on the other hand have to hope for the best because its seems as though my opinion as a faithful metro customer doesnt seem to matter.

    1. Courtney says:

      We think your opinion as an employee of the Common matters incredibly, and we thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is good to collect stories of customers and employees who will be negatively affected if service were to leave the Commons on the #70 Grand.

  8. Carolyn says:

    It pleases me to hear from you that my opinion matters, but does it really make a difference in the decision making process??? I am really concerned that I may have to take a cut in hours or even find an alternative just to get to work. It just seems so unfair not just for myself but for several riders including many elderly who use the bus to get to the grocery store. I just want to know is there anything that I can do to prevent from losing my bus route!!!

    1. Courtney says:

      Carolyn, after I forwarded your comment to our Chief of Planning, Jessica Mefford-Miller, she sent this comment back for you:

      “Carolyn,

      Thank you for sharing your comments. We understand the value of service on the #70 Grand to Loughborough Commons to our customers, and are working to do everything we can to ensure that service to this important destination continues. Even as we speak, Metro and Desco (the property owner) are working together to try to find a solution.”

      I would suggest talking to your employer if you feel comfortable, stating how much you value the service and to please pass along to the property owners. It’s very important that we all hear riders’ side of the story.

  9. Carolyn says:

    I just wanted to know if there has been any solid news regarding the bus stop @ the Commons. I have spoken with several people including some of those who work for Metro saying that it is going to stay. There are already new schedules in rotation that list the change though. I dont want to get my hopes up only to be let down. Any way for you to clarify the info for me???

    1. Courtney says:

      Yes, it was announced today that the Desco group and Metro have agreed to work together to find a bus stop at the Commons, and #70 Grand service will continue.

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