March 22, 2013

Metro Announces St. Louis Rapid Transit Connector Study: First Round of Open Houses Scheduled

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Grand Scott Ave Transit Plaza Reopening 082012 010Metro invites you to join us on March 28, April 2 and April 5, as we explore new and exciting strategies to improve commutes and expand access to economic opportunities through higher-speed transit service on the region’s highways and major streets with the St. Louis Rapid Transit Connector Study. The study will identify and advance two transit investment projects to pursue for federal funding.  Metro expects at least one project to be implemented as a result of this planning effort.

The St. Louis Rapid Transit Connector Study, a study led by the Bi-State Development Agency (Metro) and the Transportation Corridor Improvement Group seeks to offer efficient, competitive, and attractive transit service to more people and places in the St. Louis region. Some of the needs to be considered are easier north-south and east-west transit connections, faster commutes, economic development opportunities, reduced traffic congestion.

The St. Louis Rapid Transit Connector Study is direct result of Moving Transit Forward, Metro’s long-range transit plan, which several options for using the region’s existing network of highways and arterial streets for providing higher-speed, more competitive transit service. The general highway corridors identified in the long-range plan for further study are Interstate 70, Interstate 44, Interstate 64, and Interstate 55 and nearby arterial streets.

Restoration Mtg Internal 04“By improving the connections between people and jobs, education, and other opportunities, we can maximize the potential not only of our transportation network, but of our residents and businesses as well,” said Metro’s Chief of Planning and System Development Jessica Mefford-Miller.

The study is using a data-driven approach to identify and evaluate potential projects.  Recommendations will be shaped by several objectives, including improved access to transportation that supports economic growth; expansion of access to opportunities; enhanced employer access to a broader and more diverse labor pool; reduction of congestion and air pollution; and financial feasibility.

Representatives from the St. Louis Rapid Transit Connector Study will answer questions and discuss issues at three open houses planned for late March and early April.  Open house attendees will have a chance to participate in interactive activities designed to gather input into project goals and preferred transit performance criteria.  Attendees will also learn about different options for improvement to transit.

The information presented will be the same at each of the three open houses.  The open house information is listed below.

  • Thursday, March 28 from 4:30-7:30 p.m.  A formal presentation will be made at 5:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m.  Located at the JC Penney Conference Center at the UMSL Campus.  Meeting will be in the 1st Floor Lobby of the building located at 1 University Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63121.
  • Tuesday, April 2 from 4:30-7:30 p.m.  A formal presentation will be made at 5:30  p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. Located at the World Trade Center on the 10th Floor.  The building is located at 121 S. Meramec Avenue Clayton, MO 63105.
  • Friday, April 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  A formal presentation will be made at noon.  Located at St. Louis City Hall on the 2nd Floor Hall and in the Kennedy Room. City Hall is located at 1200 Market Street St. Louis, MO 63103.

About the Transportation Corridor Improvement Group:

The St. Louis Rapid Transit Connector Study is being conducted by the Bi-State Development Agency (Metro) in partnership with the Transportation Corridor Improvement Group, a partnership between East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG), St.  Louis County, the City of St. Louis, and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). 


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7 thoughts on “Metro Announces St. Louis Rapid Transit Connector Study: First Round of Open Houses Scheduled”

    1. chelseybrooks says:

      Thanks Lance! We have fixed the link.

  1. Peter Thacher says:

    Your link is broken for the study.

    1. chelseybrooks says:

      Thanks Peter! We have fixed the link.

  2. RTBones says:

    “which several options for using the region’s existing network of highways and arterial streets for providing higher-speed, more competitive transit service. ” Translation – you will be going after improved bus or BRT service, and there will be little if any mention of reinstating or installing any kind of streetcar/trolley (like Portland or Seattle) system. Headways will be large, it will be geared towards commuters only (read: almost non-existent weekend or late service), and ultimately likely fail. While buses are a necessity to feed any sort of rail network, in most of the US, if buses are the primary means of public transit, the people that can WILL take their cars.

    1. chelseybrooks says:

      Thank you for your comment about streetcars and trolleys,RTBones; you bring up an interesting and important point. It’s important to keep in mind that this current study, the Rapid Transit Connector Study, is just one effort towards implementation of the larger Moving Transit Forward long-range plan, approved by the Boards of both Metro and East-West Gateway in 2010. MTF is a 30-year framework for expanding and improving the Metro System built upon a set of core values. The plan presents a range of potential transit investments, each aimed at attaining different goals and objectives stemming from the foundational core values. Some of those potential projects are intended to strengthen the urban core through transit-oriented development, expansion of the MetroLink System, and smaller but important improvements to the Metro customer experience. Other projects are aimed more at facilitating movement around the region via transit and vastly improving the movement of people to jobs that have been spreading across the Metro Service Area for decades. The ‘Central Corridor’ stretching from Downtown to Clayton is still the region’s single largest employment ‘hot spot,’ but jobs have been chasing people outward along the region’s highways and major streets for over 50 years. The urban core does contain a high density of jobs, but so do places like Westport, Earth City, Chesterfield, and the I-270/I-55 interchange in South County. The highest concentrations of lower-income and transit-dependent people who need access to those economic opportunities live in North City and parts of North County; using the Metro System as it is today, such trips may require two to three connections and over an hour of travel time in one direction. The Rapid Transit Connector Study is one of those projects meant to investigate options for improving and expanding access to jobs inside and outside the urban core, while also giving commuters more viable alternatives to

      That said, we have not predetermined an outcome. The Rapid Transit Connector Study follows a planning process called an Alternatives Analysis. We have recommended a study area that narrows the focus from four highway corridors to two – and we are still seeking public input on that recommendation! – and in the study’s next phase we’ll be analyzing a range of transit modes and service strategies to find the “best fit” for each corridor, meaning those projects that will attain the study goals in the most cost-effective way possible. The specific alternatives (including different types of transit) explored will ultimately depend on the nature of the two corridors selected: their population and employment densities, corridor length, available infrastructure, service needs, etc. Light rail will be part of that analysis, but probably not streetcars and trolleys. Those modes definitely have their uses and offer substantial benefits, but to be honest they are most effective for relatively short routes serving higher-density areas. In other words, streetcars may make sense in certain areas of the urban core, but they probably are not a viable option for commuter service along highways and major arterials leading all the way from Downtown St. Louis to Earth City. Along with light rail, we anticipate studying a range of bus-based service strategies. Services like enhanced express routes and bus rapid transit (BRT) have been very successful throughout the world, and cities across the United States have recently planned or opened new projects in a comparatively short amount of time. Examples of projects in peer cities include Seattle, WA; Denver, CO; Cleveland, OH; Baltimore, MD; New York, NY; Eugene, OR; and Las Vegas, NV, just to name a few. BRT has rapidly gained favor in many markets due to its ease of implementation and lower capital cost; we are seeing new BRT projects that cost anywhere from $1-$20 million per mile to construct, while the cost to construct rail projects is more on the order of $40 million/mile for an average streetcar to $60 million/mile for light rail. Your comment also stated that people who can choose will choose rail, but won’t ride buses. That may be true for some ‘choice riders,’ but in cities across the country buses carry more passengers than any other type of transit. In its last fiscal year, MetroBus carried 29 million passenger boardings compared to MetroLink’s 17 million passenger boardings. Rail and bus often serve different needs and different markets, and may have differing impacts on surrounding land uses and development, but we are finding ways to attain a light rail level of service using lower-cost bus vehicles and running ways. The flexibility, ease of implementation, and convenience of buses should not be overlooked or summarily dismissed, particularly in a lower-density region like ours.

      But again, please remember that the type of bidirectional, urban-suburban commuter service we’re investigating in this study is not the sum of our efforts under the Moving Transit Forward long-range plan. The Rapid Transit Connector Study is focused on particular travel markets and some of the region’s most pressing transit and labor needs: improving access to jobs across our service area; providing transportation choice for driving commuters; expanding employer access to the widest and most diverse labor pool possible; and promoting economic development. As we move forward with Moving Transit Forward, we will also be investigating options for expanding high-performance transit service in the urban core, improving existing transit services, and catalyzing transit-oriented development. Streetcars may indeed be part of that mix, but they probably are not an effective option for meeting the goals and objectives of this particular study. Metro is committed to creating a multi-modal transit system that provides the most effective transit projects to the communities we serve, all within the constraints of available financial resources. Also, please remember that any new expansion of service – whether light rail, streetcar, or bus rapid transit – will require federal funding support for design and construction. The federal funding process is rigorous and competitive, and we must have the local/state resources available to match any awarded federal funds, in addition to stable local funds for operating the service over the life of the project. Thank you!

  3. MatthewHibbard says:

    It’s estimated it costs between $60 million to $70 million a mile to expand MetroLink. Expansion of this kind cannot be done without federal funds. Unfortunately, federal funds are very competitive and are limited. Also, as part of our long range plan, we’ve identified Bus Rapid Transit as a more cost-effective way to supplement and enhance our overall system.

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