October 15, 2009

Public Workshop Report

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Tuesday’s workshop at the World Trade Center in Clayton went very well. Nearly fifty people showed up over the course of two hours and made their way around the four information stations that were put together and staffed by our Planning Department. These stations, which you can view and download as .pdfs on the Moving Transit Forward website, are designed to provide the information necessary so that when a person reaches the fifth station, they can sit down with a map, pencils, and cost information and design their ideal transit system for the St. Louis region. Finally, at the sixth station, you get to rank your top three preferences for transit enhancements.

Of course, not every single detail can be covered using exhibit boards, so Metro’s Planning staff, Finance staff, and other members of the Moving Transit Forward team are available at each station to answer questions. At the end of the evening, team members collect all of the participant’s maps to analyze and help guide the team when drawing up the preliminary thirty-year plan.

I was pleased to see how many people came, and I also appreciated how much time and energy people were putting into drawing their maps and working through the financing exercise. This public input is crucial for the plan because the whole point of these workshops is to get out and talk to folks about what they want to see from their transit system, and answer any questions they have so that their choices are based on good information.

The workshops are continuing for the rest of this week and all of next, up to the last one on October 27 at Mehlville High School. You’ve got plenty of time to get out to one or, if you just can’t make it, take a look at those downloadable materials on the Moving Transit Forward site, and work through the mapping and finance exercise. If you have questions while you’re working through the materials, please email the Moving Transit Forward team or use the Contact Form on the website to get your questions answered. When you’re done, scan & email your map & exercise back to us, or drop it in the mail to:

Moving Transit Forward
Mail Stop 144
707 North First Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63102

Remember, we want your input so we’re making it as easy as possible for you to let us know what you think.

9 thoughts on “Public Workshop Report”

  1. Patrick D. Richmond says:

    I got to the workshop and shown some of the guys where the freight elevator is so that they could have a large elevator to get the stuff up and down.

    1. Todd H says:

      Thanks Patrick – It was nice to see you there. I’m glad you had a chance to work through the activity at Station 5.

  2. Jazzy_Jeff says:

    Thanks for putting the workshop materials online. Now people can participate without having to attend the live workshops.

  3. Brian says:

    Why weren’t modern streetcars considered as a mode for the breakout exercise? With only $700 of play money, it’s clear you can’t build much more in terms of light rail functioning like MetroLink. Modern streetcars could be half the cost (or even less) than full-blown MetroLink, yet still provide more capacity (and definitely more urban development) than Bus Rapid Transit.

    Given the disparity in tax base provided to Metro, Northside-Southside will never be able to compete politically with County MetroLink extensions. I say scrap the idea of MetroLink expansion inside the City, but instead explore modern streetcar.

  4. Jimmy Z says:

    I attended the one at Flo Valley. As a wonk, my take was TMI – there was a LOT of information, probably too much, for the average citizen to digest. I do get the need to explain the financial dynamics, but it seemed tangential to the main goal of defining a marketable future system – if there’s enough justification, funding can be found. It may seem contrarian, but if enough corridors can be defined with specific build-out dates (within a decade), then, by giving more voters a reason to vote for something that they’ll actually benefit from, you can get a bigger tax increase passed than if you can only promise one corridor over 20 years, with the rest to just funding current/recent operating levels.

    In a similar vein, I thought there was too much focus on various technologies and too little focus on defining and prioritizing viable corridors. The reality is that Metro needs needs to be viewed and operated as an integrated SYSTEM. Most riders want quick, frequent, direct service to get them where they want to go, when they want to go; whether it’s by bus, light rail or rickshaw is secondary. Proposing BRT and flex routes is a step in that direction, but making the ten-year options either one LRT line or anything/everything else is not exactly a fair analysis. I know that there’s a strong preference, especially in the suburbs, to invest in light rail, but it’s really up to the agency to prioritize the technology choices and to market them as equal options. For many reasons*, the bus in St. Louis is viewed as being as much less desirable than a train and something that many potential users simply won’t choose. Until that mindset changes, convincing voters, especially suburban ones, to support higher taxes will remain a challenge!

    *”just for poor people”
    *too many stops, too slow a ride
    *convoluted routes, too many deviations, not sure where they go
    *little or no exposure to them on the inside, just see them “empty” and blocking traffic
    *and for a few older residents, streetcar nostalgia

    1. Courtney says:

      Wow, Jimmy, thanks for your feedback. I’m interested in your comment as being viewed as a system. How would you communicate to the public that MetroBus and MetroLink operate as one integrated system? Looking for your opinion.

  5. Jimmy Z says:

    The easiest way is to quit charging for transfers/eliminate the reduced fare for a single-seat bus ride or for just riding Metrolink. Currently your basic-fare options for getting from point A to Point B on Metro are:

    $2.00 single bus ride
    $2.25 single LRT ride
    $2.75 MetroBus Fare with Multi-Use Transfer

    The simple quesion is why (other than marketing and politics)? Just charge everybody (who pays the basic fare) $2.50 (or whatever it needs to be) and be done with it – KISS. With the recent service reductions, the need to transfer has likely increased, and the need to fit our scedules to Metro’s has certainly increased. The choice to use transit is driven either by financial need or an educated decision. Some financially-dependent (non-choice) riders are having to pay more through no fault of their own. Choice riders are balancing fares versus schedules. Yes, some riders will only use LRT. But most “regular” riders just want to get where they need to be as quickly as possible, and if transfers were possible at no additional cost, it’ll be a win-win for both the agency and its customers.

    (Remember, I’m a wonk – the cost per-rider of providing service is essentially the same for bus vs LRT. Free transfers can/will artificially inflate Metro’s ridership numbers since one established unit of measurement is boardings, which in turn can justify higher non-farebox funding, probably in excess of any short-term direct farebox losses. And much like how LRT fare inspection factors in a certain amount of fare evasion, yes there will be a certain amount of transfer abuse, just like how there are abuses in every other type of fare media. You gotta balance squeezing every last nickel out of your existing ridership versus making transit more attractive to non-users and convincing them to both use it more often and to support higher taxes – focus on the big picture, don’t lose sight of the forest with all the trees!)

  6. RTBones says:


    I think if you search the entire blog site, you’ll see that Jimmy (and others) have said this before. Metrolink & MetroBus are not seen as one system. Heck, it seems Metro doesnt even treat them as one system.

    So how do you change that? well, for starters, Metro could call the system by one name — calling the system St. Louis Metro would be easy, St. Louis Area Transit would be another, St. Louis Link would be a third. (I am lousy with names. I am sure someone more creative than myself could come up with something.) Until Metro and the public see this as an integrated system, there will always be that disparity.

    How else do you make this stick? How about NOT charging for transfers? If you have to, make the fare $2.50 – but that $2.50 gets you anywhere in the system. Like everybody, I don’t want to see prices rise, but I do think charging for transfers is silly. On several occasions, I have seen folks (and I have done it myself) go from the train to the bus, only to have to buy another ticket because I/they didnt buy the “ticket and transfer”. I have even heard the comment, “well, I wont be riding this again if its that complicated to figure out the right fare to take one ride.”

    Another way? Expand the train system so that it actually _feels_ like it is part of the transit system here instead of an afterthought. Taking the Shrewsbury (sp?) line all the way down to 55-255 would help. That, however, takes money – which Metro is in very short supply of.

    To further that point – almost every expansion plan I have seen is an either/or proposition: you either get a light rail line, or you get expanded bus service of one form or another – but never both. Why is that? Want to convince voters to pitch in? How about planning SYSTEM WIDE upgrades, not just a single route at a time. (Yes, I know this costs money and is difficult because of that aspect alone. But you have to find a way to get the county and city to feel like they are getting something out of this.)

    I am fortunate to live along the Metrolink line. I know many folks that live either west or south that would take the train in a heartbeat if it came close – but would never consider taking the bus. Why? In their eyes, the bus is seen as transport for poor people, let alone the fare. The first time any of them had the transfer vs no transfer fare problem, they would never ride the system again.

    What it comes down to is that views of people living in the city and views of people living in the county are VERY different. Jimmy has already pointed that out, though. An effort has to be made to get the county and city to work together as a REGION, not two separate entities. Jimmy is right again — until that problem is tackled, convincing voters will be an issue.

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