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Trying To Get to South County Via MetroBus; My Scooter Awaits

October 7, 2006 Public Transit, Scooters, St. Louis County 12 Comments

I figure I preach enough about walking and using mass transit I should make such a person attempt myself. You see, my beloved scooter got a flat tire from a nail on Monday evening as I was heading to dinner downtown. I ended up pushing it the last 6 blocks to meet my friend, late. I left it in another friend’s parking garage downtown until the dealer could come and pick it up. I’d been meaning to take it in for routine service anyway so the timing was actually OK. Now it is ready this fine Saturday morning and I need to pick it up and ride back home. It is located at Mungenast Motorsports behind Dave Mungenast’s St. Louis Honda on South Lindbergh.

This obviously excludes me driving my car down there as I’d have to go back somehow later and get my car. My first thought was to get a friend to drop me off but then I wondered if I could just take the bus to get there. Why inconvenience a friend and use more gas when the bus is likely going that way anyway. Plus, I can’t let Joe Frank be the only blogging about taking the bus.

So I pull up Metro’s recent “TripFinder” website where you can put in your starting point and destination and it gives you options for bus and light rail — a Mapquest for mass transit. But I was getting these weird results all wanting to take me downtown and then up North with results in excess of two hours. I discovered that although I entered the destination address of 5939 South Lindbergh Blvd the software dropped the “South” part and wanted to take me to Florissant in North County. Zip codes are not allowed or at least I haven’t found any combination of commas or whatever that permits them. Some mapping software will ask do you mean “South” or “North” 5939 Lindbergh just to make sure. This, however, gave me no such option. From past observation I knew I had two bus routes near my house that both ended up at South County Mall which is not far from my destination but probably further than I’d be willing to walk both due to distance and environment (suburban hell). I pulled up Metro’s system map and confirmed that #40 and #93 both make it to the mall.

The TripFinder offers another way to find the address, I can use a map or find a street and look for stops on that street. So, I pull up Lindbergh and they have a very long list of stops on Lindbergh — 5 pages of stops. Makes sense, the street is very long cutting across a wide swath of the region. And Lindbergh is listed as “Lindbergh”, “Lindbergh US-61”, “Lindbergh Blvd” and so on with the cross streets coming after that. I looked up the area on Google and saw that Mueller Rd was probably a likely stop. I picked page 3 of the list and found the Mueller stop relatively easy. Plug it in and I’ve got my logical route to South County Mall via the #93 with a transfer to the #49 along Lindbergh. Total travel time, just a few over an hour. Total time figuring this out, about 10-15 minutes. For a frame of reference, Google says the drive is 8.2 miles and should take 13 minutes.

So I am debating. The fare is $2.25 (bus w/transfer) which is not a big deal but I had to check my wallet to make sure I had some singles as they don’t make change. Looking at the schedule I see that half the hour travel time is spent waiting at the JC Penny at South County Mall, not exactly my idea of a good way to spend a nice Saturday. I do have class reading to do but I’d have to carry a backpack and my motorcycle helmet on the bus and while I am waiting. The bus leaving near my house on the #93 is on an hourly headway so I have to work on that schedule as well.

I just called my friend, he is picking me up in an hour.

On a somewhat related note: Dave Mungenast Sr. recently pass away from cancer. I had the fortune to meet and talk with him earlier this year while visiting his Classic Motorcycle Museum on Gravois in South City. I, of course, bent his ear about opening a new shop in the city for his Honda scooter sales. I had hoped to talk to him more in the future as he had great knowledge about what the city was like in the 1950s. The motorcycle museum location on Gravois was one of his early auto dealerships before he and nearly every other business fled to the once greener pastures of the suburbs. My condolences go out to the Mungenast family for their loss.


Currently there are "12 comments" on this Article:

  1. travis reems says:

    A question from a point of ignorance, how much does the scooter weigh, and would it fit (sticking out) in your trunk?

    [UR — Fair question. The scooter has a “dry weight” of 163lbs. The trick is you can’t just put a gas powered vehicle on its side as you might a bicycle otherwise you’ll have fuel and motor oil in places you don’t want it. Scooters and motorcycles are best transported right side up which means a van or pickup with straps to hold it place. Plus, putting a scooter into a car would likely damage the scooter, the car or both. But, a fair question from anyone that has never had a scooter.]

  2. MJ says:


    Sorry to hear about your flat tire

    Your struggles with trying to use public transit are similar to mine the summer of 2005. Metro increased fares but decreased service, which increased the time it took for me to get to and from work each day. Figuring I had better things to do with 3.5 hours a day, I went down to Vespa St Louis and bought myself a scooter.

    IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST DECISIONS I have made. I was a 15 year long passenger of the St Louis public transit system. I sometimes miss taking the bus and metrolink because there is a sense of community when one takes the same bus to and from work everyday. You get to kind of know people who share your ride everyday. I don’t have that even on my scooter, although people who are confined to their cars will often talk to me when we are both at the stop light.

    Scoot on!!!

  3. You’ve just found out why I started riding my bike to work in downtown Milwaukee instead of waiting for the bus, even when it’s getting damn cold out. I figured if I’m gonna sit outside and freeze for 20 minutes, I might as well at least be where I’m going when I’m done.

  4. Joe Frank says:

    “Looking at the schedule I see that half the hour travel time is spent waiting at the JC Penny at South County Mall, not exactly my idea of a good way to spend a nice Saturday.”

    Hey, there are much worse places to wait for a half-hour! Maybe you could go down into the basement of the Penneys and find some nice slacks!

    Seriously though, when I lived with my parents near I-255 and Telegraph Road and had to transfer for that last short leg at the Mall, I often sat for 30-45 minutes in blazing summer heat at the former bus stop outside the lower level of Famous-Barr. Not so fun.

    I’m not sure how far your house is from the #08 Bates line, but you could have tried taking the #08 to Shrewsbury MetroLink station, then the #47 Tesson Ferry south to Lindbergh. Lindbergh and 21 is not too far a walk from Mungenast Honda. But that might be a pretty long walk fron your house to Grand and Bates; and neither of these new routes runs very often.

    Obviously, TripFinder has some kinks to be worked out; always verify what it says against real world conditions and printed schedules / System Map, when available.

  5. oakland says:

    The trip finder is very adept at generating routings that contradict common sense, if you can even get it to accept the addresses. The CTA trip planner in Chicago, for example, certainly seems to have no problem accepting north/south designations on streets and being smarter about suggesting alternate spellings, rather than outright rejecting inputs as the Bi-State trip planner does.

    I once had the Bi-State trip finder tell me that rather than just take a ten minute walk from a metrolink station to the destination, I should deboard the metrolink three stops sooner, and then transfer to a bus for a 25 minute trip, which’d put me at a five minute walk from the destination. That route would add 10 minutes to the trip to save a 5 minute walk.

    I have my doubts about their abilities to really tweak the trip finder that much, given it is a software package developed by the Swedish firm WM Data. This is evidenced by that they’ve not even changed the default help page to remove the references to the original package name, “NTP Trip Planner.” If they’ve not done that, then good luck with them tweaking the routing.

    You’ve hit on the exact reason why people in St. Louis who have any other alternate means of transportation at all do not take the bus for these one-off trips. It’s worth spending 20 minutes to plan a commute if you do it every day, but why spend that much to plan a ten minute trip you’ll only do once?

  6. Todd Plesko says:

    WM Data is the company that developed the scheduling algorithum. It is marketed in the US by a company called Onterra.

    Metro employees who are regular users of the trip planner do not type in an address. If you do, it must use the exact format for street names. The system will not even find 707 N. First Street which is Metro’s headquarters.

    Metro had an another trip planner developed by its scheduling system developer (Trapeze software systems). This system was used by our telephone information personnel. However, to save money on support fees and force usage of the web based system, those responsible for this implementation eliminated access to this software which could find addresses.

    Anyway, Metro will implemented an improved ARCIMS system map (like the city’s GIS website) sometime this year or early next year.

    I don’t know what the possibility for the fuzzy logic on addresses however. Metro’s planning group did some test work with Google to use their trip planning and we tested it with our data. Worked great typing in nearly any type of address. Metro elected not to pursue this however. While free, at least one key group within Metro felt it would take took much valuable support time. Perhaps that is true, but I wonder.

    Finally, if you want Trip finder to work its best, type in the street name without any North, South or any Street, Avenue. For example, if you want South Lindbergh Blvd., just type Lindbergh and the system will ask for cross streets, bus stops, or an address. If you want Shrewsbury Metrolink Station, type in “Metrolink” and select “Shrewsbury I-44” from the list. This nearly always works.

  7. oakland says:

    Todd Plesko wrote:
    Metro employees who are regular users of the trip planner do not type in an address. If you do, it must use the exact format for street names. The system will not even find 707 N. First Street which is Metro’s headquarters.

    Ha. Type in 707 N. First Street and it comes back with 707 First Capitol Drive in St. Charles.

    Just plug in First Street and you get choices for O’Fallon, Cahokia, and Warloo, but nothing downtown. Only if you use “1st St” do you get anything.

    I’ve got a hard time thinking that this couldn’t have been a red flag somewhere in the acceptance process, that Metro employees downtown can’t even easily use the tool to plot a route to their own office…

    [UR – Makes you wonder what it would taken to not get approved?]

  8. Jim Zavist says:

    I’m amazed the trip planner works at all – I’m pretty bright and it’s a challenge dealing with the multiple variables of using printed schedules and a map, so teaching a computer to do the same thing, even on a rudimentary level, is pretty impressive . . . That said, sure, transfers can and should be improved, but it’s going to take convincing the electorate, especially in the County, that a tax increase is in their best interest. Metro is fighting a losing battle with essentially a zero-sum budget and rising costs and can only “squeeze the balloon” – adding or improving service somewhere means cutting back somewhere else . . .

  9. Jim Zavist says:

    . . . and speaking of similar experiences – a weekend ago, I wanted to go from SW city to Kirkwood and tried the trip planner. Its only recommendation was three buses / two transfers. My choice still involved two transfers, only I used Metrolink for the middle segment and saved a half hour . . .

  10. StL_Stadtroller says:

    Steve, my boy, this is exactly why you should be out and about on a fine CLASSIC scoot – you would have had a spare wheel on-board and been able to swap it out and be on your way! Not to mention being able to school the occasional agressive cager in the merits of new urban transport. 😉

    I did not know about the Sr. Mungenast though. Man, that’s a real bummer on my Monday man.
    My first meeting with him was a couple years ago as I was out riding my Royal Enfield Bullet. He followed me all over S. City all the way to my house in his early Land Rover just to have a chat. He, Donnelson, Widman, and a few other big names in local M/C dealerships are nearly solely responsible for bringing Trials racing to the United States. I’m pretty sure he can even be seen in the movie “On any Sunday” with Steve McQueen, and I *think* had been inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

    St. Louis has lost a true legend in motorcycling and an outspoken advocate of the sport and motorcycling safety.

  11. Thom says:

    To enter directional street names on TripFinder you only enter the abbreviation, S for south, and then it should pull up correctly. Also, numbered street names must be entered numerically, 8th for eighth.

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