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Prop M & Gas At Two Bucks a Gallon

November 6, 2008 Downtown 40 Comments

This past summer we had gas at $4 dollars per gallon. Today, one day after the election, gas was $2 per gallon. The current world economy has reduced demand so th price has fallen from the Summer high.

Had gas still be around $4 a gallon, Tuesday’s vote in St Louis County on Proposition M might have been a yes — approving a 1/2 cent sales tax increase that would have triggered a 1/4 cent tax in St Louis City that was approved over a decade ago. The final tally was 261,317 against the tax and 245,123 in the affirmative (52/49).

To many our transit system is a way to get to a sporting event and nothing more. But for many daily riders it is how they get to & from their jobs. Gas could be fifty cents a gallon and it wouldn’t matter if the vehicle, maintenance and insurance are too costly. These persons, the ones who use our transit system (light rail & bus), will be the most impacted by the failure of Prop M to pass. But the entire region will be impacted — some employers will find out their employees can’t get to work. Without a workforce, these employers will suffer.

Service will now be cut back to meet the budget. It will be drastic. Our huge and recent investments in new infrastructure will go underutilized. Fewer people will be attracted to the system as it will be a crippled system.

The regionalist in me says we need to cast a wider net — looking to our 16-county region on both sides of the river to find a permanent funding solution. But the urbanist in me says, “F____ the County.” Focus on serving the compact city with a few runs into the older compact inner ring suburbs. Period. Let’s starve the far suburbs of our cheap labor force. Let’s pay someone to be a street vendor downtown rather than have them going to work at Chesterfield Mall.

The newly elected Obama administration will be transit friendly. We need to make serious progress over the next 4-8 years to improve our transit system. Screw a regional system – St Charles County & St Louis County doesn’t want it fine. We need to be building as many miles of on-road streetcars as we possible can. No more of this light rail in special rights-of-way, simple streetcars with significantly simpler (read less costly) infrastructure. The system needs to be about connect people & places a few miles away rather than trying to get transit to every corner of our sprawling region. Streetcars combined with high density urban zoning along the route will create new investment. Now is the time to re-urbanize our major corridors with street-level transit. Work out a deal with communities like Maplewood that abut the city. We don’t need the entire county, just the municipalities that are our neighbors.

Our city grew & prospered with streetcars. It can be done again. We in the city approved a tax in 1997 for transit that has never been collected because the county never agreed to go in with us. Screw that. If we are going to build a regional system of over-engineered light rail then we do need them. In the meantime we need to build a transit system in the part of the region that was built around transit in the first place.

We have decent density. We have the too wide rights-of-way. We have the population that is more willing to use and thus fund such a system. It is time we start acting like the independent city that we are. Add a toll both along I-64 at Skinker — charge people to enter the city to work, go to games or the zoo. I don’t need to leave the city — everything I need is here. They need us too but they act like they don’t. Let them have their environment dominated by cars, that is too spread out to efficiently move people by other means like by bus or rail. If we stopped driving out to the burbs to shop they’d notice.

Perhaps voters in 1876 were right in removing the city from the county?


Currently there are "40 comments" on this Article:

  1. John Daly says:

    Well this is certainly an incendiary post; too bad, as it tends to lessen credibility. BTW, in the 10:00 hour Charlie Brennan (KMOX 1120 AM) will be focusing on Arch ground improvements, it may prove interesting.

  2. Melanie Harvey says:

    I’m tempted to agree, Steve, the H— with the County – BUT jobs are out there and City people need to get to the County. Invisible people, who do shift work and wear service uniforms. I know, because sometimes I’m among them. The #94 Page from Wellston MetroLink may arrive at Westport Plaza with only one or two passengers but it serves dozens of industries in Maryland Heights along the way. The #91 Olive from Delmar MetroLink (“to Chesterfield Mall”) is packed with people going to a job, not going shopping.
    I agree we need simpler “light rail” a/k/a streetcars – but not just on tourist routes such as Delmar Loop that benefit only a few high-profile people… would you like to open that can of worms?!

  3. Not everyone in St. Louis County is transit averse. I use transit daily– and have for the last twelve years– but will unfortunately need to reevaluate when the new schedules come out. It’s bad for everyone in the metro region. I wonder what could have been done (if anything) to better educate the 2% of the population that would have been needed to save the transit system. As it is, what choice does the region have but to submit the proposition again and hope that it passes?

  4. Jim Zavist says:

    Thinking big versus St. Louis style: http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_10910109 (Southeast Denver is like the Highway 40 corridor out to Chesterfield.)
    I’m a big believer in a regional answer, both because the region will continue to grow, and will continue to sprawl without transit, and because the suburbs are where both the the majority of the people and the potential taxes to support transit are! What’s surprising to me is that Metro is actually three not-very-interrelated systems, light rail, buses in Illinois and buses in Missouri – they each have separate funding sources and, essentially, separate budgets. Illinois is a good example of you get what you pay for – they recieve a whole bunch more money from the state, so their service isn’t at risk. The reality is that we’re a region and the more destinations we have accessible from transit, the more people will find a use for it.
    I also have mixed feelings on shifting our focus to streetcars. I’ve come to learn that there’s a strong prejudice here among many local residents, especially those in the suburbs, against Metrobus. It’s not really a rational prejudice (in my mind), since the buses are clean, generally run on time, and go a lot of places – streetcars wouldn’t do the job any better, but they might have less “baggage” and be able to attract more riders than a transit bus will. The flip side is that streetcars DO require an infrastructure investment that’s far higher than that for a bus – the roads are already in place, no rails required.
    There’s also a reason why many people quit riding St. Louis’ extensive streetcar system in the ’50’s – they finally could buy their own cars! Fewer riders = less revenue = less service = a downward spiral. “Focus on serving the compact city with a few runs into the older compact inner ring suburbs. Period. Let’s starve the far suburbs of our cheap labor force” may feel good now, but I doubt that it’s sustainable. The city tax won’t be collected until either a) the county approves theirs or b) we in the city vote again to change the ground rules, and in the meantime, Metro is floundering. Our city continues to approve TIF ‘s and special districts that divert new tax revenues to developers, leaving Metro with a shrinking subsudy in real dollars!
    Since Prop. M didn’t pass, Metro has a pretty clear direction – get smaller and do as much as you can with the existing light rail system and a smaller bus system. Investment in any new infrastructure simply ain’t in the equation – paying for what’s already in place is going to consume any available capital funds. Yes, “The newly elected Obama administration will [likely] be transit friendly.” The basic problem is that we won’t have any local matching funds, so the funds will go to other cities and regions that do!
    Finally, funding. I’m assuming one reason that Illinois can be generous to transit is that their gas taxes are substantially higher than those in Missouri, so there’s actually money available to logically dedicate to transit. To approach anything near equity in funding, we’re either going to have to raise our local sales taxes or our local gas taxes. As many of the comments in the P-D showed yesterday, a lot of voters just had a problem with another dedicated sales tax. So, I’m guessing our best alternative will be the creation of a regional transportation gas tax, say 5 cents a gallon, collected and distributed in the urban and suburban counties surrounding St. Louis, with a defined split between transit and highways. (As a purist, I’d say it should all go to transit. But as a pragmatist, I’m willing to give half to roads, since doing so might actually get it passed.)

  5. Jason says:

    I want to say “amen brother” to the post, but the realist in me knows the county needs our workforce as much as we need them for their jobs. As much as I want to think that St. Louis city can be self sustaining it does rely on the adjacent region for both people and jobs.

  6. Curtis says:

    I’ve been taking the bus downtown to work for over 2 years now and we got rid of a car because of it. My express line is very likely to get removed come spring. My best option is probably going to push me to buy a second car again, and I hate that. But the alternative is an hour to get 5 miles to work with multiple transit lines. Currently it takes about 20-25 minutes.

    I still remember a story from a few years ago in the Post-Dispatch about Chesterfield Valley having trouble getting workers out there. The cost of housing out there put most low wage workers further away and towards the city. The price of gas makes it unmanageable to drive out there from the city for such a low wage as well. Employers there were offering free bus passes and some employees were taking 1-2 hours each way to get to those jobs. If we drop more service to the county, that is not longer an option. Both sides will suffer. Our residents working those jobs will not have work, and consumers out there won’t have low wage workers for retails and fast food jobs.

    There are likely to be some service cuts announced in the near future. Something to really make an impact in the areas that didn’t see the need for the service. After they feel the pinch, the measure will probably be back on the ballot in April with a smaller, more well informed voting audience. Don’t give up home yet Steve.

  7. john says:

    Frustration understood but the caste was dyed years ago as Metro destroyed its credibility, it had little to do with the short term fall in gas prices (sales data on SUVs make it clear). Metro’s delays have also ruined the chances of converting public spaces to more efficient and healthier choices like bike paths. In addition, Metro purposely destroyed the planned bike paths that were designed to parallel the Extension.
    – –
    Metro should now concentrate on serving the urban core and proving it can do such responsibly for the public good. Politically, leadership needs to change the financing formula (require MoDOT in regional funding to allocate a certain percentage to Metro), our highways need to become toll routes and gas taxes significantly raised. Local leadership needs to change but a region divided by design is likely to stay that way.

  8. Luqman says:

    What you view as a correct decision now, namely the separation of the city and the county, really, in my opinion, highlights what a false division the whole city/county border really is. Is there any question that if St. Louis city was still part of St. Louis county, that Prop M would have passed? The fact remains that as long as the city remains a political island, entirely separate from the county, solving the truly regional problem of urban redevelopment for the 21st century will prove daunting if not impossible.

  9. Kevin says:

    You think the county will notice if you don’t come out and shop there? I don’t think so. The best example of this is the new page bridge. In the morning it is packed going from St Chuck to StL. In the evening it is packed going back to St Chuck. And how about on Saturdays? Its empty. All those people in St Chuck stay out there other than work. They shop there, they eat there, they relax there. If it wasn’t for sporting events they would never cross back over the river. Putting a toll to get into the city will make even worse for those times when the outer ring people really do want to go to the city.

    Even though I am a St Charles resident I whole heartedly beleive the city is the heart of the Metro area. But I beleive at this point in the history of the area, the city is completely dependent on the suburbs for its existence. I love going down to the hill, Lafayette Park, or Soulard for a bite to eat. But if they want to start charging me a toll to get there…there are plenty of restaruants to eat around me. And no, they aren’t all chains. My favorite places to eat in the county are in fact family run establishments, yes we have those in the suburbs.

    On the topic of Prop M. I am just as upset as you. I beleive the metro area will never grow until it embraces a regional attitude toward fixing problems. The first of which would be a reliable public transit system. I would love to take the soul train to work. But right now it only exists in places without schools I would want to send my kids to, or in places with houses I can’t afford. Hopefully one day the county will wise up and pay for a complete metro area transit system, but I guess today is not that day. I will do my best to convince the rest of St Chuck they a mass transit connection to the city will benefit everyboby.

  10. TomShrout says:


    Thanks for starting the conversation. I am interested in everyone’s perspective. One thought is to create a transportation district, let’s say within the I-270 perimeter. Then have a vote which would include all district voters — city and county residents of the district. I think it would pass overwhelmingly. Those outside the district would have the option of annexing themselves.

    Those in the district would get improved transit services, those outside would have a few express lines. Just an idea at this point.

  11. Cheryl Hammond says:

    We need to move beyond looking to sales taxes to support Metro. Time for the state of Missouri to recognize that public transit is a critical project and start providing state funding.

    Please look at MODOT’s new initiative, called A Conversation for Moving Missouri Forward that “identifies transportation options needed to make Missouri roads safer, create jobs and improve our quality of life. It’s the next step in determining where transportation in Missouri needs to be headed and what Missourians want their transportation system to look like.”

    This initiative shows providing for rail, ports, and public transit as it’s second highest priority. Yet, a list of the 46 most critical major projects in this initiative does not list Metro or any non-highway project.

    I hope readers of this blog will go online to the MODOT “conversation” and comment. All the comments are publicly viewable and you can get them in your RSS reader. The commenters are talking about alternatives, even if MODOT is not.

    Maybe the new governor will take a new attitude.

  12. Andrew says:

    Metro in whatever existence should concentrate on the people inside the 270 ring.

    I wouldn’t recommend any large cuts to existing routes and schedules outside of 270, but for expansion purposes, metro needs to concentrate on their core clientele.

  13. Tim says:

    I still say it would be cheaper to just buy all the riders of Metro a Geo Metro and be done with it.
    When gas was $4 a gallon I actually did a trip plan on the Metro website. I would have had to leave my home at 4am to arrive at my normal time of 7:30. My normal drive time is roughly 20 minutes to go 15 miles. Also when I considered the cost of riding the bus/train it was actually more than I spend on gas each way to work since I do get pretty good milage. My favorite part of the trip on the bus was that it took me in the other direction of where I work. Nothing like going north to go south.

  14. Charley says:

    Some of us have very long memories. We remember when Bi-State first pitched light rail, showing trains running along with “Chesterfield” on the destination tag. Then they admitted that West County would probably never see light rail. And the 40 corridor was “improved” without a light rail easement. And Millions were wasted by incompetent management.

    The old adage – “Fool me once …” applies here.

    Put some competent management in place, make a plan for serving all who must pay for it – then we will see. Until then, not a dime more!

  15. Cheryl Hammond says:

    I’ve never seen any analysis that shows it would be cheaper to buy everyone a Geo Metro, although I have often heard similar statements. I would like to see an analysis like that.

    But that analysis would have to include the TOTAL cost of everyone driving a car vs. transit. And that includes the costs of surrounding every building with a parking lot – as we see in much of the county, the cost of air pollution, the cost of global warming, the cost of added congestion, the cost of building roads to support all these cars.

    You would have to figure out the costs of land lost to filling stations, Jiffy Lubes, and the entire paraphernalia of car ownership. Add on more home garages and driveways.

    And the costs don’t stop for the individual if you just hand them a car. How many people who don’t own a car now could even afford the license fees, insurance, oil changes, and gasoline? Many people don’t have cars because they can’t afford just the insurance and upkeep, not because they can’t find a clunker to drive.

    What would be the options for those who physically cannot drive?

    Actually, without a cost analysis, we already see the costs. Just look at places like St. Charles County, where there are no transit options. That’s what we would get.

  16. Brian says:

    In addition to reduced state funding, the other unspoken truth about why Metro even needs higher taxes to sustain operations is that the County is increasingly robbing the half-cent stream that’s been in place since the 1970’s for its roads (the 1990’s quarter-cent levy is paying off Cross-County). Sure, adding back all of these funds intended for transit won’t expand MetroLink, but it delay the massive cuts to service. Now, the County has the bleak choice of either giving the money intended for transit fully to Metro or accepting the cuts Metro proposes.

    As for a transit-friendly administration coming to Washington, that’s true. But it still takes local money to match increased federal funding. And it doesn’t look good for Missouri when every other transit proposition passed across the nation Tuesday, except those in St. Louis County (1/2-cent) and Kansas City (3/8-cent).
    See transit prop results at http://theoverheadwire.blogspot.com/

  17. Dennis says:

    REGIONAL REGIONAL REGIONAL!!! There’s the word we all need to focus on. People in the St. Louis area just don’t know how to THINK REGIONALLY!

  18. goat314 says:

    I guess I’m the only one that completely agrees with Steve. The hell with these rural minded county residents. Lets toll the major thoroughfares coming into the city and use that for streetcar lines and our infrastructure. I’m ready to get radical, because at this point the rest of Missouri has shown that the could care less whether the region succeeds, metrolink expands, downtown revitalizes, the riverfront is beautified, etc. etc. If it could be done…..I wish St. Louis would succeed from the state of Missouri and become an independent district like DC. Then get uber-liberal and become the Amsterdam of the United States, just to piss Missouri off! LEGALIZE EVERYTHING and use that tax money to have some of the best funded schools in the country and focus on historical preservation and environmentalism lol. But honestly something has to be done SOON! Or else this whole region will begin to decline rapidly! Hello Detroit and Cleveland…here we come!

  19. CarondeletNinja says:

    I’m with you, Steveo. I don’t favor a St. Louis “area” transit system. I think the transit system should cut lines and focus more on providing cheaper, reliable service in the downtown/midtown environments where the infrastructure exists to make it plausible and beneficial. Frankly, the $4 cost of a round trip ticket on the metro is currently too steep for my taste. I’d rather shave some of those long trips to the county and knock my ticket cost down by a buck or two. There are other alternatives for those working in one area and living in another: ride sharing, carpooling, bicycling, etc. I don’t think it’s reasonable to base the transit system on someone that wants to live in the city but work at Chik-Fil-A at West County mall. Either find a job in the city, find another viable means to work, or move closer to where you work. The people from the county will still funnel into the city in their cars, because the county sucks and is boring and there’s nothing to do there. The only difference is, those of us who live in the city and actually use the transit system will be able to do so without so much of the delay and added expense that currently exists.

  20. Tom’s got it right — we need to think of a regional taxing district as the base for our transit system. If Proposition M was a regional vote, it would have passed. The city passed the same measure already, and close to half of county voters voted yes. Why don’t we have the $80 million? Because of our fractured political system.

  21. JMedwick says:

    I like Tom’s idea.

  22. bonwich says:

    I think virtually everyone in this thread has missed the main reason that this vote didn’t pass.
    Within very recent memory, Metro went hundreds of millions of dollars over budget on the Cross-County Extension, then blew millions more on the lawsuit, including embarrassing lawyers’ fees for luxury hotel rooms and other extravagances. To most casual observers, it appeared that the Metro board had made a bad hire for director, and then had failed in its oversight of the lawsuit process.
    The current Metro director is an interim, and the members of the board haven’t exactly been out front explaining what they’ve done (like maybe resigning?) to ensure that the poor oversight wouldn’t be repeated.
    Like the crisis in the banking system, a lot of the crisis with Metro is about trust, and I don’t think they’ve done a whole lot to assure the public that they won’t repeat past mistakes.

  23. James R. says:

    While I’m feeling the f_ the county anger too, you are certianly right in one respect. Rather than decreasing the service area (having a smaller well served area) they are going to have decrased quality of service over a wider area. This is the worst of all worlds. A smaller higher level of service system serves at least some, but the larger lesser service helps almost no one. I think the problem is with any future funding. I think people will be more willing to pay to expand a working system improve a bad system.

  24. southsider says:

    How about a little analysis of the where our sales tax presently goes. I think we are trying to get too much done via this route. If memory serves there are already 2 Metro taxes in the current levy. Then the new rec center going up. (Which I presume a membership will cost the same as the Y’s, but that’s another point). Some time ago a levy for handicapped or some such. Zoo/museum district, conservation dept, and on and on. This vehicle has been exhausted for funding projects.

  25. So, there are many here who would say that the way to go about this is…oh yeah – those who complain have no solutions. But, THOSE WHO VOTED “NO” ON PROPOSITION M HAVE NO SOLUTION to the greater CRISIS that is to follow the drastic reductions which are to follow this “no” vote. The crisis is coming next spring. Real solutions are harder to come by than simply voting and passing a sales tax to fund this ESSENTIAL mode of transportation.

    Tom Shrout and others — I ask you this: after this NO vote, what kinds of solutions are LIKELY to help the Metro Transit System in Missouri (as pointed out, Illinois doesn’t have too much trouble because it is well-funded) over the next two to five years???

    For those who know people who voted “no” and think the economic condition WILL NOT SUFFER for the NO VOTE — I suspect they don’t count those who live in the city and travel to work outside the 270 loop as actual citizens and co-workers regardless of age, color, gender, and experience.

    I’ve been a mass-transit user for the past three years. Now my choices of where I can go to work will be dramatically limited unless I purchase a car — something I am unwilling to do with gasoline prices heading back up above $3 per gallon within the next year. In fact, I am more likely to MOVE TO ILLINOIS than to stay in my native Missouri — SIMPLY DUE TO THE PROBLEMS that this vote will create on the Missouri side of the river. And, yes, that DOES include some commuters from St. Charles County — because, as was pointed out, there will be those who live in St. Charles County who will no longer be able to stop in Chesterfield (well, if they still have ANY bus service to Chesterfield) or at the what-will-be-impossible-for-those-who-wanna-park at the Ballas/I-64 Park n Ride lot (because those who live in Chesterfield and will come east to the 270 loop won’t want to go further east on the new I-64). These people will then be forced into a 45 minute drive on the days when the highway is moving at near the speed limit. There will not be many of those 5-per-week commutes which will be ONLY 45 minutes. That’s thousands of hours of stop-n-go traffic and wasted fuel for those people who have been using the Metro bus and MetroLink for their trip into the city.

    On the News St. Louis blog we introduced you to Rider Strongman, a St. Louisan.

    Mr. Strongman is in his early 40s and has had a good job in the past where he made more than $40000 in a year. But along with the industry in which he was a highly-skilled worker and was even sought-after by some who knew him “back in the day”, times have changed for Rider Strongman. He hasn’t worked full-time in more than three years. He hasn’t held a full-time job in his chosen industry for four years, unless you count the time he spent working for a company which failed to pay him for 75% of his work earlier this year. You can hardly blame him for leaving that situation, could you? After all, he had to take a bus, a MetroLink train, and another train just to get to THAT job, located in the metro east, and did so for four months — paying out of pocket for the monthly bus pass which allowed him easy access to his job location. Lacking access to a job location is not always the case now, but once the new cuts go into effect, this is something with which Mr. Strongman will be forced to deal. He’ll be walking even more than he has in the past because the buses will run less frequently AND there will be FAR FEWER LINES running in the first place. Rain or shine, he’ll want to be on time, but with the shutdown of certain lines, he may not be able to GET a job outside of the 270 Loop.

    Who knows someone like Mr. Rider Strongman’s friend 57-year-old Sheila Miles?

    At $60 per month, she can get around from her house in the central west end to her primary and part-time jobs in West County. She’s able to drive, holds a license, but doesn’t own a car because it is cost-prohibitive currently living with her daughter and grandchild in her residence. Now she also doesn’t own a car because she lives along both bus lines and a train line where she can get around to most places at the current monthly bus pass rate. But, come spring 2009: fewer routes, longer waits, no service outside the I-270 loop, trains which will end service before she can get off work some nights (because she can work some nights at a 2nd job in Chesterfield only a few blocks from her regular job to earn that much-needed extra few dollars which she’ll no longer earn and spend on frivolous family items such as games, sports equipment, or maybe even a new bookbag for her booksmart pre-teen) — a veritable nightmare hits. She cannot work those extra jobs and extra hours unless she moves or purchases that used car, which isn’t likely. I think she’s got to be mad right now at the “no” voter. She’ll have to make another sacrifice, as if her daughter who works only in the middle of the day to take care of her kid wasn’t sacrificing enough already. Now, Sheila has to make a decision. Does she give up her job where she makes more than $13/hour and has benefits, plus the extra cleaning job at the office building where they have routinely given her a “bonus” at the holidays? She may well have to find a job in the city where she makes only $9.75/hour and has no benefits for a primary job.
    How does this have an effect on Chesterfield? Well, normally she stops and gets breakfast and coffee in a local coffeehouse in the morning. Also, noon lunches will be out, since she’ll no longer be able to ride with the co-workers she’ll no longer have. Dinners will never be “out” because her wage is reduced and she’ll have to put all her money to the primary debts of the house and utilities and — if she’s lucky enough to still have money for it — food.
    There goes her purchase of a new bed for her daughter — the daughter will have to live with the 20-year-old mattress. And that rug she was eyeing at Ameni’s is no longer possible.

    Bummer, isn’t it? These are only the tip of the iceberg stories. Think of these two magnified by literally thousands. Trips to the store aborted because people no longer have the cushion to go to the store because the monthly bus pass may have gone up 100%…that’s the electric bill versus bread, milk, cheese, lunchmeat, chicken for dinner, the family pack of ground chuck (because “it’s better for you”), and cola.

    Oh — and the boss of that job Sheila has in Chesterfield cannot afford to hire a new person at nearly the same rate she was making. He pushes off her work to two others who have already plenty of work now. At least he makes out okay for now — but he’ll have to eventually train someone to replace her and pay that person more than he should have to pay a person with little or no experience.

    What makes us cringe more than the unemployment rate going up? Possibly it is making the unemployment rate stay static only because the person who lost their job now makes nearly $4/hour less, and brings home $400/month less altogether. And there’s also not reporting the loss of a job because the boss has pride and won’t want to report that statistic.

    Voting Proposition M down — how much longer will those NO voters be able to be so selfish?

  26. maurice says:

    I have to agree with Bonwich. There were many issues with this tax. First off was the bad image Metro put forth and not showing their repentance for their major screw up or taking ownership. There is never a justified reason for a 160$million overrun. It is very much like the Wall street banks that are now dust.

    Then there was the economy. People don’t want higher taxes, especially when the politicians are preaching cuts. Why raise mine when I’m going to get a cut? Then there is the simple fact that people don’t have extra money. Everyone all too well remembers $4 gas and its going to take more than just a few weeks of lower pricing.

    As for cutting off the county. What happen to all the ‘we are one’ preaching? How quick when one issue doesn’t go our way we revert back to our old ways. This part of the article was very disappointing. Plain and simple.

    I know quite a few people who take public transportation to get to their jobs. Quite frankly, its a b____h. They get up hours ahead. Hours taken away from their family. Sadly, this is just going to get worse.

  27. GMichaud says:

    Perhaps a transit district within the Highway 270 limits could work, although I would like to point out even early subdivisions such as Hanley Hills at the intersection of Page and Hanley are not transit friendly configurations.
    I think attempting to run light rail all over the region is not viable at this point. When you have a massive parking lot with a parking garage at the MetroLink station at Hanley and Highway 70, it should be clear St. Louis has a sick transit system on top of a poorly laid out urban environment.
    While parking for over a 1000 cars shows the system is being used, it is flawed because those 1000 cars should be at home and the individuals willing to ride transit are able to take transit from near their home.
    Generally I have to agree with Steve. Get the inner core right first. That is the city and adjacent suburbs. A couple of rail lines to Chesterfield and South County could provide funds for rebuilding most of the inner core, including streetcars.
    The importance of streetcars is to provide alternate layers of transportation, which include bicycles, buses, taxis, cars, walking etc. That helps make transit efficient and is why in European cities transit is as convenient as automobiles.
    Economic democracy and urban planning is an important factor also. In the 1954 St. Louis City Plan there are two maps, one showing existing commercial in St. Louis and proposed commercial. The existing had small red dots all over the city, reflecting many small businesses, the proposed plan eliminated most of these dots and instead had red circles of concentration.
    Which gets to the point JZ makes about people choosing autos over streetcars. These changes were government policy modifications initiated in conjunction with General Motors, Firestone Tire and Standard Oil. The current corruption and greed of the Bush administration in reality has being going on for decades. That coupled with centralization of commercial property and attempting to control commercial property and retail sales by a financial elite translates into the shape of current city planning in St. Louis and many other American cities.
    Thus any comprehensive transit initiative must be accompanied by urban planning initiatives to help create the framework for success.
    If a successful transit system was created in the inner core, Chesterfield and St. Charles would become ghost towns.
    Which gets back to the lack of leadership. MoDot and the East West Gateway Council have no interest in serving anyone but automobile interests and their friends like Paul McKee. In general these people and the Democratic Party in St. Louis are as out of touch as George W. Bush.
    It is past time to move beyond the one dimensional automobile, given energy concerns, global warming, security concerns, quality of life issues and many other reasons.
    The election of Barack Obama is encouraging. It is time also to cleanse the region of the dictatorial government administrations that serve moneyed interests at the expense of a balanced community that serves the people as a whole.
    I would say the City of St. Louis, in cooperation with inner ring communities, could in fact raise money from the federal government and other sources by presenting plans for a comprehensive transit system in conjunction with compact urban planning and providing a new direction for the region.
    Again I agree with Steve, it’s time to forget the hidebound, insular and greed driven organizations such as MoDot and the East West Gateway Council, whose motto is “we can’t do anything.” It is time to formulate a new direction for the region without them, or as Obama says, “Yes We Can.”

  28. john says:

    Loss of credibility is due to numerous factors (choose your poison): 1. Extension over-budget, 2. Too expensive as a combination of below, above and at grade, 3. Stations hidden, 4. Stations too close together which prevents higher average speeds/longer travel times (heck I can easily beat the Extension on a bike), 5. Bus rerouted to facilitate poorly placed stations, 6. Bike/jogging/pedestrian paths eliminated from plans, 7. Ineffective management (we do know now who the clown was even though he was widely supported), 8. Charettes misleading, 9. Funds used to build large parking lots in the inner ring to facilitate BPV fans (not daily users), 10. etc., etc., etc.
    – –
    Suggesting a regional taxing district sounds attractive but will be easily undermined by a region in financial decline and a political structure that encourages competition not cooperation. The region is already too heavily taxed and raising them will cause more sprawl. It will take changes at the state level to circumvent these problems. The region is in decline and we need smart, not expensive, solutions.
    – –
    Metro will continue to be a financial albatross due to the design of the Extension and numerous other management decisions. The City-County favors highways over more efficient travel designs as proven by the decisions of MoDOT and EWGC. Until leadership in the region reflect the philosophies of experts like Enrique Penalosa, I do not expect these negative trends to reverse any time soon.

  29. Leigh says:

    Steve, those are fighting words. You better keep urself out of our Trader Joe’s…..

  30. Kevin says:

    Who are you people? Do you honestly beleive streetcars in the city and “Chesterfield and St. Charles would become ghost towns,” (GMichaud). Have you ever talked to half the people who live in St Charles? They don’t care about the city. Other than sports games, they don’t go to the city. They don’t like the city. No matter what you do, they are not going to live in the city or near it. You can’t convince these type of people to improve the city because it needs it. These burbians need to be made to understand how a strong central city improves the entire metro area. I don’t think the supporters of Prop M did a good job of doing that.

  31. Craig says:

    Amen, bonwich. I am a county resident and I recognize the region’s need for a robust public transportation program. But I voted against Prop M. Why? Metro hasn’t been adept at prudently spending money in the past, and with a “temporary” leader in Mr. Baer, there is no telling who will be running Metro and helping to make spending and strategic decisions in the future.


    I hope that most of the threats of decreased service were simply scare tactics. We’ll see.


    I find it hard to believe that a quasi-governmental agency will really shrink itself.

  32. Although I did not vote for Obama in this election, I am anxious and hope to see a push for better and improved urban infrastructure.

  33. Tim E says:

    Prop M was a reliable/regional funding mechanism for an urban Missouri area that could support and benefit most from established transit (St. Louis county and City). Furthermore, I very much believe that transit ops needed to be supported by local funds, either a sales tax, TDD, or gas tax. We might get results like this, but the discussion is much more close to home and their is consequences to mistakes (Salci’s lawsuit for instance). Voters made that clear.

    That being said, I voted for it because it establish a source to expand the part of transit that has more appeal and encourages sustainable development. St. Louis County has to admit that is an urban environment more in line with the city. I believe the county now more so then the city will miss out on federal funds that would have supported a mass of construction jobs. I find it ironic that the Feds will go back to more infrastructure funding, maybe even a 80/20 match, in order to do anything to stimulate the economy under an administration that the majority of county residents voted for. Yet, the same voters closed the door on a source of revenue to match it. Finally, the prefered expansion route actually strengthens Clayton Central Business District not the City. Who failed, Dooley in not expressing the benefits to county residents strongly and often enough.

    Unfortunately, Dooley and County commissioners decided on road infrastructure was the priority prior to this election when it decided to move $10 million a year revenue from the 1/2 cent transportation tax to supports roads, specifically Hwy 141 push to the north. This is goes directly to heart why the State doesn’t have any more money for roads. No one has the political courage to raise the gas tax. Once again, it will be ironic when the State as well as this area loses out of Federal funds because we have no matching funds to go around!

  34. john says:

    “The essence of the conflict today is cars and people. We can have a city that is very friendly to cars or very friendly to people, we can’t have both” (Enrique Penalosa). In the Lou we give priority to motorized vehicles and thus infrastructure that favors people is poorly funded and poorly managed. Listen and learn: http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/interview-with-enrique-penalosa-long/

  35. Phil says:

    john: “4. Stations too close together which prevents higher average speeds/longer travel times (heck I can easily beat the Extension on a bike)”

    LOL. uh. ok.

  36. Let me be just slightly more succinct this time.

    Proposition M was voted down. Cuts will come. Riders of mass-transit and automobile drivers will suffer.

    More importantly:

    As a result of the defeat, economic woes WILL come to the OUTER ring.

    Meanwhile, the inner-ring will continue with lesser service. Then, the inner-ring will fill with entrepreneurs who take advantage of the available workforce inside the 270 loop who use mass-transit and must stay closer to home. They’ll have both workers AND customers.

    I’m not so sure that those who live 10 to 15 minutes outside the 270 loop will have those job opportunities within the expanding areas. But those people, if they still have jobs, WILL HAVE the opportunity to be customers.

    What’s old will be new again, business-wise. The inner city economy will be more like the St. Louis of 1959 than that of 1999 in just a few years…

    CAVEAT: …if the government and the agencies with their hands in the till don’t screw it up for the rest of us.

  37. GMichaud says:

    To briefly explain how it is possible Chesterfield and St. Charles can become ghost towns. In simple terms if the city redevelops a comprehensive mass transit system, with complimentary urban planning, the quality of life would soar and the inner core of the region would become the most desirable area to live. This would be similar to a downtown Paris, Toronto, London, New York etc. These are areas that combine culture, convenience, transit with the center of the action.
    In broader terms, if an energy replacement is not found for the automobile, by necessity people will look for efficiency. However even with the discovery of alternate fuels for the automobile, suburban sprawl is not sustainable in the long run. The infrastructure maintenance costs are enormous and even new energy sources are going to always be consumed at much higher rates than in more urban areas.
    I don’t see a scenario where sprawl can survive in its present form. The best hope is to create new decentralized city centers in an attempt to make the physical environment more compact. This is already being done in some areas. It has been a huge mistake not to take a more thoughtful approach to suburban development.
    Big road builders, big land developers and other major corporate interests have gotten their way in their search for quick profits and the result is almost as catastrophic as the current financial crisis.
    Actually they are similar in many ways. For both the roots of the problem come from unregulated industries with minimum policies designed to serve the greed of a few, rather than serving the welfare of the people as a whole.
    Today this nonsense continues unabated, even in the face of serious problems facing this nation. And like the financial crisis, it will probably take a complete collapse of their known world for politicians to finally make the necessary changes. Thus leading to the statement that MoDot, East West Gateway and other local politicians are as out of touch as George W. Bush as they continue business as usual.
    The metro tax is meaningless in many ways, its like throwing a cup of water on a house engulfed in flames and expecting it to put out the fire. Dramatic proposals are needed to address the real problems. I realize transit service is needed meanwhile, but the tax discussion becomes a diversion from the real issues, a favorite Rovian style tactic.

  38. john w. says:

    Suburban sprawl destroys.

  39. Mr Brightside says:

    I agree with Bonwich. Mismanagement at Metro and Bi-State before it is legendary. The lawsuit against Metro proved that they were not responsible with funds allocated to them. You don’t keep giving money to something that shows no accountability. I had a friend who worked at a business that supplied Metro with a certain whatchamacallit and Metro would always order the wrong thing and think nothing of losing money on it. Who cares?
    I work in St. Charles and live in a north county municipality very close to a Metro stop. I would love to be able to take Metro out there, but like a writer before me, those people in St. Charles don’t give a hoot about the city. They may work in the city or county but that’s it. They have plenty of restaurants, historic neighborhoods, and Lindenwood U. is expanding rapidly. They don’t want to put up with panhandlers at the Metro stops (like I have the last two times I rode it.)
    Also at $4 a pop there isn’t much savings when you have two or more friens wth you. A little pricey for my taste.

  40. tim says:

    THIS IS CRAZY! Look at all these comments about city vs. county. Completely out of control this region is becoming.

    The city needs to unite plain and simple. More things like “toll booths” just add to the widening gap of the two entities.


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