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Downtown St. Louis has a Circulator Bus Route, Metro Routes on Google

September 29, 2009 Downtown, Public Transit 12 Comments

I missed the news about this line when some bus routes were temporarily restored but as part of Metro’s Partial Service Restoration Plan includes a circulator bus downtown.

The route does a loop through the central business district along 4th & Broadway as well as a stretch both ways along Washington Ave.  At Tucker it drops down to make a stop at the Civic Center transit center (bus, light rail, Greyhound, Amtrak). Frequency ranges from 10-20 minutes depending upon the day of the week and the time of day.  During normal working hours the buses run every 10 minutes.  The route takes riders past two MetroLink light rail stations.

The other big news is Metro routes are now available for viewing on Google Maps!  The default setting is by car but you can request routes by foot or by transit.  I’ve tested a few trips and it did a great job and included departure times for both bus and light rail trains.  From my downtown loft to The Tivoli theater on Delmar it gave me three route choices — one bus and two light rail.  The bus is the most direct and includes the least walking, I can see the stop where I’d board from my balcony.

For more info on routes and schedules see http://MetroSTL.org.

- Steve Patterson

  • Cheryl

    You can also view Google transit on your iphone or other smart phone. Very handy when you aren’t at your computer.

    The interface is simple and easy. With GPS on your iphone, you just type in your destination and the phone can give you a choice of Metro trip plans from your current location as determined by gps. You can watch your location as you ride the train or bus if you are unfamiliar with the streets.

  • john

    Short-walkable distances now make smart Metro routes? This kind of lunacy is why Metro is a miserable failure in the Lou region. The best strategy in getting people out of their cars and trying alternatives (and then hopefully acceptance) doesn’t begin with these kind of routes but rather BRT. Five short blocks between Broadway & Tucker requires a ride on Metro for more than 20 meaning more turns, more pollution, more stops – - no wonder the public doesn’t vote to support Metro.
    – -
    Having used mass transit daily for over 25 years, these kinds of routes only work in areas where high density exists and where mass transit is already successful. Metro is proving once again why it shouldn’t receive another dollar as long as the operating motto remains “Bus Routes to Nowhere”.


    [slp --- I support a downtown circulator route. It is not walkable to all of us and to visitors it is a great way to see what is around if they venture out from their hotel.]

  • Pam

    Now, I’m all for creating efficient modes of public transportation… But when the voters in St. Louis voted down the the funding increase to Metro when it was on the ballot – what’s the first thing our local representatives do when it come time to get stimulus money…. pump that money right into funding Metro again, which got voted down in the first place!! I’m sick of seeing these awful buses driving around town empty. Lets quit feeling sorry for the poor or the extremely wealth – and support the middle class… Set-up programs to help individuals that pay their mortgage on time, have good credit, and still get screwed with high interest rates and payments thru the roof… Metro – another failure supported with stimulus money…

  • Jimmy Z

    That “last mile” is the biggest challenge in public transit. Sure, some people can and will walk more than a block or two, but many (most?) won’t, especially if it’s too hot, cold and/or wet. A downtown circulator is a great answer for those folks who aren’t lucky enough to live or work close enough to the perfect stop for service that’s actually “good enough” to give up their cars for commuting. It’s also one reason why transit is embraced by more people in other communities, whether it’s the Loop in Chicago http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/brochures/Downtown_Sightseeing_Guide.pdf the Portland Transit Mall http://trimet.org/portlandmall/index.htm or the 16th Street Mall in Denver http://www.rtd-denver.com/FREEMallRide.shtml If anything, service on St. Louis’ 99 needs to be increased – it takes more-frequent service than every “10-20 minutes” to be really successful. I’d rather see it running every 3 minutes during rush hours and lunch hours, and every 10 minutes during off-peak times, and, in a “perfect” world, it should also be free! As for “bus routes to nowhere” and “voters in St. Louis voted down the the funding increase to Metro when it was on the ballot”, my response is simply that Metro needs to give people what they want and more people will be willing to support it, and this is a critical component.

  • CHRIS

    I have used the circulator once. It tries to make up for the fact that most buses that run into downtown only go to the civic center bus transfer center and do not go east of 14th or Tucker (except for a few express buses that they added at the same time).

    I would not call Metro a failure. They are doing what they can with what is given to them. For a good public transit system you need goverment at all levels that support public transit. You also need policies and planning that encourage density and use of public transit over other modes. One example would be to put a cap on public parking spaces (ie garages) in business districts and have incentives to construct useful business space (ie office buildings, retail, etc.) instead. There are plenty of studies that have been done that prove this.

    City, state and federal government should be involved in public transit financially. Reagan cut the fed end a long time ago, Metro, formaly Bi-State, has gone down hill ever since. St. Louis does not have a progessive planning policy that encourages density or use of public transit. Both the state and federal goverment SUBSIDIZE the interstate highway system at unsustainable levels (no the gas tax does not come close to paying for it and the trust fund in going bankrupt). If you build more and more roads, you then need to spend more and more money to maintain what you already had and what you just built. If the economy does not keep “growing” you soon run into a problem. (Gas tax revenues are already down) In a recent year the state of MO spent 2 billion on new road construction, a few hundred million on maintainance and only 12 million on public transit. They once had an admission on their website (State Gov of MO) that they do not have the funding to keep up with maintainance of the state roads and highways. This begs the question as to why the keep spending billions on new construction.

    Back to Metro, we should not need to pass yet another tax to help Metro. Whether you use public transit or not or understand the importance of a good public transit system or not, most of us probably do not want to support yet another tax increase.

    What really needs to happen is a shift in priorities. The money is there, it is being spent on new unsustainable highway and road construction. Even if only some of it were shifted to public transit, a difference would be made.

  • Dennis

    Pam, you mention seeing buses running around empty. Before you assume that bus runs around all the time like that you might try following it for awhile. Or better yet get on it! All buses are empty at one point or another. If you see one empty its probably at the very beginning of it’s route or maybe near it’s end. All routes have a certain stretch that have the really heavy ridership. When you see these buses running empty you probably see them in the same place each time. Next time try following or riding one through it’s entire route. I bet you’ll be surprised.

  • Craig

    This loop isn’t costing us enough money because it is serviced by a regular bus. I demand that Metro purchase trolleys to service this loop!

  • http://www.nextstopstl.org Courtney

    Thanks for the post Steve. You are right…the downtown circulator is meant to replace some of the existing downtown service that was lost, and to tie together places that are difficult to travel to and from downtown by foot. It can be quite a hike to travel the 15 or more blocks east-west in downtown…it took our intern around 2 hours to walk the route of the #99 circulator.

    We do have a unique challenge here…St. Louis has a lower density of living than some cities, but public transit is an invaluable resource to get people to work, provide transit for people unable to drive, mitigate traffic, and encourage active living. It will always be a dynamic process to try to fit the needs of the region with the resources and infrastructure in place. Every agency has its own challenges (both positive and negative), and public input is very, very important to this process. Please consider attending one of our upcoming public engagement events regarding our long-range plan. We need to know what you think!

  • http://www.nextstopstl.org/ Jennifer

    I second Courtney’s comment but she accidentally posted a link to a post that hasn’t been published on Metro’s blog yet – we were waiting for the final schedule before posting that one. Try this one instead, and come back on Wednesday for the actual event schedule.

    People like Pam and John especially, who have negative feelings about Metro, should participate in the long-range plan (LRP) process. Even if you just drop by the LRP website (it will be up by October 13, check Metro’s blog for updates), you can leave us specific feedback about what you think Metro is doing wrong, and what you think Metro should do in the future. If you can’t wait that long, email Customer Service or the blog team today.

    Please note that the #99 Circulator, John, was instituted to help make up for a lot of service that was cut in the downtown area. This route was funded by a one-time pot of emergency money from the State. It is unlikely that Metro would introduce a new system like BRT at a time when it was cutting basic bus service. BRT is an expansion or enhancement to the present system and, while a great idea, has to be funded before it can become a reality. If you think basic bus service should be cut in favor of BRT, you should engage with the LRP process and let that opinion be known.

    If you feel strongly about transit, I urge you to get involved in the LRP, get your questions answered (like, where does the money come from and where does it go?) and help shape transit policy for the next thirty years.

  • Tim E

    Pam, As middle class myself and who has owned three homes so far in my lifetime, I don’t feel sorry for many middle class people who have a decent job and didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t manage their finances let alone live within their means or even read their loan agreement. In the early 80′s, a 30 yr fix mortgage UNDER 10% was unheard of and 20% down payment was a requirement. I don’t know if ARM’s even existed. The square footage of a house was quite less.

    Maybe it was my conservative upbringing, but last time I check, we have home loan modification programs, home buyer credits, cash for clunkers, their is going to be a cash for appliance, and the stimulus provided payroll tax cuts for pretty much everybody. To top it off, the gas tax doesn’t pay the full cost of building and maintaining our roads. The highway trust fund has required general funds from income taxes the last two fiscal years and won’t be solvent for a long long time. Maybe that has to do with the fact that gas tax hasn’t been raised in over 15 years. Another subsidy for a middle class commuter. In fact, The majority of stimulus funds in this area will go to extended Hwy 141 and Hwy 364 (Page Ave extension in St. Charles county) at a tune of $150 million plus. Whats your position on that?

    As far as Metro. I do agree with some fundamental items even as a supporter and user. The Feds getting out of funding operations should remain that way. It was good policy decision then and still is. Transit supporters want Missouri to fund Metro like Illinois. Not me. Illinois is a fiscal mess, taking on more debt and becoming a very expensive place to do business. I think Transit operations should be funded by locals within their means they dictate and the LRP should have happened a while ago. Instead Salci went on a lawyer spending spree. Finally, we got someone in Bob Baer who understands nuts and bolts of what the voters demanded last time. Lets clean it up, see what effeciencies we can promote and what routes work best, operate within the means and see what we can do about it.

  • Cheryl

    I am currently reading the 2009 book, $20 per gallon by Christopher Steiner and recommend this book. He talks about making the gasoline tax a percentage of the cost of the gasoline because the cost of road infrastructure maintenance and construction is approximately proportional to the cost of a barrel of oil.

    With Federal fuel tax at a flat 18.4 cents per gallon, the road situation is just going to get worse and worse. Something will have to give and it is not a good idea to take road money from general revenue.

    If both the gasoline tax and the actual cost of a barrel of oil rise substantially – and at least the cost of a barrel of oil will – then we need to be prepared with alternatives. We need to keep our public transit as strong as possible.

    And, of course, there are many good reasons to take transit, instead of driving, no matter what the cost of a barrel of oil is.

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