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Metro’s Disconnect With Riders, Pedestrians

August 30, 2012 Featured, Midtown, Public Transit, Walkability 22 Comments

On Monday August 20, 2012 the Grand MetroBus stop and Grand MetroLink stations reopened. On the overhead speakers in all stations Metro, speaking in transit jargon, announced the Grand station was open for “revenue service.” Really Metro, revenue service?

From dictionary.com:

jar·gon [jahr-guhn, -gon] noun

1. the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group: medical jargon.

2. unintelligible or meaningless talk or writing; gibberish.

3. any talk or writing that one does not understand.

4. pidgin.

5. language that is characterized by uncommon or pretentious vocabulary and convoluted syntax and is often vague in meaning.

What’s the big deal, so they used transit agency speak? The use of technical jargon by any business shows it doesn’t know how to communicate with its customers. If they announcement had been that Grand was “open for service” nobody would’ve  thought they didn’t have to pay since they didn’t say “revenue” before service. Metro has problems relating to those of us that use transit, largely because Metro employes drive instead of use transit.

From the joint City/Metro press release:

On Saturday the ribbon cutting was held for the Grand viaduct (bridge). 

WHERE: South end (Chouteau side) of Grand Bridge.

(VIP and media parking will be available off Papin Street.)

The public is encouraged to take the #70 Grand MetroBus or MetroLink to the Grand Station. Parking at the new Grand MetroLink Station Park-Ride lot is also an option. The lot is located at Scott Avenue and Theresa Avenue at the northeast end of the bridge.

At least they mentioned transit after parking. I took transit to the event, but not the #70 MetroBus or MetroLink. I caught the #32 just two blocks east of my loft downtown and it dropped my off right at Grand & Chouteau, much closer than the MetroLink or rerouted #70.

ABOVE: The westbound #32 MetroBus on Chouteau just barely west of Grand. The Pevely bldg is to the left, for now.

But the real problem is how Metro didn’t connect their new work to the city. I’ve already shared this concern with folks from Metro, some who were in agreement with me and others with the attitude that created the disconnect. Let me show you what I’m talking about.

ABOVE: Metro built a small parking lot for the Grand station which included a new sidewalk for the south side of Scott Ave. The other side of Scott Ave doesn’t have a sidewalk at all.
ABOVE: But Metro assumed the only folks that would walk on this sidewalk are going to their car in their parking lot. They changed the grade and didn’t bother to connect the sidewalk so that people, like myself, can cross Scott or Theresa Avenues. One Metro employee said it’s just an employee entrance at the business across the street. WTF!?! If they use transit they’ll be a pedestrian!
ABOVE: The little bit of sidewalk along Theresa next to Metro’s new parking lot is useless anyway. Why wasn’t it removed?

What is there to connect to east of here? Lots actually, including a Metro facility. I doubt those who designed the station, parking lot and sidewalk ever bothered to walk around the area before starting the design. Designers must literally put themselves in the shoes of those that’ll use what they design.

ABOVE: Businesses exist directly east of the station, Metro could’ve helped provide a place for pedestrians rather than force them into the street or walk on grass.
ABOVE: Some buildings are vacant but being so close to a major transit hub should be helpful in getting them occupied.
ABOVE: And 4/10th of a mile east is a Metro facility.

I continued on Spruce to Compton. This would be a good route for people going to the Chaifetz Arena, Harris-Stowe and Sigma-Aldrich.

I took lots of pictures and some video at the Grand viaduct/bridge ribbon cutting but I’m not going to show you those. The speakers  all talked about how great it’ll be for pedestrians. True, it’s a massive improvement as I acknowledged here. I’m just furious the most basic/obvious pedestrian connection wasn’t planned for yet again.

To Metro engineers/planners/designers: Transit users are pedestrians when arriving & leaving transit stations. We come from and go in all directions. Able bodied pedestrians take the shortest route — a straight line. This isn’t complicated stuff.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "22 comments" on this Article:

  1. STLgasm says:

    Excellent post, Steve.

  2. JZ71 says:

    So let me get this straight. Metro has a whole new plaza spanning both sides of Scott (under the new Grand bridge), a huge improvement in pedestrian access, and you’re off on a rant about a missing 20′ of sidewalk at the east end of the new parking lot?! If there’s any blame to be placed, it’s with the CITY! The city owns the right of way. The city establishes the rules for using its right of way, and the city enforces or chooses to ignore its own rules!

    As for Metro’s nearby facility, it’s a gated facility with a single point of access off Spruce Street, a block east of Edwin Street. It’s maybe a six block walk from the new platform. Along Scott, there’s now sidewalk for 90%-95% of the route (south side). Along Theresa, it’s 50%-50% – there’s old sidewalk between Scott and Bernard, and no sidewalk between Bernard and Spruce, nor any along the south side of Spruce.UNTIL YOU GET TO METRO’S PROPERTY!

    Reading between the lines, I’m getting the impression that you expect / want to require private property owners to be responsible for providing and/or improving pedestrian facilities outside their own properties. Metro’s job is to move people, not to build sidewalks. It’s the city’s job to take a holistic look at both streets and sidewalks and to prioritize filling in the missing links. Did Metro “drop the ball” on the east end? Absolutely! It can and should be fixed. But the bigger issue here is what’s happening on Spruce, not what’s happening (or not) on Scott.

    Until the CITY decides that sidewalks are going to be required on every street, even in industrial areas, in parks along public streets AND as a part of every MODoT project, we’re going to continue to get these missing links. You assert that “Businesses exist directly east of the station, Metro could’ve helped provide a place for pedestrians rather than force them into the street or walk on grass.” No, the responsibility lies with the city. Metro has neither the resources nor the authority to force these businesses to do anything.

    • Oh great a plaza, I’ll go past all the empty plazas downtown to get on MetroLink so I can sit in another empty plaza — under a bridge. Transit is used to connect people to places and when it fails to do that simpe task it’s not very useful.

      • tpekren says:

        Come on Steve, you emblish your point way beyond what Metro is responsible and legally can do and JZ responds with the same emblishment to call it out. Then you follow with this comment
        I’m with you on the twenty foot sidewalk that Metro missed out in your first photo and you could have remain that as the focus to the point that you would probably have some converts and a willing Metro response to fill in the gap.
        I certainly agree its in Metro’s best interest to promote connections, But I’m also confused on why, how do they fund and more importantly, what jurisidication does Metro have to be responsbile for pedesterian access on city streets, MoDot right of way if any involved and private property? JZ is calling it right, every other photo you post and express discontent with has to do with everybody else. Is the whole intent to slam Metrolink? by picking a design flaw that can be easily corrected and tying it every problem that you can find in the surrounding neighborhood?

        • For the last 19 years Scott Ave hasn’t had any sidewalk to the east of the station. Metro provides a sidewalk but they fail to connect it to the existing sidewalk network beyond their property. That’s their failure.

          • JZ71 says:

            At least here, you can walk in the street. At the Clayton station, the ONLY platform access is to the northeast. The only way to get to Brentwood Boulevard, two blocks to the west, is to exit the east end of the platform, go up and over Forest Park Parkway, then backtrack four blocks! http://goo.gl/maps/inOYw It’s going to take way more than 20′ of sidewalk to fix this problem!

            Bottom line, Metro needs to decide if they’re going to have an open or a closed system on Metrolink. An open system is more welcoming to the surrounding neighborhood, while a closed system addresses the concerns that too many riders “don’t pay”. With the new fences and the single platform access point here, it looks like Metro is embracing the closed model, either for “safety” and/or for better “revenue control”.

            If I worked somewhere east on Scott or Spruce, I’d be more concerned about only having access at the west end of the platform than I would be with this missing chunk of sidewalk, especially since I’d probably be jaywalking, anyways, to shorten the distance between where the sidewalk now ends and the adjacent NW corner of Scott & Theresa . . . .

          • The platform isn’t very long, having to walk to the west end isn’t a big deal. When the city looks to connect to the west those people won’t have to walk as far. Yes, access to Clayton is a clusterfuck but that’s no excuse for the poor decisions made at Grand. Metro has already told me they’ll be making a change based on my comments.

          • The Grand station has been in place for 19 years, just dumping passengers onto Scott Ave or up to Grand. Finally money is spent to improve the situation per a Metro spokesperson so they make it easier to walk further east yet still failed to connect, a stated goal.

        • Just wanted to weigh in on a technicality. Metro legally could spend money enhancing connectivity. I know that there was a recent proposed rule change to expand what in transit jargon is called the “catchment area,” so I can’t tell you what the actual legal radius is today, but I know it’s bigger than you might think (and even bigger if it’s for bike improvements).

          I think Steve makes some valid points about connectivity but I can also tell you that there would be some people who would be outraged if we used this project as an opportunity to build sidewalks from Vandy to Compton. As with everything else, it’s a question of balancing the needs with the resources. (Politics: The allocation of resources, yes?) Money spent on sidewalks on Spruce is money that could be spent on (fill in your preferred project here).

          Personally, I’m glad Steve’s thinking and talking about these issues, even if he disagrees with the decisions that were made. After all, as he points out, transit is supposed to connect people. In fact…http://twitpic.com/apn0sn

          • Well, I’d have designed it in such a way that the same or less money would’ve been spent. I wouldn’t have put a sidewalk in the front or south side of the cars at the far east of the parking lot. That was a waste of concrete because nobody will use those sidewalks. That concrete could’ve been used to reach the street corner.

          • moe says:

            What a waste of concrete….there are many areas in St. Louis that need new sidewalks as they are unusable and make the surrounding areas look downtroden. This is the exact excuse that could be made for not replacing any of that either. Nobody will use those sidewalks, esp in an industrial area. It is about limited resources and getting the most bang for the buck.

          • The owner of one of the commercial buildings to the east told me people regularly walk to work from the train or #70.

          • moe says:

            Steve….you missed my point. It isn’t that Metro or the City missed this small amount of concrete. In the scheme of things it’s just a blip. My comment was directed more at community as a whole. There are many, many places in the City and County where the sidewalks are non-existent or crumbling. Many that are against spending money to repair these areas, which are mostly around industrial or poor areas, use the excuse that “nobody will use those sidewalks.” yet their deteriorated conditions just supports the continued downward trend of neglect.

  3. RyleyinSTL says:

    Steve is right. Whatever the causalities, clearly pedestrian issues exist. If both Metro and the city felt that proper/complete pedestrian access was important they could have made it happen regardless of the minim standards by code.

    • JZ71 says:

      The CITY needs to lead! Metro already does more than most entities and businesses. Are they perfect? No! But it’s the CITY’s responsibility, and it’s obviously neither a priority nor being done on anything approaching a consistent basis. The CITY is the one that needs to “connect the dots”. Yes, project designers “should” look beyond their specific site. The reality is that they’re being paid to look at that site and that site, alone. Until and unless the CITY (or the DOJ, via the ADA) gives them direction to connect to every potential pedestrian path, however insignificant, these “omissions” will continue to occur!

  4. Davistrain says:

    Here in Southern California, our Metro has long been accused of being out-of-touch with the folks who actually use transit. One survey showed that only about 5% of LA Metro employees “used the sponsor’s product” for their local travels.

  5. JZ71 says:

    How things are done elsewhere, in this case, Denver – the West Rail Line is a new light rail line, not dissimilar from Metrolink’s cross-county connector, aka the blue line to Shrewsbury, or this stretch of Metrolink, between Union Station and the CWE:

    “Tour de FasTracks – West Rail Ride will kickoff at 9a.m. on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at Oak Station in Lakewood. The bike event will highlight more than four miles of newly constructed pedestrian and bike-friendly paths that parallel the new light rail line. There will be great activities at the end of the ride as well! Be sure to visit the website for more event-day details!” http://bit.ly/OMubTL

  6. GMichaud says:

    I have to agree with Steve on this one. How in the hell can you spend millions of dollars on a project and not make sure the surrounding area is desirable? This is why transit is a failure. City government, Metro, the East West Gateway Committee, MoDot, Citizens for Modern Transit and all the rest fail to coordinate in even the most basic of ways. Who are the urban planners advising them? They should be fired.

    Steve is absolutely right. Hell with who is responsible, it is hard to believe when the city can tell you to paint your gutters yet they cannot coordinate making a central and important transit decisions.
    The evidence is follies such as this. Steve is right on, it is a situation beyond ridiculous. Just how incompetent are the people running things? How long are people going to apologize for them?

  7. backprop says:

    Hey, I give them credit. A few years ago, one of the announcements said there would be a “bus bridge from 8pm until the end of revenue.”

    And this must also be why drivers announce the “last and final stop,” as opposed to the second-to-last and final stop.

    Or why they tell passengers to “take all your personal belongings,” but only do so at the “last and final” stop. It’s OK if you get off at Brentwood and leave your bags on the train, but not if you do so at Shrewsbury. What good could this announcement possibly serve?

    Or why tell people to give up their seats to the elderly and disabled, but only make that announcement when departing the very first station – when there are six people on the entire train – and not in the middle when (if) the train gets crowded?

    Ahh, Metro announcements. You ruffle my feathers so.

  8. Bobbie Lang says:

    I disagree completely that the new metro station is improved. As someone who actually uses the system (unlike the planners who came up with this “great design”). I have seen first hand how difficult (okay, impossible) it is for someone who is visually impaired to navigate across the plaza and find their way to the elevators without assistance and the trek is equally difficult for anyone with a cane or a walker. The elevators and stairs should connect directly to the platform like they did before. JZ71 I wish you could explain to me how that is an ” improved” pedestrian access. All I see when I walk across the plaza is plenty of room for the drug dealers to hang out with overhead covering, plenty of seating and vending machines. If you build it, they will come.

    • JZ71 says:

      It’s “improved” if you’re trying to walk along Scott Street (the point Steve is arguing for in this post), since there’s both a better connection across the street (with the plaza) and a better, continuous sidewalk along the south side of Scott Street. It’s definitely not “improved” if you’re trying to use the stairs or elevators between Grand and the platform, since the travel distances are longer (something I pointed out when the plans were first made public). Metro has argued that the new arrangement allows a single security guard to have a full view of the platform and both elevators, something that (apparently?) was impossible with the previous / original configuration – you and I apparently disagree.


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