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Most Bus Stops On A St. Clair County Route Not Designed For Pedestrians

Last week I decided to visit downtown O’Fallon IL so I could see & photograph their old city hall — which is for sale. It is just a 24-28 minute drive from my loft in downtown St. Louis but my husband and I share a car, which he uses has for work. Transit was my best option, but it would be 90 minutes each way. The first half via MetroLink light rail, the second via MetroBus.

The MetroLink stations/platforms are all wheelchair accessible, as are all MetroBus vehicles. The weak link is MetroBus stops. With thousands of stops throughout the region, a transit agency can only do so much to improve municipal/county rights-of-way. I assumed I’d be ok once I reached downtown O’Fallon so I didn’t look ahead at the stops along the way.

But on the bus I began to snap pictures as the bus stopped — in some cases as we went past stops. For those unfamiliar with riding a bus, they don’t stop at every bus stop. If you want off you must pull the cord to let the driver know you wan the next stop. A bus also stops for those waiting to board. Light rail, however, stops at every stop because they’re limited and spaced far apart.  Still, the bus stops are needed because throughout the day each and every stop will likely be used at least once.

Below are some of the images I took from the #12 MetroBus heading East from the Fairview Heights IL MetroLink station to the O’Fallon City Hall. The bus was near seated capacity when we departed the station.

One of the first few stops, just grass -- no sidewalk
One of the first few stops, just grass — no sidewalk
Entering a retail area, the stop isn't accessible at all
Entering a retail area, the stop isn’t accessible at all
Curbs & mulch at Vatterott College
Curbs & mulch at Vatterott College
This was one of the busier stops, numerous people got off the bus here.
This was one of the busier stops, numerous people got off the bus here.
St, Clair Square. No smoking at bus shelter. No access to out parels
St, Clair Square. No smoking at bus shelter. No access to out parcels
One of the worst stops was for Green Mount Crossing shopping center -- just a little shoulder and worn grass before quickly going downhill into a drainage ditch . Click image to see a list of business
One of the worst stops was for Green Mount Crossing shopping center — just a little shoulder and worn grass before quickly going downhill into a drainage ditch . Click image to see a list of business
Looking back toward the main automobile entrance.
Looking back toward the main automobile entrance.
Just to the North we see construction of a new building next to one bus stop.
Just to the North we see construction of a new building next to one bus stop.
Just around the corner the new St Elizabeth Hospital is under construction. Will they provide an ADA-compliant bus stop and route to front door? How about crossing the street to go the other direction?
Just around the corner the new St Elizabeth Hospital is under construction. Will they provide an ADA-compliant bus stop and route to front door? How about crossing the street to go the other direction?
The bus driver tried to let off at the bus stop nearest the city hall, but the ramp stopped short of the sidewalk and the height difference would've gotten me stuck. He had to retract the ramp , pull up to the corner, and let the ramp out again.
The bus driver tried to let off at the bus stop nearest the city hall, but the ramp stopped short of the sidewalk and the height difference would’ve gotten me stuck. He had to retract the ramp , pull up to the corner, and let the ramp out again.
I got around fine, but a missing ramp in downtown O'Fallon forced me into the street until I found a driveway. Washington & Vine
I got around fine, but a missing ramp in downtown O’Fallon forced me into the street until I found a driveway. Washington & Vine
After crossing Cherry 4th I got stuck trying to reach the sidewalk on the West side of Cherry. I had to stand up and pull my front casters onto the sidewalk. All while hoping I don't fall -- because I can't get up on my own.
After crossing Cherry 4th I got stuck trying to reach the sidewalk on the West side of Cherry. I had to stand up and pull my front casters onto the sidewalk. All while hoping I don’t fall — because I can’t get up on my own.

I reviewed the entire route on Google Street View, my stop in downtown O”Fallon was the 82nd stop after leaving the Fairview Heights MetroLink station. We traveled through Fairview Heights, Shiloh, O’Fallon, and likely unincorporated St. Clair County.

If you care to take a look, here’s a link to all the stops. Only a few I’d consider to be ADA-compliant.

Basically this is largely impossible for those of us who are disabled, but a miserable experience for the able-bodied. None of this was built with any consideration for pedestrians — everyone is expected to drive everywhere.  The reality is not everyone can drive. Physical, mental, emotional, and financial issues are some of the reasons why not everyone drives.

Sadly, this is the rule — not the exception. We’ve built so much that’s hostile to pedestrians and impossible for some of us. Tomorrow a similar example from St. Louis County.

— Steve Patterson

 

  • JZ71

    The title of this post should be Most Of St. Clair County Is Not Designed For Pedestrians. If Metro only put bus stops where there is “good” pedestrian infrastructure, there would be very few bus stops! The problem is not the bus route, the problem is the environment it is forced to operate in!

    • That’s a generalization — East St. Louis, Belleville, and downtown O’Fallon are all reasonably pedestrian-friendly.

      • JZ71

        And, much like every other county in the area, based on the percentage of land, it’s a fairly accurate generalization. Little that’s been built in the region, since the middle of the last century, is focused on pedestrians, it’s mostly all focused on the automobile. And most of these counties have seen significant growth, outside of their established, old, walkable, farm towns, since the end of WW II, so most of the areas that Metro is trying serve are, by default, not pedestrian friendly!

        My point is/was that a bus stop, even if it is way below acceptable “standards”, is still better than no bus stop, at all. I’m pretty sure that Metro TRIES to put stops where they will work as well as possible for pedestrians (because, duh, most of their riders ARE pedestrians, either walking to/from the stop or transferring from one bus to another, on foot, at the stop). Metro has absolutely no control over the built environment that they get to work in. They have to put both their routes and their stops where people want/need to be. If they only put them where people in wheelchairs could have full access, the vast majority of (the their transit-dependent-but-not-disabled) riders would be seriously inconvenienced.

        So yeah, I guess that could be one tactic to get better bus stops. Piss off the vast majority of riders, so that they’ll be(come?) (more?) “motivated” to put pressure on politicians, the Metro board, developers AND every private landowner in the area, to get on board the accessibility bandwagon. Or, because the bus would no longer go to/stop at many places that many people want or need to go, they’ll just give up on transit, completely, further marginalizing the whole argument for public funding of a viable mass transit system, to start with!

        • Fozzie

          Not good enough!!! Replace those 50-year old curbs now!!!

          • JZ71

            I agree – how do we make it happen?! (see more thoughts on the Telegraph post)

          • First, the ADA is civil rights law — nothing is grandfathered. St. Clair County, the municipalities, and Metro should all have these in their ADA Transition Plans — the document that outlines where they’re non-compliant and how & when they plan to address it. It doesn’t need to be immediate — there just needs to be a plan so another 25 years doesn’t go by without being addressed.

            The priority should be stops near senior/disabled housing, grocery stores, and the busiest stops.

          • JZ71

            The people you need to be talking to are St. Clair County and the municipalities. Metro’s responsibility ends at their vehicle’s door. They have neither the authority or the money to make bus stops more accessible. The land is either public right of way or somebody’s private property – it’s not Metro’s! Local governments have already had a quarter century to come into compliance, and given the pathetic results, locally, it looks like the only real solutions is for the disabled community to start suing, since it’s their “rights” that are being repeatedly and consistently violated! And once the courts say you “must” do something, guess what? Something WILL happen! (Whining from constituents is something government employees are very used to , and they’re very good at tuning it out, especially when they can’t do anything about it, because “no funding”!)

          • Once again your absolutes have failed to consider important factors. For example, many bus stops are accessible because Metro received grants to improve them. Metro also needs to be involved to ensure stops are located correctly.

          • JZ71

            So you’re saying that it’s OK to give local municipalities as pass on not making any significant efforts to comply, for 25 years, but that we need to put pressure on Metro to do a “better job”?!

            Metro is a tiny part of the “problem”. Pick any stop on your list. Say Metro invests $10,000 or $20,000 or $50,000 and makes it the “perfect” bus stop, one with a level concrete pad, a shiny new shelter, an empty trash can and free wi-fi, where does that get you? If you can’t go more than 50 feet in any direction, before you run out of sidewalk, on an accessible route? Whose responsibility is it now? Is it Metro’s, to pay for 500′ of more new sidwalks? 1,000′?! A half dozen curb ramps? New traffic signals?!

            You know what the ADA requires. I know what the ADA requires. Before the end of the LAST CENTURY, complete an inventory, make a list of what needs fixing, prioritize that list, come up with a schedule, budget the funds and GET THE WORK DONE!!!!! 25 years later and STILL seeing 90%+ of the stops being nowhere close to compliance speaks for itself. Seeing the incredible number of missing links (curb ramps, sidewalks) speaks for itself. IT’S SIMPLY NOT A PRIORITY for many people and most taxpayers!

            I’ll repeat, this will ONLY become a priority when one of two things happen. Either the municipality gets their ass hauled into federal court to “explain” why so little is happening OR a champion emerges, either on the elected side or on the city manager or public works side, and makes it a city priority because it’s THEIR priority! Otherwise, given no consequences and “no money”, the status quo will remain the status quo . . . and you’ll be blogging about this forever!

          • No, I’m just most interested in getting the problem solved — that requires all responsible parties working together.

          • neroden

            It’s probably worth hauling one of the local municipalities into federal court. You’d want to find a good test case: for instance, a municipality which resurfaced a street without fixing the sidewalks or bus stops. Which is blatantly illegal.

            Nail one local municipality with punitive damages and the others will start bending over backwards to do more than the law requires.

  • neroden

    Do you know the status of the law here? I know the transit agency is legally required to make the bus stops accessible if they own them — but they don’t. I know the municipality is legally required to make the bus stops accessible, but I’m not sure who’s legally required to pay for it.

  • Trinidad Congdon

    Wonderful! So simple. Has anyone ever wondered how to merge two PDF files online? I have, and found a simple service. If you ever need to merge some documents, here is http://goo.gl/kt91uY a really useful tool. Very easy to navigate and use.

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