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Poll Results on Vehicles Per Licensed Driver

There are many ways to measure and compare regions/states on how auto-centric they are. For the poll last week I selected number of vehicles per licensed driver. The results of the poll are near the end but first I want to share other data.

Ford Focus at the 2011 St. Louis Auto Show
Ford Focus at the 2011 St. Louis Auto Show

Examples of vehicle miles traveled per capita in 2005:

  • 1) New York City metro: 5,889.9
  • 11) Chicago metro: 7,540.5
  • 22) Seattle metro: 8,552.6
  • 37) Wichita: 9,237.2
  • 46) Minneapolis metro: 9,585.0
  • 55) Austin metro: 10,220.3
  • 64) Kansas City metro: 10,726.2
  • 77) St. Louis metro: 11,511.4 
  • 88) Nashville metro: 12,275.4
  • 92) Oklahoma City metro: 12,325.0

I see this as good evidence our region is too auto dependent, 76 metro areas had less vehicles miles per person than we did in 2005! But maybe we’ve peaked:

When adjusted for population growth, the number of miles driven in the United States peaked in 2005 and dropped steadily thereafter, according to an analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives, an investment research company. As of April 2013, the number of miles driven per person was nearly 9 percent below the peak and equal to where the country was in January 1995. Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way. The next few years will be telling. (New York Times)

Even if we’ve declined since 2005 like everyone else, we’re still driving considerably more miles per capita than 76 other regions.

Here are the results from last week’s poll:

Q: How many vehicles per licensed driver in your household?

  1. One+, but less than two 33 [45.21%]
  2. Less than one, more than zero 21 [28.77%]
  3. Two+, but less than three 9 [12.33%]
  4. Zero 6 [8.22%]
  5. Three+ 4 [5.48%]

I’ll admit I broke an important rule when it comes to polls — keeping the answers uniform. It appears the readers who responded don’t have an excess of vehicles, with over 8% saying their household has zero cars per licensed driver.

— Steve Patterson

 

BRT: Readers Picked I-64 BRT Route Between Downtown and Chesterfield

In the poll last week, readers preferred the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route going out I-64 to Chesterfield. There was no clear preference among the other three options for a second choice to submit to federal authorities for a funding request. As I mentioned in my original post, here are the four routes being studied:

From MovingTransitForward.org:

These four potential BRT routes are options for improving transit connections between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. One of the study’s main goals is to address the need for quick, direct travel from neighborhoods north and south of Downtown St. Louis to employers located in north and west St. Louis County. The “Central Corridor” stretching from Downtown St. Louis to the Central West End and Clayton still holds the region’s largest concentration of jobs, but the largest job growth is occurring in places like Chesterfield, Earth City, and St. Charles – areas easily accessible by highway, but currently not by public transit. The type of BRT service currently being studied is intended to expand access and improve travel time to those job opportunities – of particular importance to reverse commuters traveling to major job centers in suburban areas – while also providing a premium transit alternative for car commuters. The Rapid Transit Connector Study will identify candidates for Metro’s first two BRT routes; Metro will continue to work with the region to identify future BRT routes. Other transit options identified in Moving Transit Forward, such as expansions of the MetroLink System, are intended to meet other long-term goals such as strengthening neighborhoods and encouraging transit-oriented development.
Alternatives analysis involves evaluating the performance of each alternative along parameters including ridership, expanded access to key destinations, travel time savings, and land use benefits. These technical outcomes will be combined with public input to identify the two potential projects most likely to meet project goals, benefit the region, and successfully compete for federal funding.

Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version
Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version

Here are the results from last week’s poll:

Q: Which two of the four Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes would you like to see planners seek federal funding (pick 2)

  1. I-64 Highway BRT 27 [31.03%]
  2. None 17 [19.54%]
  3. West Florissant-Natural Bridge BRT 16 [18.39%]
  4. Page Avenue BRT 16 [18.39%]
  5. Halls-Ferry Riverview BRT 8 [9.2%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 3 [3.45%]

I like the idea of a Bus Rapid Transit route to Chesterfield, but I wonder if terminating the route at Chesterfield Mall is best. At this moment there’s interest in the two new outlet malls in the Chesterfield valley, but it’s unclear to me if the valley or mall is a better terminus point. I’d like to know the logic behind this decision, likely because it would serve more people.

The Halls-Ferry Riverview route received half as many votes as the West Florissant-Natural Bridge & Page Ave routes. I like both of these routes, they both side through parts of St. Louis that could benefit from improved transit.

My guess is the I-64 & West Florissant-Natural Bridge & Page routes will be the two selected for submission for federal funding. Two routes would have a stop one block away, another 5 blocks away, and Halls-Ferry route 11 blocks east. I’m in a good place, but I want to make sure any investment in new infrastructure serves an accepting public. I know city residents will go to Chesterfield for work, but will Chesterfield residents take a bus, albeit a nice bus, into the city rather than drive? I certainly hope so!

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: City & County Should Reconcile

September 18, 2013 Politics/Policy, STL Region 99 Comments

More than ninety percent of readers that voted in the poll last week favor some form of reconciliation between the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.  Voting was nearly double the usual.

Q: Should St. Louis City & St. Louis County Reconcile? If So, How?

  1. St. Louis City should rejoin St. Louis County as the 91st municipally 65 [36.31%]
  2. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities, schools districts, fire districts, etc) should become one government body 52 [29.05%]
  3. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities) should become one government body 45 [25.14%]
  4. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain separate, but partner more 12 [6.7%]
  5. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain completely separate (no change) 5 [2.79%]
  6. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

More than 54% favor some form of consolidated government, not just becoming the 91st municipality. If St. Louis became the 91st municipality it would be the largest in terms of population and 2nd largest in land area, Wildwood is slightly larger in area.

For years I’ve favored a super consolidation  — all municipalities, school districts, fire districts, etc being made into one. But I recognize this wouldn’t be a magic bullet to solve issues of poverty, unemployment, stagnant/declining population, in the city & county. Some regional problems would be solved, but others would be created in the process — unintended consequences tend to pop up.

What needs to take place isn’t a discussion of solutions, but a discussion of problems facing the region. From there we can work toward a collective solution(s). Our history has been a group or individual has pushed a change in governance out of selfish interests. There’s been some mild effort to give the appearance of a grassroots movement rather than what it is.

I want change, I think the region needs change.  But we must learn from the consequences of other city-county consolidations.We shouldn’t do this so one person can get his wish to end income taxes and fund government largely through sales taxes. As a low-income person I know the burden sales taxes place on the poor. I’m not willing to suffer so millionaires can reduce their obligation to society.

Here are some groups currently working on consolidation/merger:

Right now I’m still research each to see if they’re legit, or just a front. Part of that includes reading from a variety of sources, for example:

If the city’s current system of having “county” offices that operate independently of the city is an absurd waste of resources and duplication of services, then what is to be said of a county that has 43 fire districts and more than 60 police departments? Compared outright to St. Louis County, St. Louis city is a model of economy and streamlined public services. It may be ridiculous that the city has a comptroller, treasurer, collector of revenue and license collector, but for many of its square miles the county is nothing – governmentally speaking – more than a speed trap that feeds money into one strip mall city hall or another. (St. Louis American)

I believe we can have a better government structure that makes us competitive with other regions, bettering the lives of everyone, not just a few.  It’ll take open dialog to get there.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Which two of the four Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes would you like to see planners seek federal funding

Last week regional transportation planners presented four Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) being considered. Soon two will be picked to submit for federal funding.

Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version
Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version

I attended the presentation at City Hall and participated in the audience voting using hand held devices. They asked a couple of questions to help them in their decision. To keep things simple I’m just asking which two of the four BRT routes should move forward with a request for federal funding.

From MovingTransitForward.org:

These four potential BRT routes are options for improving transit connections between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. One of the study’s main goals is to address the need for quick, direct travel from neighborhoods north and south of Downtown St. Louis to employers located in north and west St. Louis County. The “Central Corridor” stretching from Downtown St. Louis to the Central West End and Clayton still holds the region’s largest concentration of jobs, but the largest job growth is occurring in places like Chesterfield, Earth City, and St. Charles – areas easily accessible by highway, but currently not by public transit. The type of BRT service currently being studied is intended to expand access and improve travel time to those job opportunities – of particular importance to reverse commuters traveling to major job centers in suburban areas – while also providing a premium transit alternative for car commuters. The Rapid Transit Connector Study will identify candidates for Metro’s first two BRT routes; Metro will continue to work with the region to identify future BRT routes. Other transit options identified in Moving Transit Forward, such as expansions of the MetroLink System, are intended to meet other long-term goals such as strengthening neighborhoods and encouraging transit-oriented development.
Alternatives analysis involves evaluating the performance of each alternative along parameters including ridership, expanded access to key destinations, travel time savings, and land use benefits. These technical outcomes will be combined with public input to identify the two potential projects most likely to meet project goals, benefit the region, and successfully compete for federal funding.

One final meeting will be held this Tuesday:

September 17, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Chesterfield City Hall, Council Chambers
690 Chesterfield Pkwy W.
Chesterfield, MO 63017

The downtown inset can be viewed here.

You may not like any of the four, however, I’ve not allowed any custom answers so you can’t suggest any other routes. These four need to be narrowed to two. I did provide “none” as an option as well as “unsure/no answer.” The poll is in the right sidebar (desktop layout).

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Want MetroLink in St. Louis County, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Presentations This Week

In the poll last week readers made it clear they want to see St. Louis County use Prop A funds to expand MetroLink. I’ll show the results later in this post but I want to share information on BRT informational meetings this week, starting today:

The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.
The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.

Public meetings will be held in September 2013 to gather public input on two final, recommended projects to be advanced into competition for Federal funding. The same meeting will be repeated at three locations along the proposed routes.

September 10, 2013
11a-1pm, open house with presentation at noon
City of St. Louis City Hall, 2nd floor
1200 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103

September 11, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
The Heights (City of Richmond Heights Community Center)
8001 Dale Avenue, Richmond Heights, MO 63117

September 12, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley Campus, Student Services Center, Multipurpose Room
3400 Pershall Road, Ferguson, MO 63135

Here’s a summary:

The study is now in the alternatives analysis phase. Four alternatives have been identified:

  • Halls-Ferry Riverview BRT
  • West Florissant-Natural Bridge BRT
  • Page Avenue BRT
  • I-64 Highway BRT

These four potential BRT routes are options for improving transit connections between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. One of the study’s main goals is to address the need for quick, direct travel from neighborhoods north and south of Downtown St. Louis to employers located in north and west St. Louis County. The “Central Corridor” stretching from Downtown St. Louis to the Central West End and Clayton still holds the region’s largest concentration of jobs, but the largest job growth is occurring in places like Chesterfield, Earth City, and St. Charles – areas easily accessible by highway, but currently not by public transit. The type of BRT service currently being studied is intended to expand access and improve travel time to those job opportunities – of particular importance to reverse commuters traveling to major job centers in suburban areas – while also providing a premium transit alternative for car commuters. The Rapid Transit Connector Study will identify candidates for Metro’s first two BRT routes; Metro will continue to work with the region to identify future BRT routes. Other transit options identified in Moving Transit Forward, such as expansions of the MetroLink System, are intended to meet other long-term goals such as strengthening neighborhoods and encouraging transit-oriented development.

More information on the four routes at MovingTransitForward.org.

Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version
Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version

The top three answers in the poll were for more light rail (MetroLink), not Bus Rapid Transit:

Q: How should St. Louis County invest Prop A funds to expand public transit? (Pick 3)

  1. MetroLink (light rail) extension into South County from Shrewsbury station 41 [21.93%]
  2. MetroLink (light rail) extension from Clayton to Westport Plaza 37 [19.79%]
  3. MetroLink (light rail) extension into North County from North Hanley or airport 33 [17.65%]
  4. Apply to operations to increase frequency of current routes 24 [12.83%]
  5. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to West County 13 [6.95%]
  6. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to South County 11 [5.88%]
  7. Other: 11 [5.88%]
  8. Add new regular bus routes 10 [5.35%]
  9. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to North County 6 [3.21%]
  10. Unsure/No Answer 1 [0.53%]

I was delighted to see more funding to operations place 4th, rather than lower. Here are the 11 other answers:

  1. Better accomodation for cyclists
  2. MetroLink South City
  3. Expand metrolink into South city. Add double-buses on busiest lines.
  4. BRT to North and South City
  5. focus on service, not equpt – demand-responsive service & grid route structure
  6. North South Metrolink Roue
  7. Metrolink expansion to Chesterfield
  8. metrolink from shrews to webster and kirkwood
  9. Both North and South County Extensions
  10. How is north/south Mettolink not an option. This poll is meaningless.
  11. LRt to N County and S County through downtown.

For some reason 7 of these think County voters will let their tax money be spent within the city limits of St. Louis. The north & south light rail planning that took place a number of years ago had the extensions ending in park & ride lots on Goodfellow & Broadway, respectively. They’d never cross out of the city limits. Like Shrewsbury, they’d be built to expand further in the future.

Shrewsbury has been open for 7 years and it doesn’t look like we’ll be expanding south from there anytime soon. Just as well, where would it go?

— Steve Patterson

 

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