Home » Public Transit » Recent Articles:

Readers Opposed To Loop Trolley Bailout

October 16, 2019 Featured, Public Transit, St. Louis County, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on Readers Opposed To Loop Trolley Bailout

I’m a huge fan of modern streetcars, like the line in Kansas City, but I’m indifferent to “heritage” trollies that use vintage or reproduction of early 20th century equipment. They’re great for nostalgia buffs, Instagram-worth photos, etc. Actual transportation?  Sorta, mostly for tourists.

Loop Trolley 001

Many comments I read online said the Loop Trolley was a bad idea from the start. Yes and no. Most of the established businesses in the Delmar Loop are further than a quarter-mile walk from the Delmar MetroLink (light rail) station — that’s the maximum distance most people are wiling to walk.  The #97 MetroBus runs on the Delmar portion of the Loop Trolley, but it only runs every 30 minutes. Plus, many in our region view the bus as poor people transit. And the bus doesn’t encourage millions in new dense infill construction the way expensive fixed-rail projects do.

New construction on a site long occupied by a gas station. Delmar & Skinker. The Loop Trolley’s power line is visible. August 2019.

So providing a rail system to get people the last mile to/from a transit station was actually a good idea. The problem was Joe Edwards, the Loop’s longtime advocate, insisted the vehicles be vintage trolley cars — not better modern streetcars. Modern low-floor streetcars are easy to board & exit — including for those of us using wheelchairs. Families pushing strollers also find modern low-floor streetcars to be very convenient. Vintage high-floor trolley vehicles, are the opposite.

Joe Edwards as Mr. Rogers, from Facebook. Original source unknown.

At one point a consultant on the project told me he was pushing to future-proof  the design so modern streetcars, known as trams elsewhere in the world, could eventually replace the vintage cars. Unfortunately, he didn’t prevail. Had the system been built for modern low-floor vehicles it would be straightforward to make the system actually serve local transit needs, with a future expansion east on Delmar. But no, we’ve got a system that’ll only work with vintage cars that Seattle no longer wanted.  Seattle does have a nice modern low-floor streetcar system.

Some project info from the Loop Trolley website:

Who owns and operates the trolley system? 
The Loop Trolley is owned by the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District (LTTDD) and will be operated by the Loop Trolley Company, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

How much did this project cost to build?  
The construction budget for the Loop Trolley project is $51 million, or $17 million per track mile. This is on the low side in comparison to other recently constructed streetcar systems such as Cincinnati ($36.76M/track mile), Tucson ($28.26M/track mile), Kansas City ($25.35M//track mile) and Portland ($22.43M/track mile).

How is construction and operations funded:
The primary construction funding came via a $25 million FTA Urban Circulator grant. Funding also comes from other federal grants (CMAQ, STP), a TIF, New Market Tax Credits, St. Louis County Transportation Fund, Great Rivers Greenway, Washington University, and Loop Trolley Transportation Development District sales taxes and donations. A combination of fares, advertising and LTTDD sales taxes will fund operations.

Who supported the effort to restore trolley service in St. Louis?
In addition to the Federal Transit Administration and the Loop Trolley Company, other supporters include St. Louis County, Great Rivers Greenway, Washington University, the City of St. Louis, University City,  the Missouri History Museum, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Citizens for Modern Transit, our congressional delegation, The Loop Special Business District, and many businesses, neighborhood groups and residents. 

Now the very non-profit says they need $700k to prevent becoming insolvent. The city already said no, now the St. Louis County Council doesn’t plan to take up the request. There was a time Joe Edwards could do no wrong, so he got his way on this. Too bad politicians, business executives, etc didn’t learn to say no to Edwards — at least have modern low-floor streetcars from the start or be able to add them later.

Here are the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis City & County should equally help the Loop Trolley Co. so it doesn’t become insolvent.

  • Strongly agree: 7 [11.86%]
  • Agree: 4 [6.78%]
  • Somewhat agree: 5 [8.47%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [1.69%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [5.08%]
  • Disagree: 11 [18.64%]
  • Strongly disagree: 28 [47.46%]

The Post-Dispatch Editorial Board agrees with the majority.

It was bad business from the beginning for the trolley’s promoters to have failed to foresee the low rider interest and economic challenges that led to the current crisis, and it’s bad business for the region’s leaders to keep throwing money at it. If this project is still as viable as its promoters claim it to be, let private sources cover these shortfalls. The taxpayers have done enough.

I’m torn.  I was hoping the trolley would spur new development in the city portion of the route, but this land may sit vacant for years to come.  Abandoning a project after tens of millions have been invested will have repercussions for decades to come. But I know money shouldn’t go to the non-profit that got us to this point.

Perhaps Metro (aka Bi-State Development) can take it all off their hands? Then your local monthly pass, 2-hour transfer, or Gateway Card will work for fare payment. Other than Metro, I don’t see a solution — not necessarily a good solution, but an effort to try something different to save face as a region.

— Steve Patterson

 

First Look At Metro’s Revised Bus Service (aka Metro Reimagined)

October 2, 2019 Featured, Public Transit, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on First Look At Metro’s Revised Bus Service (aka Metro Reimagined)

I’ve only begun looking at the new “Metro Reimagined” bus service in St. Louis City & County, haven’t even ridden a bus yet this week. I do recall other riders discussing it last Friday at the bus stop. One woman, who also lives just north of downtown, was upset about the west end of the #97 Delmar bus getting cut in St. Louis County. It will mean more walking for her to get to work.

The #70 Grand MetroBus is the busiest bus line in the region, partly due to being the only route frequent service. August 2012

Here are the four tiers used to organize the MetroBus routes:

  • Frequent: 10 high-frequency routes offering service every 15 minutes or faster
  • Local: 35 routes offering 30-minute service
  • Community: 6 routes that provide important connections in low-ridership areas
  • Express: 6 routes providing direct connections with limited stops to key destinations

My first place to start was asking “Will I be impacted?” by this change. The short answer is yes — every bus rider will see changes to service. Some positive, some negative.

Moving from Downtown West to Columbus Square in December 2018 means I have fewer bus routes available — basically the #32, with the southbound  #40 another 1/10 of a mile further away than the southbound #32. The northbound #32 is considerably closer than the northbound #40.

Since moving I’ve rarely used the #40, the #32 is my primary bus route. Both routes are considered “local” routes, now with 30 minute frequency during weekdays. The service was every 40 minutes, so 30 minute frequency is an improvement.

The other bus I use is the #90 Hampton, when I visit my doctor 4x per year. While it’s listed as a “frequent” route with 15 minute service that only applies to the northern portion of the route from Riverview to Forest Park. From Forest Park to Gravois-Hampton service is every 30 minutes. I think service has been every 40 minutes, so another slight improvement.

Another bus I used to ride often is the #99 downtown trolley, introduced in

Me exiting the Downtown Trolley on the day it debuted in July 2010. The bright wrap ceased being used a few years ago. Photo by Jim Merkel

The recent Sunday Poll asked about this new plan:

Q: Agree or disagree: Metro’s new ‘Metro Reimagined’ with more frequent bus service will result in significant ridership increases.

  • Strongly agree: 0 [0%]
  • Agree: 2 [7.14%]
  • Somewhat agree: 4 [14.29%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 3 [10.71%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [10.71%]
  • Disagree: 5 [17.86%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [32.14%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 2 [7.14%]

More than 60% didn’t think this will lead to a significant increase in ridership. That’s fair, I think the primary goal was to better serve existing riders — to stop losing ridership.

Riders in some parts of the county will see less service.  My intention is for future posts to look at what’s working well, and what’s not.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — ‘Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit’ by Steven Higashide

September 30, 2019 Books, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on New Book — ‘Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit’ by Steven Higashide
‘Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit’ by Steven Higashide will be available October 10, 2019.

I’ve known for a while that today’s the day Metro rolls out the biggest change to bus routes in decades. I wasn’t sure how I’d evaluate the changes then last week a new book shows up: ‘Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit’ by Steven Higashide.

From publisher Island Press:

Imagine a bus system that is fast, frequent, and reliable—what would that change about your city?

Buses can and should be the cornerstone of urban transportation. They offer affordable mobility and can connect citizens with every aspect of their lives. But in the US, they have long been an afterthought in budgeting and planning. With a compelling narrative and actionable steps, Better Buses, Better Cities inspires us to fix the bus.

Transit expert Steven Higashide shows us what a successful bus system looks like with real-world stories of reform—such as Houston redrawing its bus network overnight, Boston making room on its streets to put buses first, and Indianapolis winning better bus service on Election Day. Higashide shows how to marshal the public in support of better buses and how new technologies can keep buses on time and make complex transit systems understandable.

Higashide argues that better bus systems will create better cities for all citizens. The consequences of subpar transit service fall most heavily on vulnerable members of society. Transit systems should be planned to be inclusive and provide better service for all. These are difficult tasks that require institutional culture shifts; doing all of them requires resilient organizations and transformational leadership.

Better bus service is key to making our cities better for all citizens. Better Buses, Better Cities describes how decision-makers, philanthropists, activists, and public agency leaders can work together to make the bus a win in any city.

Though I have a hard time post-stroke reading a book cover to cover, I dived into the introduction and some chapters. Here are the contents so you can see how it’s organized:

  • Preface: My Own Bus Story
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: We Need to Unleash the Bus
  • Chapter 1: What Makes People Choose the Bus?
  • Chapter 2: Make the Bus Frequent
  • Chapter 3: Make the Bus Fast and Reliable
  • Chapter 4: Make the Bus Walkable and Dignified
  • Chapter 5: Make the Bus Fair and Welcoming
  • Chapter 6: Gerrymandering the Bus
  • Chapter 7: Technology Won’t Kill the Bus—Unless We Let It
  • Chapter 8: Building a Transit Nation
  • Conclusion: Winning Mindsets and Growing Movements

The introduction agues we must reduce greenhouse emissions from transportation — public transit it how we accomplish that goal. Specifically, the bus is how we reduce greenhouse emissions by reducing car trips — including Lyft & Uber trips.  Higashide also points out that civic leaders, business leaders, and transit agency executives & board members don’t ride the bus in their regions. Non-riders think adding wifi, for example, will make a difference. Frequency and convenience is what matters. If the bus runs every 15 minutes that’s great — bus not if you need to walk 5 blocks on each end of the trip.

If you’re interested in learning about the importance of bus service is to a region, and how to improve it,  I suggest getting this book when it comes out October 10th. Read more about author Steven Higashide here.

I’ll be using this book as a guide for my first look at Metro’s new bus service on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

City Residents Please Consider Using Public Transit (Bus &/or Rail) To Get Downtown For The Blues Parade Tomorrow

June 14, 2019 Environment, Events/Meetings, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on City Residents Please Consider Using Public Transit (Bus &/or Rail) To Get Downtown For The Blues Parade Tomorrow

Yesterday I shared a Metro post, criticizing their lack of mentioning MetroBus.

Of course, no mention of MetroBus.

Posted by UrbanReview ST LOUIS on Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fr0m their post:

MetroLink will have extra trains ready to go on Saturday as hundreds of thousands of Blues fans head downtown to celebrate with the Stanley Cup Champions, the St. Louis Blues.

With five downtown MetroLink stations a block or two away from the Stanley Cup Parade, MetroLink is the perfect option while avoiding road construction, traffic and parking issues.

What about residents of North & South city that don’t yet have light rail?

2012: The #11 MetroBus crosses Jefferson Ave. heading west on Chippewa Ave.

Yes, MetroBus is a good option. Since Metro’s marketing folks don’t seem to want to suggest their own service I decided to step up and show you some suggested routes.  Those of us who live in the city are well-served by transit, if we take it downtown that’ll ease congestion for everyone downtown.  We’re not all served by light rail.

My focus is on MetroBus routes that enter downtown, though other routes could connect you to say the Forest Park MetroLink station — the 90 Hampton MetroBus serves both North, West, & South city.  Of course the busiest MetroBus route, the 70 Grand, is an excellent option to reach MetroLink.

Because the Civic Center Transit Center is on the south edge of downtown (Downtown West technically) the south routes have less disruption from downtown events. However, most should be good, assuming you get downtown prior to street closures.

From South City:

  • 8 Bates-Morganford winds its way through the city on streets like: Loughborough, Holly Hills, Tower Grove, Shaw, Russell, 12th/Tucker, and — Bates & Morganford. On Saturday this bus runs every hour, the last bus before the parade arrives at Civic Center at 11:40am.
  • 10 Gravois-Lindell originates at Gravois & Hampton, cutting a diagonal path through south city along Gravois. Saturday morning this bus runs every 30 minutes.
  • 11 Chippewa runs every 40 minutes on Saturday morning, from the Shrewsbury MetroLink Station along Landsdowne, Chippewa, and Jefferson. Normally the EB bus heading into downtown goes up to Market but tomorrow it’ll use Chouteau to 14th to avoid the parade.
  • 20 South Broadway serves South County & South City including South County Mall, Jefferson Barracks, far south city, & Soulard. On Saturday it runs every hour.
  • 30 Arsenal is another route running through south city between Shrewsbury MetroLink and Civic Center Transit Center in Downtown West. It primarily uses Arsenal for the East-West portion and Broadway for the North-South.  The 30 runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays.
  • 31 Chouteau connects the Maplewood/Manchester MetroLink Station to Civic Center via Manchester in both the county & city, and Chouteau. It runs every hour on Saturdays.
  • 73 Carondelet serves both south county & city, every 30 minutes on Saturdays. Streets include: Michigan, Virginia, Osceola, Meramec,  Cherokee, Lemp, and Truman Parkway.
  • 80 Park-Shaw connects the CWE MetroLink to Civic Center via south city. Similar to 8 above, but the route is different. Every hour on Saturdays.

From North City — most will have a reroute in the downtown area due to the parade.

  • 4 Natural Bridge travels mostly along Natural Bridge, then using Parnell/Jefferson, usually to Market. Due to the parade it’ll reroute by staying on Jefferson to Chouteau to 14th to Civic Center. The 4 runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays.
  • 19 St. Louis Ave connects the Rock Road MetroLink to Civic Center, through the heart of The Ville. It runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays. Because 14th will be closed for the parade it’ll reroute to Olive, Jefferson, Chouteau, 14th — if you take this bus to the parade I suggest exiting at 14th & Olive.  The 19 runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays.
  • 32 ML King also connects Rock Road to Civic Center, a little further south than the 19. It uses ML King & Cass for East-West and 9th/10th for North-South. At Washington & Tucker it will due a massive reroute along Washington to Jefferson, to Chouteau, to 14th. Avoid the reroute and exit before Tucker. The 32 runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays.
  • 40 North Broadway connects Riverview to downtown, primarily along Broadway.  Like the 32 it reroutes along Washington from Broadway to Jefferson — avoid all that and get off at Broadway & Washington! The 40 runs every hour on Saturdays.
  • 41 Lee runs every 40 minutes between Riverview and downtown/Civic Center on streets like Thekla, Emerson, Lee, Kossuth, 20th, Carr. Like other bus routes, avoid the very long reroutes by exiting at 14th & Olive.
  • 74 Florissant runs every half hour connecting north county to downtown via West/North Florissant. Like others, exit at 14th & Olive to avoid the long reroute.

From West City:

  • 10 Gravois-Lindell was mentioned above on the South City section, but for those in midtown it’s a good option to get to Civic Center. It’ll reroute at Jefferson to Chouteau so either stay on the bus to Civic Center or exit at Olive & Jefferson and walk to the parade start at 18th & Market. Or take it WB to the CWE to catch the train downtown.
  • 94 Page runs every 40 minutes on Saturdays connecting Westport Plaza via Wellston to Civic Center. In the city it primarily uses Page, 18th, Market. Because of the parade it’ll reroute at 18th & Olive to Jefferson, Chouteau.  Either get off at 18th & Olive or continue to Civic Center.
  • 96 Market Street Shuttle runs every hour on Saturdays. This is an option for SLU/Harris Stowe students. It’ll reroute at Jefferson to Chouteau.
  • 97 Delmar connects Clayton to Civic Center via the Delmar/Loop MetroLink, running every 30 minutes on Saturdays. In the city it primarily uses Delmar, Compton (briefly) and Washington. Due to the parade it’ll reroute at Washington to Jefferson, to Chouteau.

The links above are to the regular map for each route, for a list of all MetroBus routes click here. Again, if you live in the city and plan to attend the parade please walk, bike, or use transit — bus and/or rail.  The cash fare each way is $2 — have $1 bills because you can’t get change on the bus. If you need to take more than one bus or bus plus rail you’ll need $3 each way for a transfer. For exact times, stop locations, etc use Google Maps, Apple Maps, the Transit App, or Metro’s Trip Planner.

Street parking isn’t free on Saturday, and lots will be charging a lot. Uber/Lyft will likely have surge pricing, plus will have to deal with lots of traffic. Take transit — light rail or MetroBus.

— Steve Patterson

 

Possible Development at Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink Station Will Include Lots of Parking

November 26, 2018 Featured, Planning & Design, Public Transit Comments Off on Possible Development at Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink Station Will Include Lots of Parking

After 25 years the Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink (light rail) station may finally be getting new higher-density development. From last week:

An Indianapolis developer plans to transform the block around the Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink station with a $70 million development adding 265 apartments and 34,000 square feet of retail.

The Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners on Friday voted to proceed with the project. The Bi-State-owned parking lot at the northwest corner of Forest Park Parkway and DeBaliviere Avenue along with the drop-off lot on the east side of DeBaliviere Avenue are targeted for new apartment and retail buildings.
The privately owned strip mall to the north of the Bi-State parking lot is also part of the project, slated for a four-story, 106-apartment building with 16,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
 
The Bi-State parking lot will be turned into a six-story building with 108 apartments and almost 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Metro’s drop-off lot across the street would become a five-story, 51-apartment building with 5,000 square feet of street-level retail. Plans also call for public art and streetscape improvements. (Post-Dispatch)

Over the last quarter century other developers have also talked about developing around the station. Maybe it’ll finally happen. Over the last few years we have seen high-end high-density housing filling in gaps along Pershing Ave, to the East of DeBaliviere. Yet, five houses West on De Giverville, facing the parking lot to be developed. are two houses in poor condition.

The house missing the roof is 5727 De Giverville.

Across from a light rail transit station for 25 years. Part of the problem with this area is a lack of retail/services — namely a grocery store:

5727 De Giverville Avenue has a Walk Score of 64 out of 100. This location is Somewhat Walkable so some errands can be accomplished on foot.

5727 De Giverville Avenue is a three minute walk from the MLB MetroLink Blue Line and the MLR MetroLink Red Line at the FOREST PARK METROLINK STATION stop. (WalkScore)

Hopefully the new development will substantially increase the WalkScore for this area.  Certainly couldn’t lower it!

Metro’s free park & ride lot was redone in 2006 when the Blue line was added. This structure is also from 2006. The houses on De Giverville can be seen in the background.
Full on weekdays, the free parking at the station is usually empty on the weekends
The old kiss & ride space on the East side of DeBaliviere will also be developed.

I’ve previously posted about how awful the strip retail building at DeGiverville & DeBaliviere is — especially need to a light rail station.

Low-density suburban style strip center isn’t an asset for the area, tenants include Metro’s Transit Access Center where Call-A-Ride operations are and where disabled riders. like myself, go to get a reduced=fare card. Very low volume.

Can’t wait to see that building demolished!

Hopefully a developer will snap up the former Talayna’s on the NE corner of DeBaliviere & Pershing.

While I’m happy a new developer is interested in this area, I’m not thrilled Metro will still have 100 parking spaces (per Wikipedia).  This just increases the cost of housing & commercial rents in the new development — meaning those of us on the low end of the income scale who use transit won’t be able to afford to live here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

Unable to display Facebook posts.
Show error

Error: (#10) To use 'Page Public Content Access', your use of this endpoint must be reviewed and approved by Facebook. To submit this 'Page Public Content Access' feature for review please read our documentation on reviewable features: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/review.
Type: OAuthException
Code: 10
Please refer to our Error Message Reference.

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe