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Downtown Trolley Route To Reach Union Station, Downtown’s Pedestrian Wayfinding Information Outdated

On Monday I posted about how the downtown trolley route hadn’t changed in its first four years of service, the only significant change being the addition of one stop. After my post I learned, not via any reply to my emails, that the trolley route will be changing — it’ll connect with Union Station. This is due for a couple of reasons. First, the upcoming Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center expansion project and the new owners of Union Station want to be connected to the rest of downtown and the trolley is popular with local tourists.

Started on July 1, 2010, the trolley route hasn't changed except the addition of one stop on Spruce at 14th.
Started on July 1, 2010, the trolley route hasn’t changed except the addition of one stop on Spruce at 14th. Union Station is just outside this view to the left of the Scottrade Center.

How the trolley will get to Union Station is still unknown, as is how it’ll make its way back east. My guess is a loop that includes Clark, 18th, Market and 14th. This could also include stops at the Peabody Opera House and Scottrade Center.

The CVC's downtown pedestrian directories
The CVC’s downtown pedestrian directories

Besides not showing the downtown trolley,  the information shown on the downtown wayfinding is already out of date:

  • Macy’s is shown, it closed in August 2013.
  • Ballpark Village isn’t listed, it opened earlier this year.
  • Numerous hotels have closed or changed names
I'd think the Cardinals & Cordish would want Ballpark Village listed as a downtown attraction
I’d think the Cardinals & Cordish would want Ballpark Village listed as a downtown attraction
The list of hotels has several obsolete listings
The list of hotels has several obsolete listings

Of course it is impossible for the pedestrian wayfinding to remain 100% current all the time, I’m curious how often the CVC plans to update.  It’s clearly not every year.  Hopefully not more than ever two years.   Sadly, the CVC’s website still shows an active listing for the Roberts Mayfair, closed for months and reopening next month as the Magnolia Hotel.

Screenshot of the closed Mayfair Hotel on the CVC website. Retrieved July 8th
Screenshot of the closed Mayfair Hotel on the CVC website. Retrieved July 8th

Hopefully they’ll get these wayfinding directories updated once the Downtown Trolley is extended to Union Station.

— Steve Patterson

 

Triangle Park Plaza Is Useless Public Space, In Poor Condition

In May I posted about the upcoming Civic Center MetroBus center revisions, see: Civic Center Transit Center Sans Trees, Awaiting Redo. Since then Metro held two open houses on the same day, presenting the design as I showed previously.

Sign announcing expansion project
Sign announcing expansion project
Click image to view larger version on Scribd
Click image to view larger version on Scribd

My main criticism remains the useless plaza at the clark, right above. The “Triangle Park Plaza” is lifeless and in very poor condition. I think the plaza needs to be replaced with one or two small kiosk/buildings with outdoor seating. I understand these aren’t in Metro’s current budget, I’m sure fixing the plaza isn’t either.  Let’s take a look:

Looking east toward the plaza
Looking east toward the plaza, in 1993 the metal boxes were light/steam sculptures but the haven’t been on in years
The material used for the narrow decretive strips has failed
The material used for the narrow decretive strips has failed
It looks very bad, unkept
It looks very bad, unkept
This creates a hazard for pedestrians
This creates a hazard for pedestrians
It has failed throughout the plaza, plus the Jersey barriers along Clark are tacky!
It has failed throughout the plaza, plus the Jersey barriers along Clark are tacky!
All the paving has settled, creating trip hazards that exceed ADA maximums
All the paving has settled, creating trip hazards that exceed ADA maximums
Another issue is the settling creates places were water pools. This looks bad and creates places for mosquitoes to breed.
Another issue is the settling creates places were water pools. This looks bad and creates places for mosquitoes to breed when wet.
More areas where water has collected in the past
More areas where water has collected in the past
The ramp at 14th & Clark isn't directional for crossing Clark, also too narrow. The paving here creates a serious trip hazard.
The ramp at 14th & Clark isn’t directional for crossing Clark, also too narrow. The paving here creates a serious trip hazard.

The “Triangle Park Plaza” is low-quality left over space, a negative rather than a positive. Clark has an increasing number of pedestrians.  This is a good opportunity to build something to hold the corner. Ok, the budget doesn’t include anything here — I get that. But, plan ahead so when when work is done on the bus transit area you don’t prevent something better for the plaza space.

Apply for grants, work with local non-profits on incubator space, try something to find the money to redo this space so it’s a positive.

— Steve Patterson

 

Only Change To Downtown Trolley Route Addition Of One Stop, Online Marketing Materials Inaccurate

The brightly colored Downtown Trolley MetroBus debuted four years ago. In the last four years service was expanded to seven days a week, it originally didn’t include Sunday. More recently the original buses used were replaced with new low-floor buses.

The original Downtown Trolley used a short bus with steps & wheelchair lift.  Photo by Jim Merkel, Suburban Journals
I’m exiting the original Downtown Trolley after the initial ride on July 1, 2010. Photo by Jim Merkel, Suburban Journals.

Last September I complained the new pedestrian wayfinding downtown lacked any reference to the Downtown Trolley (See: Downtown Trolley Ignored By Metro, CVC, & Downtown Community Improvement District). I expected the official response to be something like ‘Oh you’re right, we totally overlooked the Trolley.’

The CVC's downtown pedestrian directories don't show the trolley route or stops.
The CVC’s downtown pedestrian directories don’t show the trolley route or stops.

Instead the official responses were “it’s a moving target”, meaning they don’t want to print the route & stops on directories because that would require reprinting all as changes are made. I fully agree that we don’t want to present obsolete information to downtown visitors. While most MetroBus routes change often, the Downtown Trolley route hasn’t changed at all in the last four years.

For 3+ years the route & stops haven't changed. Well, except the stop shown at 15th & Washington is actually 14th & Washington
The route used is exactly the same as it was on July 1, 2010. One stop moved a block in the first week, another was added later.

In fact, in the last four years, only one stop moved and one was added. The one stop that moved from one block to the next likely just had the sign installed at the wrong spot.

Worker installing the special trolley stop sign on Washington Ave, just west of 15th, on June 30, 2010 @ 6:30pm.
Worker installing the special trolley stop sign on Washington Ave, just west of 15th, on June 30, 2010 @ 6:30pm.
The next day I took this pic of the signs.
The next day I took this pic of the signs.

Within a week after the Downtown Trolley began service these signs were moved to the next block east. As the colorful map shows, the stop was intended to be between 14th & 15th, not 15th & 16th. So not really a moved stop, more a correction on the placement of the sign. In the last four years other stops may have been moved to another post within the same block, but no other has moved to a completely different block. The only route change I’ve found is the addition of a stop on eastbound Clark just east of 14th.

Added trolley stop on Clark
Added trolley stop on Clark
Ironically the route map on the sign at this stop doesn't even show the stop! Really?
Ironically the route map on the sign at this stop doesn’t even show the stop! Really?

I expect the pedestrian wayfinding throughout downtown to show the trolley but the three partners can’t even get the signs at the stops correct. It gets worse, the trolley page at the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis still lists the original press release from four years ago, including:

The new downtown trolley service will operate from 5:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to midnight on Saturday. Service will reach each stop every 10 minutes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, and every 20 minutes the rest of the time.

So? Remember, the service was expanded to include Sunday service. You’d never know it from their website! In fact, the colorful graphic with the route map also shows the days and hours without Sunday — not updated since July 2010. Because they’ll very likely finally update the page after this post, you can read a PDF version from last night to show how out of date it is. The graphic is here.

The “moving target” line was complete and total BS, the CVC & Partnership seem to be deliberately sabotaging the Downtown Trolley.  As a taxpayer into the special downtown community improvement district I’m highly displeased. I’m going do a new round of emails hoping to get action on adding the downtown trolley to the next printing of the pedestrian wayfinding as well as current and consistent marketing materials.

— Steve Patterson

 

Fare Increase Starts Today

MetroLink at the Stadium Station
MetroLink at the Stadium Station

Metro’s new fares begin today:

The option most favored by the public was Option 2 which will raise the prices of the MetroLink one-ride fare, as well as the weekly, monthly, and university semester passes. The cost of the one-ride MetroLink fare will increase from $2.25 to $2.50. Weekly passes will increase from $25 to $27; monthly passes from $72 to $78; and the semester pass will go from $150 to $175.

The fare increase will not impact the $2 base MetroBus fare and the 2-Hour Pass/Transfer will remain at $3.00. The cost of the $7.50 Day Pass will not change nor will the current $4.00 Metro Call-A-Ride fare. (Metro)

The 2-hour pass is the same as a transfer, used on MetroBus or MetroLink light rail. This $3 pass/transfer allows riders who want to ride any combination of bus or rail, in any direction, within a 2-hour window, to do so for little more than the base fare. Those who don’t need more than a single ride in two hours can pay the one ride fare ($2 bus, $2.50 light rail).  I can imagine some weekly/monthly pass holders going to one ride or 2-hour passes, they’ll need to do the math to determine the most cost effective way for them to use Metro. I don’t use the system enough to justify a monthly pass.

One system similar in size to Metro is Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Their fares start at $2.25 for “Bus/Rapid/BRT” and are $2.50 for their “Park-N-Ride Bus.”   For transfers I looked at their FAQ:

Transfer Privileges are included in all RTA fare media: the All-Day Pass, 7-Day Flex Pass or Monthly Pass, and 5-trip farecards. RTA riders paying cash no longer receive transfers and should consider purchasing farecards or passes.

Interesting, if you buy 5 tickets in advance they each cost the same as one but include a transfer. I looked at 6-8 other systems and each has a unique way of handling the question of transfers. Some make everyone pay for a transfer but market it as being “free.” I like the option of just paying the base fare for most trips, upgrading to a 2-hour pass/transfer when I need to.

— Steve Patterson

 

Articulated Buses Now Operating On #70 MetroBus Route

Yesterday Metro began operating rebuilt buses they recently purchased:

For the first time in more than 20 years, a new kind of Metro public transit vehicle will be put into service in St. Louis. Beginning Monday, June 9, 60-foot articulated buses that pivot or bend in the middle will serve the #70 Grand Line, which is the region’s busiest bus route. These rebuilt buses are the most cost effective way to ease overcrowding by adding more passenger capacity. (Metro via email)

Metro allowed the media to take a peak at the first of these articulated buses back in March. In a poll in April readers were supportive on Metro’s decision to buy rebuilt equipment, see Readers: Metro’s Decision to Buy 15 Reconditioned Articulated Buses Green & Frugal

Metro 15 articulated buses,
The first of 15 articulated buses was shown on March 21, 2014
Interior of the rebuilt bus looks like a brand-new bus.
Interior of the rebuilt bus looks like a brand-new bus. March 2014

I didn’t get to Grand yesterday to ride one, but I hope to soon. In the past I avoided the #70 (Grand) route because it was always so crowded. Note that not all buses on the #70 are articulated, once all 15 are delivered to Metro then all on Grand will be articulated.

Any of you ride or see these yesterday? Initial thoughts?

— Steve Patterson

 

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