Home » Public Transit » Recent Articles:

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

 

Chesterfield Valley May Add Shelters At Inaccessible MetroBus Stops

June 9, 2014 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Public Transit, Retail, St. Louis County, THF Realty Watch, Walkability Comments Off on Chesterfield Valley May Add Shelters At Inaccessible MetroBus Stops

I applaud Chesterfield’s continued support of pubic transportation. Last week I read about more potentially good news:

Chesterfield’s City Council on Monday night gave initial approval an cooperation agreement between the city, Metro, and the Chesterfield Valley Transportation Development District for of bus stop shelters in Chesterfield valley and in other areas of the city in which there are Metro bus routes. A final vote on the legislation is set for June 16. (stltoday)

Bus shelters are an improvement, but what about getting to/from the shelters?

One of five MetroBus stops along Chesterfield Airport Rd serving retail in the Chesterfield Valley, just a sign on the shoulder
One of five MetroBus stops along Chesterfield Airport Rd serving retail in the Chesterfield Valley, just a sign on the shoulder (below highway 40 sign). Click image for map.
The other side of the same stop shows the grass that must be crossed to/from the stop. A sidewalk exists at this spot but not all stops have a sidewalk nearby.
The other side of the same stop shows the grass that must be crossed to/from the stop. A sidewalk exists at this spot but not all stops have a sidewalk nearby.

I took these images in October when I checked out the area in a rental car. My conclusion was Chesterfield Valley is an ADA nightmare, taking MetroBus to shop wouldn’t be possible in a wheelchair. Given that everything was built since the big flood of 1993, it should be ADA-compliant.  I checked Chesterfield’s ADA Transition Plan, there’s no mention of their responsibility in the public right-of-way.

I’d love to meet former Chesterfield Mayor & Metro President John Nations and current mayor Bob Nation at one of these MetroBus stops to have them see the challenges the transit-using public, including the able-bodied, face in navigating this area on foot.

— Steve Patterson

 

Civic Center Transit Center Sans Trees, Awaiting Redo

In late March the Civic Center Transit Center, serving MetroBus and MetroLink, got a visually shocking change: all the trees were cut down. Take a look:

In October 2011 many brown areas could be spotted on the evergreen trees
In October 2011 many brown areas could be spotted on the “evergreen” trees
Aerial from Apple Maps, click image to view location in Google Maps
Aerial from Apple Maps, click image to view location in Google Maps
In March 2014 all the frees were cut down
In March 2014 all the trees were cut down
Looking north toward the Scottrade Center at 14th & Clark
Looking north toward the Scottrade Center at 14th & Clark, noticed the bare dirt
For years transit riders wore paths going from bus & light rail
For years transit riders wore paths going from bus & light rail in a more direct pattern than the paved routes provided
The official route from 14th to the MetroLink platform involves steps or two switchback ramps
The official route from 14th to the MetroLink platform involves steps or two switchback ramps
Back up at Clark we have an useless plaza
Back up at Clark we have an useless plaza
The plaza to MetroLink connection is direct. October 2011 photo
The plaza to MetroLink connection is direct. October 2011 photo before the trees on the left were cut down
Numerous bus lines stop on 14th street, the sidewalk  gets very crowded during busy times
Numerous bus lines stop on 14th street, the sidewalk gets very crowded during busy times
The ramps/crosswalk to the main MetroBus area is too narrow during peak times each day
The ramps/crosswalk to the main MetroBus area is too narrow during peak times each day
A portable trailer has sat here for years
A tacky trailer on blocks has sat here for years
Looking south toward the double-loaded aisle
Looking south toward the double-loaded aisle
The #99 Downtown Trolley parks on 14th because no room exists in the center. The able-bodied can easily make the walk across the curbs but the rest of us have to return to near Spruce St to get where we can cross
The #99 Downtown Trolley parks on 14th because no room exists in the center. The able-bodied can easily make the walk across the curbs but the rest of us have to return to near Spruce St to get where we can cross

The reason the trees were cut down was to clear the site for the construction of a larger MetroBus area, so more can pull into the center rather than stay on 14th. Metro has talked about this for a number of years, but the process is moving forward now.  On Monday I inquired with Metro about plans, yesterday they posted information on their blog, see Metro Moves Forward With New Transit Projects, and sent me the text that will appear on the project page shortly:

Civic Center Transit Center Expansion

The Civic Center Transit Center is one of Metro’s busiest transit hubs and it presently lacks the space needed to adequately serve the number of MetroBus routes converging at this location. The location at 14th and Spruce Streets in Downtown St. Louis is served by MetroLink, 18 MetroBus routes and Metro Call-A-Ride service.

Metro secured federal funding to redesign the Civic Center Transit Center to more effectively accommodate more buses and to provide greater customer safety, convenience and comfort.

The expansion will include:

  • 18 MetroBus bays
  • 2 Call-A-Ride bays
  • Space for 60-foot articulated buses
  • Construction of a new building with
    • An indoor, climate-controlled waiting area
    • Public restrooms
    • Digital messaging boards
    • A security sub-station
    • Concessions

The design contract for the project was awarded to Arcturis Inc. on October 2013. The project is scheduled to be completed by next fall with construction expected to begin late summer or fall 2014.

To redesign the property for the expansion, it was necessary to cut down the bald cypress and oak trees. The trees were removed prior to April 1 so as not to affect migratory birds. Metro will plant the same number of trees at another location or make a donation to a local forestry project.

Here’s the proposed site plan:

Click image to view larger version on Scribd
Click image to view larger version on Scribd

This changes the flow for buses and pedestrians, after I’ve had a chance to absorb the proposed design I’ll share my thoughts in a separate post.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe