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Saint Louis University Law School Shuttle

One reason for trying to build the St. Louis Streetcar is to reduce the number of polluting buses on the streets, in particular, from shuttles for the new Saint Louis University School of Law (my review of the building). The law school is open and the diesel-powered shuttles are very visible.

Shuttle in front of Scott Hall
Shuttle in front of Scott Hall
Shuttle on Locust at 9th, near Culinaria
Shuttle idling on Locust at 9th, near Culinaria

Here’s a quick summary of the route:

Scott Hall Shuttle You can access Scott Hall from the main university and designated law school parking via a new shuttle. Hours and information can be found here. The shuttle will connect Scott Hall to the main University campus, Salus Center and the law school parking at Schnucks Culnaria and 1215 Olive St. surface lot. The final shuttle runs from Scott Hall at 10:10 p.m. with drop-offs at Culinaria, the 1215 parking lot and finally at Busch Student Center. (source)

And here’s visuals:

Scott Hall Shuttle route map on SLU website
Scott Hall Shuttle route map on SLU website
Close up of the route in the central business district
Close up of the route in the central business district

Seems excessive too me, especially when they sit and idle, spewing diesel fumes. Guess law students won’t mix with the general public with such an elaborate shuttle system at their disposal. Presumably, though, amy SLU faculty, staff, or student, can ride it.

— Steve Patterson

 

Now You Can Check Estimated MetroBus Arrival Times

September 26, 2013 Featured, Public Transit 10 Comments

There’s nothing worse than wondering if your bus is on time or running behind. Now we can check to see!

Here’s a recent Metro press release:

Metro transit customers asked for newer technology to help them track MetroBus arrival times and now it is here. When Proposition A passed, Metro promised to use those funds to build a better transit experience. The first phase of technology advances to keep MetroBus customers better informed about bus stop arrivals is now available on www.metrostlouis.org.

“We are really excited to be able to bring this new technology to our customers, but we won’t stop there,” said Ray Friem, Metro Chief Operating Officer Transit. “In the next year, we hope to roll out the cell phone application. That will mean you can stand at your bus stop, punch in the stop number on your smart phone and find out when to expect your bus.”

Here’s how the new online technology works. Go to the Metro website, look for the Plan Your Trip area near the top right of the screen and select Metro Trip Planner. Then there are two choices.
1. Use the left side of the screen to use trip planner the way you always have, or
2. Use the map to click on your departure location. A box will appear and allow you to click on “Find nearby stops.” From there you can:

• Click on the yellow or blue circle where you want to catch the bus. Yellow circles show “time points.” Operators do not leave early from a time point. The blue circle shows a regular bus stop. Please remember to arrive at your stop at least five minutes early. Depending on traffic conditions, a bus may arrive and leave early from a bus stop that is not a time point. After you have selected your preferred stop:
• Click on “Get next departures.” Included in the information box is the route, the direction (Dir), scheduled arrival time (Sch) and estimated arrival time (Est) if the estimated arrival time is available.
• The majority of our MetroBus vehicles are now equipped with automatic vehicle location devices (AVL) and that allows us to track where the buses are at all times. Eventually, AVLs will be installed on every vehicle in our MetroBus fleet. If the MetroBus vehicle that is headed to your stop is AVL equipped, the Estimated Arrival column will show a time. When you compare Scheduled Time (Sch) to the Estimated time (Est) you will know if the bus is running early, on time or behind schedule.
• If the MetroBus does not yet have AVL, then the Estimated Arrival column will display ‘NA’ for “not available.”
Customers who need assistance planning their trips, may call 314-231-2345 in Missouri or 618-271-2345 in Illinois Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

The site is easy to use at home/work on a computer, laptop, or tablet. No mobile optimized site or app yet.

Example of scheduled versus estimated times, click image for Metro's Trip Planner
Example of scheduled versus estimated times, click image for Metro’s Trip Planner

It is easiest to look up times based on a bus stop number, so I’ve made note of the stop numbers near me at 16th @ Olive:

  • Eastbound (South): #15146
  • Westbound (North): #2605

To go west on the #10 I want Metro’s northbound route. Sounds confusing but it makes sense when you look at the route map. I still need to look up a few others on Washington and on 14th.

Eventually Metro will have the technology in place to show time until the next few buses, like this example from Chicago.
Eventually Metro will have the technology in place to show time until the next few buses, like this example from Chicago.

Once the information is available at shelters I’ll be really excited. I’m very glad Metro is making progress.

— 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

 

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

 

Observations On Public Transit

September 14, 2013 Featured, Public Transit 27 Comments

In the past few weeks I’ve gotten a couple of 20-somethings to ride the bus system here. Both had ridden MetroLink light rail, but not MetroBus.

The #11 (Chippewa) MetroBus on 14th next to Peabody
The #11 (Chippewa) MetroBus on 14th St next to Peabody Opera House, 8:24pm

Here are some observations, in no particular order, about transit:

  1. People who say they’d ride their local transit system if it didn’t suck have probably never ridden it enough (ever?) to understand how to use it. Dissing your local transit service is an accepted narrative.
  2. Americans visit Europe and marvel at their efficient public transit and walkable cities, yet resume driving everywhere upon return.
  3. A first time transit rider is more intimidated by bus  than light rail/streetcar.
  4. Related, people willingly try rail (light rail or streetcar), but not bus.
  5. People compare bus vs car travel time, often concluding the bus takes too long. I say I can’t do enough email, social media, or casual reading while driving.
  6. Transit naysayers are the same people who drive to the gym, circling the parking lot for a spot near the door.

These are my personal observations, they’re neither right or wrong.

— Steve Patterson

 

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