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Metro’s Multi-Use Transfer

For many transit riders the bus transfer is an important piece of paper.  Until this year I didn’t know the why or how to use a transfer but I learned quickly.

ABOVE: A transfer from April 16, 2012

The current MetroBus adult fare is $2 and a “multi-use transfer” costs $1 more. Depending upon your trip it’s worth the extra buck. When you board a bus and pay $3 you get a transfer good for at least two hours. The driver tears off the transfer at the appropriate spot depending upon the current time.

ABOVE: Ride late enough and you’ll get a transfer good until service ends.

Here are some examples where the transfer comes in handy:

  1. Transferring to another bus to reach your destination.
  2. Transferring from bus to light rail to reach your destination.
  3. Return bus trip for a quick visit somewhere.
I’m back to buying a monthly pass now but I did all of the above over the winter months when I  was a cash rider. If you’re taking one bus to a place where you’ll be for three hours before leaving then a transfer doesn’t make sense. But if you’re going to the library to pick up a reserved item and you’ll be in/out within 30 minutes then the transfer will get you back home for $1 rather than $2.
There were times that I had bought a transfer and couldn’t use it, the next bus coming 10 minutes after my transfer expired.With experience I got better at figuring out when to buy a transfer and when no too.
If you start at MetroLink your time-stamped ticket also works like a transfer. When I was a cash rider I’d buy a stack of 2-hour tickets in advance from the MetroRide store at 7th & Washington Ave since I rarely carry cash, especially $1 bills. These don’t expire for months and are good for use on MetroLink and cover your fare & transfer on MetroBus. When I was going somewhere on MetroLink I’d often start my trip on the (#99 Downtown Trolley) because I’d get more time than I would just by stamping the 2-hour pass upon entering my starting station.

— Steve Patterson


MetroLink Moves Masses For Events

After the fireworks were over on the 4th many headed toward public transit, not a private vehicle. MetroLink light rail was packed with people going east & west from both sides of the river.

ABOVE: Crowds fill trains after fireworks on July 4th

Downtown couldn’t have handled all the cars if these people had driven, not enough parking and the streets would have been jammed for a long time. I can’t imagine not having our light rail lines to get people to & from major events.

— Steve Patterson


Downtown Trolley Debuted Two Years Ago Today, Sunday Service Added Last Month

ABOVE: Downtown Trolley at Broadway & Market with the Old Courthouse in background

The #99 MetroBus is also known as the “Downtown Trolley.” It’s not an actual trolley, just a standard short-length bus wrapped to vaguely resemble a trolley. From Metro’s website:

The #99 Downtown Trolley provides regular, all-day service throughout Downtown Saint Louis moving workers to jobs, visitors to cultural and sports venues, and everyone to the restaurants, retail, and service providers. The #99 Downtown Trolley route also recently expanded to serve downtown’s thriving residential developments, retail outlets, and cultural attractions along Washington Avenue. A reliable schedule, frequent trips, and quick connections to MetroLink and numerous MetroBus routes at the Civic Center Station make this route a practical option for traveling around Downtown Saint Louis.

The Downtown Trolley was introduced two years ago today and I’ve used it often in that time. Tourists use it as well to get from their hotel to different spots like City Museum and America’s Center. Conventional buses are intimidating to many but the cartoonish wrap, colorful signs for stops and simple route map put people at ease. The #99 Downtown Circulator bus that did a similar loop before the Downtown Trolley debuted didn’t have the same level of ridership.

Since many bus lines don’t go east of 14th Street many local transit riders have to take the #99 to reach their final destination. But when it began service it didn’t operate on Sundays, which presented challenges to locals and tourists in town on Sunday. Last month Sunday service was added.

— Steve Patterson


That Last Mile To A Light Rail Station

Recently I posted about the lack of transit oriented development (TOD) around the Wellston & Rock Road MetroLink light rail stations (see Let’s Build Around Light Rail).  Both stations have been open for 19 years now.

For both I made my observations from each station and seeing a lack of connection in various directions. Last week I found myself 9/10ths of a mile from the Wellston station so I got to experience the problems area residents face in reaching that particular station. Before I get into the problems I want to explain why I was nearly a mile from that station.

Walkability expert Dan Burden was in St. Louis for a few days last week. Thursday morning a group met at the MET Center near the Wellston station and did a “walking audit” of problems we observed.

ABOVE: Looking west from the MET Center toward the Wellston MetroLink station. Parking is a barrier between the entrance and the station.
ABOVE: Dan Burden of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, click image for more info

The next afternoon a group met at the University City Library on Delmar at Kingsland (map) to discuss safe routes to schools.  I’d arrived by MetroBus (#97).  After the presentation we walking north to the new Pershing school. Well, it was very hot so everyone else drove and I made my way the 8/10th of a mile to the school.

ABOVE: Dan Burden and the group start to form a human traffic circle at Bartmer Ave & Ferguson Ave, the SW corner of Pershing Elementary School. Click image for map.

It was over 100 degrees and when we finished here the sessions were over, we were all on our own. A bus route was close but the sidewalk to reach it was blocked by construction at the school. I decided to “walk” to the Wellston Station in my power chair.  I’m not sure when I left University City and entered Wellston.

ABOVE: Habitat is building new houses on Bartmer Ave. This is looking east at Kingsland Ave, one block east of Pershing School. The police car is from University City.
ABOVE: Looking east on Etzel Ave from 66th Street

The housing stock in Wellston appears older and not as nice even when new as the housing in nearby University City. Though modest, I didn’t feel unsafe in what many would consider a “bad area.”  I encountered no one, probably because of the excessive heat.  The  sidewalks were all complete and passable until I got out of the residential area and into the industrial area near the station. Sixty-sixth street only had fragments of sidewalks, I ended up in the roadway.

The last part of my trip would take me through Robert L. Powell Park.

ABOVE: The last part of the journey would take me through Powell Park

I’d seen the park on map before and got up to it back in April to see the sign facing Metro’s largely empty parking lot.

The park was dedicated to Wellston Mayor Powell in 1993. In 1998 Mayor Powell resigned after being sentenced to a year in jail for using tax dollars to fund his reelection campaign and celebration party. Click image for more info.

The park is appropriately named because it’s a disgrace.

ABOVE: Powell Park is a giant square of grass with zero improvements.
ABOVE: Over the last 19 years residents have worn a clear path across the open field…ur, park
ABOVE: I went as far as I could but the grade dropped off. I had to go west to get to a point where I could get onto Metro’s parking lot.
ABOVE: For 19 years people have been walking up/down this steep & dirty incline to reach transit.
ABOVE: After the shortcut through the park the residents still have to walk through a parking lot. Pedestrians shouldn’t have to walk through a parking lot, they’re among the least appealing places to walk.

Once I reached the station I didn’t catch the train, instead I got on the #94 (Page) MetroBus since that’d drop me off only a block from my loft. It’s clear to me that in the last two decades nobody has done anything to make it easier for Wellston residents to get to transit. What can/should be done?

  1. Replace sidewalks along 66th Street.
  2. Pave path through Powell Park, plant shade trees along path and have a few benches and a water fountain. Will require a ramp to navigate the grade change.
  3. Rename the park something besides a disgraced former mayor.
  4. Develop the parking lot, provide a nice sidewalk to reach the light rail platforms and bus stops.
I’m sure many of you can list numerous reasons why my list can’t/shouldn’t happen. I’m not interested. I’m interested in thoughts on how the type of connection that should have been built 19 years ago  can finally get done.

– Steve Patterson


Did You ‘Dump the Pump’ Today?

Did you take transit today? Today is National Dump the Pump Day:

On June 21, 2012, American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in partnership with The Sierra Club, The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and public transportation systems across the country will celebrate the 7th Annual National Dump the Pump Day.

In these tough economic times with high gas prices, everyone is looking for a way to save money. National Dump the Pump Day encourages people to ride public transportation (instead of driving) and save money.

Riding public transit is an economical way to save money, particularly when gas prices are high. The latest APTA Transit Savings Report shows that a two person household that downsizes to one car can save – on the average – about $10,000 a year.

It’s been over two months since I sold my car. While there have been a few times I missed the easy mobility the car offers I love the greater financial freedom I have now. We all make trade offs in life, I just decided more money in my pocket was more important to me than 24/7 mobility. I’m still mobile, just on Metro’s schedule.

Most likely you weren’t aware of Dump the Pump Day. Even if you were you’d cite a long list of reasons why transit won’t work for you, why you must have a car. Here are some of the reasons to use transit:

Quick Facts

  • In 2011, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation.
  • 35 million times each weekday, people board public transportation.
  • Public transportation is a $55 billion industry that employs more than 400,000 people.
  • More than 7,300 organizations provide public transportation in the United States.

Public Transportation Helps People Save Money

  • Using public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices.
  • According to APTA’s Transit Saving Report, a two-person household can save, on the average, more than $10,000 a year by downsizing to one car.
  • Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving.

Public Transportation Provides Economic Opportunities

  • Every $1 billion invested in public transportation creates and supports 36,000 jobs.
  • Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.
  • Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $30 million in increased business sales.
  • Every $10 million in operating investment yields $32 million in increased business sales.

Public Transportation Saves Fuel and Reduces Congestion

  • Public transportation has a proven record of reducing congestion.
  • The latest research shows that in 2010, U.S. public transportation use saved 796 million hours in travel time and 303 million gallons of fuel in 439 urban areas.
  • Without public transportation, congestion costs in 2010 would have risen by nearly $17 billion from $101 billion to $118 billion.

Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption

  • Public transportation use in the United States saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.
  • Households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles than households with no access to public transit.

Public Transportation Reduces Carbon Footprint

  • Public transportation use in the United States reduces our nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. This is equivalent to the emissions resulting from the electricity generated for the use of 4.9 million households or every household in Washington, DC; New York City; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined.
  • One person with a 20-mile round trip commute who switches from driving to public transit can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds, or more than 4,800 pounds in a year.
  • A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car.

Public Transportation Enhances Personal Opportunities

  • Public transportation provides personal mobility and freedom for people from every walk of life.
  • Access to public transportation gives people transportation options to commute to work, go to school, visit friends, or travel to a doctor’s office.
  • Public transportation provides access to job opportunities for millions of Americans.
  • 83 percent of older Americans acknowledge public transit provides easy access to things they need in everyday life.

All the above reasons are valid, but it’s the cost savings that did it for me personally. I’m single but for many couples going from two cars to one gives them savings without giving up mobility.

– Steve Patterson