Temporarily Going From Four Posts Per Week To Infrequent Posts

 

 When I first announced last Halloween that I had stage 4 kidney cancer I said I hoped to continue blogging — keeping up my four posts per week schedule  November though February was manageable. March 2020 has been difficult. My last treatment was March 2nd. Since then my appetite has …

A Trip To The Nearest Park

 

 On Wednesday I went outside, the temperature was nice and I’d been in our apartment for three full weeks — 21 days! I was going stir-crazy. I decided that rather than just walk a few feet outdoors I’d take my power wheelchair to the closest public park. On the way …

Readers: Local Stay at Home Orders Are Good Public Policy

 

 Missouri, like most backwards states, didn’t issue a statewide stay at home order. That meant Kansas City, St. Louis City, and St. Louis County had to act on their own. In a matter of days, millions of Americans have been asked to do what might have been unthinkable only a …

A Difficult Three Weeks, But We Have Toilet Paper

 

 My most recent immunotherapy treatment was three weeks ago. Since then I’ve been especially tired and have had almost no appetite. Normally I’d be baking bread, making dinners from scratch, etc. I’d been eating so well I gained 5lbs my last visit. I’ll lose wait again my next treatment day, …

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

New Book — ‘When The Blues Go Marching In: An Illustrated Timeline of St. Louis Blues Hockey’ (Championship Edition) by Dan O’Neil

October 14, 2019 Books, Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on New Book — ‘When The Blues Go Marching In: An Illustrated Timeline of St. Louis Blues Hockey’ (Championship Edition) by Dan O’Neil
 

Regular readers know I’m not a sports fan, but I can get caught up in the moment when a St. Louis team is close to winning a championship. When the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup one of my first thoughts was wondering when I’d see a Blues hockey book.

The answer was last Friday — that’s when I received a review copy of  ‘When The Blues Go Marching In: An Illustrated Timeline of St. Louis Blues Hockey’ (Championship Edition) by Dan O’Neil.

When I finished the first edition of this book, the Blues had gone 50 seasons without capturing the NHL’s ultimate prize. Then came their 51st season, unprecedented and improbable. Nineteen inconsistent games into the 2018-19 schedule, the Blues made a coaching change. Thirty-seven games in, they possessed the fewest points in the 31-team league. Playoffs were a pipe dream, and the Stanley Cup seemed more distant than ever. But steadied by an interim coach, lifted by a rookie goaltender, and sparked by a record winning streak, a storybook unfolded. And with it came a mandate to revisit this volume, to account for the most remarkable episode of all—the rags-to-riches tale of a Stanley Cup championship. (Reedy Press)

This is a new edition of a prior book. It’s entirely chronological starting  with the 1967 expansion of the National Hockey League (NHL) and concluding with the Stanley Cup win. In between these are important dates and the story behind that date — changes to players, coaches, and owners; memorable plays, etc.

There are some upcoming events that you might find of interest:

  • Presentation and Book Signing:

Wednesday, October 30; 7pm-8pm
Grant’s View Branch of the St. Louis County Library
9700 Musick Ave
St. Louis, MO 63123

  • Book Signing

Friday, November 8; 5pm to 8pm
Blend Salon and Spa
7401 Manchester Ave, Suite 200
Maplewood, MO 63143

If you’re a Blues hockey fan this is the book for you.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis City & County Help The Loop Trolley Co.?

October 13, 2019 Featured, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis City & County Help The Loop Trolley Co.?
 
Please vote below

The Loop Trolley, a short tourist ride featuring historic trolley cars, hasn’t met projected ridership numbers, causing budget problems. They’re asking for financial help.

The struggling Loop Trolley Co. is facing insolvency if it can’t come up with $200,000 by November and another $500,000 to operate into next year, its president said Saturday.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page told the County Council in a letter on Friday that the trolley company asked the county for the funding after the city of St. Louis refused to provide it.

The trolley will also reduce service starting Thursday to help make up for budget shortfalls, John S. Meyer Jr., the trolley board president, said in an email on Saturday. (Post-Dispatch)

Today’s poll is about this topic.

This poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight. Results and my thoughts Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 18 of 2019-2020 Session

October 11, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 18 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 18th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 17.

Today’s agenda includes three (3) new bills.

  • B.B. #124 – NOT USED THIS SESSION
  • B.B. #125 – Moore – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the Evans Ave./N. Newstead Ave./Pendleton Ave. Scattered Sites Redevelopment Area
  • B.B. #126- Roddy – An ordinance to submit a 2020 Annual Action Plan to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) as required to apply for funding under the Community Development Block Grant (“CDBG”), HOME Investment Partnership (“HOME”), Emergency Solutions Grant (“ESG”) and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (“HOPWA”) Entitlement Programs, authorizing and directing the Mayor and the Comptroller on behalf of the City of St. Louis to enter into and execute agreements with HUD for the receipt of 2020 CDBG, HOME, ESG and HOPWA funds.
  • B.B. #127-Clark-Hubbard – An ordinance amending the Redevelopment Plan for the West End Redevelopment Area (“Area”) approved by Ordinance # 64392 dated June 25, 1998 (Exhibit 1 attached) by adding the implementation schedule now calling for projects to be completed by May 1, 2029.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session.

— Steve Patterson

Most Don’t Yet Have A REAL ID

October 9, 2019 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Most Don’t Yet Have A REAL ID
 

Missouri only began issuing the new REAL ID earlier this year, so it’s no surprise most still don’t have one yet.

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

Do you have a new ‘REAL ID’?

  • No: 19 [65.52%]
  • Yes: 8 [27.59%]
  • Unsure: 2 [6.9%]

My husband had to renew his driver’s license in July so at that time we got the additional documents together so he could get a REAL ID instead of a regular license. The cost was the same.

My license is up for renewal in February 2020, I’ll get a REAL ID at that time. It’s been five years since either of us has flown, but we do hope to fly somewhere in 2020. After October 1, 2020 anyone hoping to fly domestically will need either a state-issued REAL ID or a passport.

Here’s summary of the legislative history of the REAL ID Act:

The Real ID Act started off as H.R. 418, which passed the House in 2005 and went stagnant. Representative James Sensenbrenner (R) of Wisconsin, the author of the original Real ID Act, then attached it as a rider on a military spending bill, H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005. The House of Representatives passed that spending bill with the Real ID rider 368–58, and the Senate passed the joint House–Senate conference report on that bill 100–0. President Bush signed it into law on May 11, 2005. (Wikipedia)

Click the link about to see more detail, including links to the votes. Several votes I checked indicated Representative Clay (D) voted “no” each time. Democratic efforts to repeal the law failed.

All REAL IDs have a star in the upper right corner.

People mentioned costs, especially if their current ID has a few years left before expiring. So say your license or state ID is valid through say May 2022 — the fee will be waived so you can get a REAL ID before October 1, 2020.

What is the cost of obtaining a REAL ID-compliant driver license or nondriver ID card?

Transaction and processing fees for new and renewal applications will be the same as they are currently.

Click here for detailed fee information. You may also apply for an early duplicate license or ID card outside of your regular renewal period (which is six months prior to the expiration of your license or ID card).

Missouri law allows for a one-time waiver of the duplicate transaction fee for persons who have not been issued a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card. License office processing fees, however, will not be waived and are $6 (three-year issuance) or $12 (six-year issuance). Personal information may be changed as part of a duplicate one-time waiver transaction, but if you are applying for a different class of licensure or to add any endorsements or restrictions, the one-time waiver will not apply. (Missouri REAL ID page)

Illinois’ REAL ID page is here. If you want to fly, or enter secure federal facilities, then you need a REAL ID before October 1, 2020.

— Steve Patterson

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