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, …

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St. Louis’ MLS Stadium Will Be Built On Site I Proposed In February 2016

October 7, 2019 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Popular Culture Comments Off on St. Louis’ MLS Stadium Will Be Built On Site I Proposed In February 2016
 

In 2015 St. Louis officials were proposing razing historic buildings/districts in the North Riverfront area, between Laclede’s Landing and the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, to build a new NFL stadium to keep the Rams in St. Louis.  It never happened, in early January 2016 the Rams officially applied to relocate to Los Angeles.

The next month it was announced a group had formed to attempt to get a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in St. Louis — they were scouting for sites. I’d opposed the North Riverfront as a site for an NFL stadium, I also felt it wasn’t the best site for a smaller MLS stadium.

I weighed in:

The site they shouldn’t consider is the North riverfront one previously targeted for a significantly larger NFL stadium — we shouldn’t tear down buildings when we have vacant land available. We have land, mostly state owned, without any buildings and a target for redevelopment for years already. I’m talking about the 22nd Street Interchange area — an area on the West side of downtown I’ve written about numerous times over the 11+ years.

In that February 8, 2016 post I imagined fitting a stadium in between Pine, 20th, Market, and the hotel to the west. Busch Stadium fits in a space 2 blocks x 3 blocks, so a MLS stadium with less seating should fit in a smaller footprint. I emailed my post to a contact at St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC)

Looking West from the Pear Tree Inn at 2211 Market in February 2016.

That first group proposed a stadium in the 22nd Street Interchange area, but south of Market Street, not north. I don’t know if they were already looking at this location prior to my post & email, but the entire year before development officials were so focused on the North riverfront I can’t help but think they wanted to stick with what they knew and had so much time invested in.

When the state & city residents opposed public funding a of soccer stadium the ownership group was out.  When the current ownership group entered the picture in October 2018 they’d privately finance a stadium in the 22nd Street Interchange area many, including myself, assumed it’d also locate south of Market St.  In April 2019 they showed some renderings, but no site plan. Again, many of us assumed the larger area south of Market St.

I can now guess this view is looking east. The parking garage roof seen at the bottom is the existing Pear Tree Inn garage. Pine, to the left of the garage, would not go through from 20th to the new 22nd Street

We were wrong, it will be the area I’d proposed in February 2016! However, instead of stopping at Pine the site will go one more block north to Olive. A few buildings would be razed, businesses are already being forced to relocate on short notice.

The tenants of these buildings on Olive have been told to vacate. May 2013 photo
On the sidewalk in front of the buildings that’ll likely be razed. I’ve been a fan of the 2-story buff brick building for years. May 2013 photo.

I reviewed the ownership records for these and the remaining buildings to the west, none showed a recorded change of ownership — yet. I don’t like seeing businesses and/or residents forced to move. Hopefully they’ll be offered a financial package to compensate for their time, trouble, and loss of business.

I’m also not a fan of closing streets, though Pine has been an awful one-way street for decades. Hopefully the one-way couplet (opposite directions) of Chestnut & Pine will both be returned to two-way traffic as a result of the existing on/off ramps going away.

I still want to see an official proposed site plan. Despite holes from parking lots, Olive has clung to a urban feel with multi-story buildings on both sides. I also wonder if we’ll see a revised I-64 on/off ramp that ends at Market Street — I’d be disappointed, but not surprised.  Even if that happens, a lot less land could be devoted to highway on/off so the area would support additional development and tax revenue.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Do You Have A ‘REAL ID’?

October 6, 2019 Featured, Sunday Poll, Travel Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Do You Have A ‘REAL ID’?
 
Please vote below

In 2005 congress passed the REAL ID Act, but adoption has been slow. Missouri just began issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses this year. Three states (New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Oregon) still aren’t compliant.

What’s the big deal?

On October 1, 2020, travelers will need a “REAL ID-compliant” driver’s license, US passport, US military ID or other accepted identification to fly within the United States.

The REAL ID Act established minimum security standards for the issuing of state licenses and their production.
It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses from states not meeting those minimum standards for certain activities. That includes boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, entering nuclear power plants and entering federal facilities.

To get a REAL ID-compliant state driver’s license, the US Department of Homeland Security requires applicants provide documentation showing their full legal name, their date of birth, their Social Security Number, two proofs of address of principal residence and lawful status. (States may impose more requirements.) (CNN)

The REAL ID Act faced widespread opposition from numerous groups, states.  The final deadline is now less than a year away. If you have a passport, however, you can fly after October 1, 2020 without a REAL ID.

Today’s poll is very straightforward:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. Wednesday morning I’ll share how you can tell if your license/ID is REAL ID-compliant or not.  Can’t wait?

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 17 of 2019-2020 Session

October 4, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 17 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 17th 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 16.

Today’s agenda includes six (6) new bills. Two are interesting, potentially controversial — one regarding criminal history of job applicants (120). The other regarding residency requirements for city employees (121).

  • B.B. #118 – Roddy – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for the 3974 Sarpy Ave. Area
  • B.B. #119 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports and the Comptroller of the City of St. Louis (the “City”) to enter into and execute on behalf of the City, seven (7) First Amended On-Airport Passenger Vehicle Rental (“PVR”) Concession Agreements (the “First Amendments”) at St. Louis Lambert International Airport® (the “Airport”) containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B. #120- Muhammad – An ordinance prohibiting employers in the City of St. Louis from basing job hiring or promotion decisions on an applicant’s criminal history, unless the employer can demonstrate its relevance to the employment related decision, or where employers are required to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions due to local, state, or federal law or regulation; and prohibiting employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal history until after it has been determined that the job applicant is otherwise qualified for the job position, or the job applicant is a part of the final pool of candidates from which the job position will be filled and all of the applicants in the pool are asked.
  • B.B. #121- Vaccaro – An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters of the City of St. Louis, a proposal to revise Section 2 of Article VIII of the City of St. Louis Charter which requires City employees to reside within the boundaries of the City of St. Louis and thus allow said employees, except for City Agency and Department Directors appointed by the Mayor, to reside outside of the boundaries of the City of St. Louis, and; providing for an election to be held for voting on the proposed revision and the manner of voting thereat and; for the publication, certification, deposit, and recording of this ordinance; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B. #122 – Vollmer – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for the 5223 Botanical Ave. Area
  • B.B. #123 – Vollmer – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for the 5476 Dempsey Ave. and 5027 Daggett Ave. Area

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 — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

First Look At Metro’s Revised Bus Service (aka Metro Reimagined)

October 2, 2019 Featured, Public Transit, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on First Look At Metro’s Revised Bus Service (aka Metro Reimagined)
 

I’ve only begun looking at the new “Metro Reimagined” bus service in St. Louis City & County, haven’t even ridden a bus yet this week. I do recall other riders discussing it last Friday at the bus stop. One woman, who also lives just north of downtown, was upset about the west end of the #97 Delmar bus getting cut in St. Louis County. It will mean more walking for her to get to work.

The #70 Grand MetroBus is the busiest bus line in the region, partly due to being the only route frequent service. August 2012

Here are the four tiers used to organize the MetroBus routes:

  • Frequent: 10 high-frequency routes offering service every 15 minutes or faster
  • Local: 35 routes offering 30-minute service
  • Community: 6 routes that provide important connections in low-ridership areas
  • Express: 6 routes providing direct connections with limited stops to key destinations

My first place to start was asking “Will I be impacted?” by this change. The short answer is yes — every bus rider will see changes to service. Some positive, some negative.

Moving from Downtown West to Columbus Square in December 2018 means I have fewer bus routes available — basically the #32, with the southbound  #40 another 1/10 of a mile further away than the southbound #32. The northbound #32 is considerably closer than the northbound #40.

Since moving I’ve rarely used the #40, the #32 is my primary bus route. Both routes are considered “local” routes, now with 30 minute frequency during weekdays. The service was every 40 minutes, so 30 minute frequency is an improvement.

The other bus I use is the #90 Hampton, when I visit my doctor 4x per year. While it’s listed as a “frequent” route with 15 minute service that only applies to the northern portion of the route from Riverview to Forest Park. From Forest Park to Gravois-Hampton service is every 30 minutes. I think service has been every 40 minutes, so another slight improvement.

Another bus I used to ride often is the #99 downtown trolley, introduced in

Me exiting the Downtown Trolley on the day it debuted in July 2010. The bright wrap ceased being used a few years ago. Photo by Jim Merkel

The recent Sunday Poll asked about this new plan:

Q: Agree or disagree: Metro’s new ‘Metro Reimagined’ with more frequent bus service will result in significant ridership increases.

  • Strongly agree: 0 [0%]
  • Agree: 2 [7.14%]
  • Somewhat agree: 4 [14.29%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 3 [10.71%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [10.71%]
  • Disagree: 5 [17.86%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [32.14%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 2 [7.14%]

More than 60% didn’t think this will lead to a significant increase in ridership. That’s fair, I think the primary goal was to better serve existing riders — to stop losing ridership.

Riders in some parts of the county will see less service.  My intention is for future posts to look at what’s working well, and what’s not.

— Steve Patterson

New Book — ‘Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit’ by Steven Higashide

September 30, 2019 Books, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on New Book — ‘Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit’ by Steven Higashide
 
‘Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit’ by Steven Higashide will be available October 10, 2019.

I’ve known for a while that today’s the day Metro rolls out the biggest change to bus routes in decades. I wasn’t sure how I’d evaluate the changes then last week a new book shows up: ‘Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit’ by Steven Higashide.

From publisher Island Press:

Imagine a bus system that is fast, frequent, and reliable—what would that change about your city?

Buses can and should be the cornerstone of urban transportation. They offer affordable mobility and can connect citizens with every aspect of their lives. But in the US, they have long been an afterthought in budgeting and planning. With a compelling narrative and actionable steps, Better Buses, Better Cities inspires us to fix the bus.

Transit expert Steven Higashide shows us what a successful bus system looks like with real-world stories of reform—such as Houston redrawing its bus network overnight, Boston making room on its streets to put buses first, and Indianapolis winning better bus service on Election Day. Higashide shows how to marshal the public in support of better buses and how new technologies can keep buses on time and make complex transit systems understandable.

Higashide argues that better bus systems will create better cities for all citizens. The consequences of subpar transit service fall most heavily on vulnerable members of society. Transit systems should be planned to be inclusive and provide better service for all. These are difficult tasks that require institutional culture shifts; doing all of them requires resilient organizations and transformational leadership.

Better bus service is key to making our cities better for all citizens. Better Buses, Better Cities describes how decision-makers, philanthropists, activists, and public agency leaders can work together to make the bus a win in any city.

Though I have a hard time post-stroke reading a book cover to cover, I dived into the introduction and some chapters. Here are the contents so you can see how it’s organized:

  • Preface: My Own Bus Story
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: We Need to Unleash the Bus
  • Chapter 1: What Makes People Choose the Bus?
  • Chapter 2: Make the Bus Frequent
  • Chapter 3: Make the Bus Fast and Reliable
  • Chapter 4: Make the Bus Walkable and Dignified
  • Chapter 5: Make the Bus Fair and Welcoming
  • Chapter 6: Gerrymandering the Bus
  • Chapter 7: Technology Won’t Kill the Bus—Unless We Let It
  • Chapter 8: Building a Transit Nation
  • Conclusion: Winning Mindsets and Growing Movements

The introduction agues we must reduce greenhouse emissions from transportation — public transit it how we accomplish that goal. Specifically, the bus is how we reduce greenhouse emissions by reducing car trips — including Lyft & Uber trips.  Higashide also points out that civic leaders, business leaders, and transit agency executives & board members don’t ride the bus in their regions. Non-riders think adding wifi, for example, will make a difference. Frequency and convenience is what matters. If the bus runs every 15 minutes that’s great — bus not if you need to walk 5 blocks on each end of the trip.

If you’re interested in learning about the importance of bus service is to a region, and how to improve it,  I suggest getting this book when it comes out October 10th. Read more about author Steven Higashide here.

I’ll be using this book as a guide for my first look at Metro’s new bus service on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

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