How To Address North St. Louis’ Shrinking Population

 

 The 2020 Census results results for St. Louis showed what I had predicted, the bulk of our population loss came from northside wards.  This was also true in 2010 and in 2020. No reason to think 2030 won’t be more of the same. We can sit back and do nothing, …

St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive 2022

 

 Today’s post is a look at Martin Luther King Jr  Drive in the City of St. Louis — my 18th annual such post. As in the 17 times prior, I traveled the length in both directions looking for changes from the previous year. Not much has changed since MLK Day …

Loop Trolley and the Story of Joey Pennywise & Uncle Samuel Moneybags

 

 Joey Pennywise sold widgets and wanted to increase sales. To do this Pennywise thought to buy 5 smart outfits to standout from generic & common widget salespersons. But Pennywise didn’t have the funds to buy the desired outfits.  Pennywise likes all things vintage and knows used outfits can be purchased …

Some Highlights of 2021 in Saint Louis

 

 It’s the last day of twenty twenty-one, so here’s a look back at the year in St. Louis. This isn’t a complete list, just some highlights — not in chronological order. Many things from 2020 continued into 2021. The most obvious is the COVID-19 pandemic.  Hospitals were often operating beyond …

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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

Sunday Poll: Will ‘Metro Reimagined’ Produce Significant Gains In MetroBus Ridership?

September 29, 2019 Featured Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will ‘Metro Reimagined’ Produce Significant Gains In MetroBus Ridership?
 
Please vote below

Tomorrow Metro’s new “Metro Reimagined” bus service begins. A recent press release gives a good summary:

The new MetroBus service plan for transit riders in St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis will go into effect on Monday, September 30. This major service change will impact every bus route in both the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, and will provide customers with more frequent service, improved weekend service and more convenient options for getting around town.

The new routes which will be implemented on September 30 are the culmination of the two-year Metro Reimagined project, an in-depth analysis of the Metro Transit system launched to identify improvements needed to better meet the mobility needs of customers. Research, customer engagement and community outreach conducted during the project identified faster, more direct trips and more frequent service as top priorities for bus riders.

Through the new service plan, Metro Transit is increasing the frequency of many MetroBus routes. Ten routes, which carry nearly half of current MetroBus customers in Missouri, are offering service every 15 minutes or faster on weekdays. In comparison, the MetroBus system currently only has one bus route (the #70 Grand) that offers 15-minute frequency. In addition, the new service plan includes 35 MetroBus routes that will offer 30-minute frequencies, instead of the 40-minute or 60-minute service many routes operate on today.

Weekend service is also being improved through the Metro Reimagined plan. Nearly all MetroBus routes will have Sunday service, including many routes that currently do not operate on Sundays. Service levels will also be consistent on Saturdays and Sundays. This improved service provides better options and more reliability for customers over the entire weekend.

Under the new finalized Metro Reimagined plan, MetroBus routes are organized into four categories:

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

This major change to bus service in the City & County is the subject of today’s non-scientific poll.

This poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight. My thoughts and the results on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 16 of 2019-2020 Session

September 27, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 16 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 16th 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 15.

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

  • B.B. #113 – Davis – An Ordinance approving the petition to establish The 2019 Grand Center Community Improvement District; finding a public purpose therefor, and containing a severability clause and emergency Clause.
  • B.B. #114 – NUMBER NOT USED THIS SESSION
  • B.B. #115 – Moore – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service to conditionally vacate above surface, surface and sub-surface rights for vehicle, equestrian and pedestrian travel in the northern 120 feet of the 15 foot wide north-south alley in City Block 1880 as bounded by Cote Brilliante, Grand, Aldine and Spring in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, as hereinafter described, in accordance with Charter authority, and in conformity with Section l4 of Article XXI of the Charter and imposing certain conditions on such vacation.
  • B.B. #116 – Vaccaro – An ordinance adopted and approved pursuant to § 70.815 RSMo, authorizing the Police Commissioner to make a contract on behalf of the City of St. Louis with St. Louis County allowing St. Louis County to provide police services on MetroLink Property within the city limits of the City of St. Louis, including exercising powers of arrest for criminal offenses and violations of the ordinances of the City of St. Louis the same as possessed by the police officers of the City of St. Louis, and with the same immunity as if acting within St. Louis County, and containing an Emergency Clause

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

We’ve Got To Be Smart On Crime, Not Hard Or Soft

September 25, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on We’ve Got To Be Smart On Crime, Not Hard Or Soft
 

The phrase “soft on crime” has a long history of being used to encourage the public to support the “lock them up and throw away the key” view of criminal justice…more accurately injustice.

The 1990s panic over youth and gang violence had us characterizing juvenile offenders as “superpredators” who were beyond redemption. The popular slogan “adult time for adult crime” echoed a “get-tough” approach for punishing kids. Recently, however, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished mandatory life sentences for minors. And policy makers have recommitted to the original philosophy of juvenile justice, prioritizing the needs of young offenders rather than what punishment is deserved.

The 1990s also saw the rapid spread of a penal policy patterned after a well-known baseball refrain — “three strikes and you’re out.” This metaphorical approach to sentencing felons helped nearly bankrupt many states, especially California where “three strikes” was most enthusiastically adopted.

Thousands upon thousands of Americans were taken prisoner in the “War on Drugs” declared in the early 1970s when crime rates soared. Having surrendered this misguided campaign, the nation is now looking more toward treatment for addicts than punishment, and releasing nonviolent drug offenders from prison. (USA Today)

Fearing being labeled as “soft on crime” conservative Democrats, aka neoliberals, fully embraced tough on crime policies. This allowed them to work with Republicans to pass bipartisan legislation.

Cover of ‘Time’ magazine, February 7, 1994

This led to innocent men, mostly African-Americans, being incarcerated. Mass incarceration is now a major problem. Families were torn apart. Persons who served their time returned home to find they couldn’t get a job or housing. Recidivism was inevitable.

We screwed up…for decades.

St. Louis is a Democratic city, but mostly of old school neoliberal conservative Democrats. So the fact a majority of respondents to the non-scientific Sunday Poll think think our first black prosecutors has led to a sudden spike in violent crime shouldn’t surprise me.

Q: Agree or disagree: Violent crime is increasing in St. Louis City & County because our new prosecutors are soft on crime.

  • Strongly agree: 14 [48.28%]
  • Agree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [6.9%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 5 [17.24%]
  • Strongly disagree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Long-standing policies, not new prosecutors, are responsible for our violence. Smart solutions don’t look like the old, but now problematic, one. St. Louisans must learn to embrace change if we’re ever going to make progress in addressing our problems.

— Steve Patterson

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