STL Downtown Multimodal Study Engagement Week Begins Today

 

 Today kicks off a week of events, from the Facebook Event page: You’re invited to join the City of St. Louis as we talk about the future of our Downtown transportation system. Join any of these half-day workshops. We hope you are able to attend and take part in the …

Sunday Poll: Was Justice Served In The Stockley Verdict?

 

 On Friday a judge finally issued his ruling on the murder trial of a former St. Louis police officer. Stockley, then a St. Louis officer, fatally shot Smith, 24, after a police chase in December 2011 over a suspected drug deal. After he pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bill #122

 

 Last week the St. Louis Board of Aldermen introduced twenty (20) new Board Bills. Today. only one. ON AGENDA* FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 9/15/17: *Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced if they suspend the …

Readers: OK To Raze For Amazon’s HQ2

 

 Last week Amazon announced it planned to build a second headquarters somewhere in North America. Every Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of at least 1 million people is likely interested in attracting Amazon. That’s roughly 50 regions just in the US, the St. Louis region is 20th in size on this …

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The Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center Reopens Today…Smoke-Free!

August 14, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on The Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center Reopens Today…Smoke-Free!
 

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A look back at the original Civic Center MetroBus Center. The block North of Spruce had many trees.

In October 2011 many brown areas could be spotted on the evergreen trees
To prep for a new Civic Center bus transfer facility, all the trees were cut down. The Feds will require Metro to plant new trees
The official route from 14th to the MetroLink platform involves steps or two switchback ramps

The new design is substantially different, it has 3 times as many bus bays. First we have to get to it. For both the ribbon cutting (8/10) and open house (8/11) I arrived from the North on the West side of 14th Street (next to Peabody Opera/Scottrade Center). Both times I had to take a detour, hopefully this morning this is open.

AS I arrived for the open house I saw Fredbird walking on 14th because the sidewalk at the corner was closed.
Moments later Fredbird made it around the corner
Later I made it around to the other side, it appears done so hopefully the fencing is pulled back today. The North plaza area, left, is still being finished.
To accèss Civic Center I usd ri go West along Clark, almost to 16th. I couldn’t get to 14th & Spruce because the sidewalks don’t connect on the East side of 14th, which surprised some Metro officials.
On Thursday holes were being dug for a new fence along Clark.
Since opening in 1993 this sidewalk has been too narrow. now the added fence is close leaving no room for people to step side on the South
Heading up the West ramp to the building
Looking back to where I’d been.
Once the corner st 14th & Clark is open pedestrians will use a 14th Street sidewalk not filled with bus stops. Trees will be planted, providing separation from the traffic lane.
Those pedestrians who approach from the South will likely take a shortcut, those of us in mobility devices don’t have that option because bio ramp is provided on the South end
There are several very long crosswalks, the able-bodied will take less risky short-cuts
Some will enter any 14th & Spruce, facing the new building. The MetroLink platform ids beyond, with Amshack 3 beyond that.
Inside the building are restrooms, concessions, security, etc
Each bank of seating has an outlet, carry your phone charger
Like North County TC, the bathrooms don’t have doors . Great for those of us who use a mobility device
From the building you can look down at the MetroLink platform
View of the building from the platform
View north from the steps next to the building
Trees, plants, and art will be installed at the North this full .

At the ribbon cutting on Thursday Metro Transit Exec Dir Ray Friem was adamant Civic Center would open allowing smoking, like their other bus centers. I argued this was the perfect time to make Civic Center smoke-free. Metro staff told me their inconsistent policy of no-smoking on train platforms but smoking at bus shelters on their private property had been the subject of many internal debates over the years. Friem said Metro would go smoke0-free, he just didn’t know how or when.  I rallied others to talk to Friem. It worked.

Metro has announced Civic Center is opening smoke-free, other bus transit centers will go smoke0-free  next month. Finally I can change buses at a transit center without having my eyes water or throat close because of smokers around me.

Four bus routes are being split up:

  • The #30 is being split into the #19 St. Louis Ave and #30 Arsenal
  • The #32 M.L. King-Chouteau is being split into the #31 Chouteau and #32 M.L. King.
  • The #40 Broadway route becomes the #20 S. Broadway and #40 N. Broadway  — yes, both are being routes through Civic Center.
  • The #99 Downtown Trolley is having a West portion split off into the #96 Market Street Shuttle.

You can read all the changes here.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Are You Uncomfortable In The Arch Tram?

August 13, 2017 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Are You Uncomfortable In The Arch Tram?
 
Please vote below

I’d guess that most of you reading this post have been up in the Gateway Arch at least once. Today’s poll question is curious if you get uncomfortable doing so.

This poll will close at 8pm

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Reading: Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty by Scott W. Allard

August 11, 2017 Featured, Reading Comments Off on Reading: Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty by Scott W. Allard
 

A new book, Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty, by Scott W. Allard, takes a close look at poverty and where it is increasingly located  — the suburbs. AS Allard points out, poverty still exists in the city center.

Americans think of suburbs as prosperous areas that are relatively free from poverty and unemployment. Yet, today more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities themselves. In Places in Need, social policy expert Scott W. Allard tracks how the number of poor people living in suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from either academics or policymakers. Rising suburban poverty has not coincided with a decrease in urban poverty, meaning that solutions for reducing poverty must work in both cities and suburbs. Allard notes that because the suburban social safety net is less developed than the urban safety net, a better understanding of suburban communities is critical for understanding and alleviating poverty in metropolitan areas.

Using census data, administrative data from safety net programs, and interviews with nonprofit leaders in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, Allard shows that poor suburban households resemble their urban counterparts in terms of labor force participation, family structure, and educational attainment. In the last few decades, suburbs have seen increases in single-parent households, decreases in the number of college graduates, and higher unemployment rates. As a result, suburban demand for safety net assistance has increased. Concerning is evidence suburban social service providers—which serve clients spread out over large geographical areas, and often lack the political and philanthropic support that urban nonprofit organizations can command—do not have sufficient resources to meet the demand.

To strengthen local safety nets, Allard argues for expanding funding and eligibility to federal programs such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which have proven effective in urban and suburban communities alike. He also proposes to increase the capabilities of community-based service providers through a mix of new funding and capacity-building efforts.

Places in Need demonstrates why researchers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders should focus more on the shared fate of poor urban and suburban communities. This account of suburban vulnerability amidst persistent urban poverty provides a valuable foundation for developing more effective antipoverty strategies. (Russell Sage Foundation Press)

Suburban poverty, as Allard demonstrates, isn’t limited to low-ibcxomw suburbs either. Middlew class and even affluent suburban areas have poverty.

The chapters in the book are:

  • Chapter 1 Introduction (Note: This chapter can be preview3d in PDF format.)
  • Chapter 2 (Re)Considering Poverty and Place in the United States
  • Chapter 3 e Changing Geography of Poverty in the United States
  • Chapter 4 e Local Safety Net Response
  • Chapter 5 Understanding Metropolitan Social Service Safety Nets
  • Chapter 6 Rethinking Poverty, Rethinking Policy

Interesting data is available in the online technical index. Once just an inner-city problem, poverty is now wide-spread.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: Missouri GOP Gutted Missouri’s Civil Rights Law

August 9, 2017 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Missouri GOP Gutted Missouri’s Civil Rights Law
 
Top of the Civil Courts building in rainbow colors for PrideFest2013

Senate Bill 43, signed by Gov Greitens, guts Missouri’s civil rights protections:

The governor’s signature on Senate Bill 43, for which Greitens had not publicly stated his support, will require workers who claim discrimination in wrongful-termination suits to prove that bias was the explicit reason they were fired. The current standard requires only that dismissed workers prove that bias merely was a contributing factor.

“I’ve met with passionate advocates on both sides of SB 43,” Greitens said. “I respect all of them. I’ve listened to every side. I believe we need to bring Missouri’s standards in line with 38 other states and the federal government.”

The new law applies a “motivating factor” standard for employment discrimination cases, which Greitens’ office said is in keeping with standards used by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in analyzing claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The measure changes Missouri’s whistleblower laws — including removing protections for state employees — and limits punitive damages for victims of workplace discrimination.

The bill also says employees can’t sue the individual who engaged in discriminatory actions. They can sue only the business itself.(KC Star)

The applies to all discrimination, not just employment. Housing, public accommodation, etc are all changed. As a gay disabled person this is troubling.

Despite high-profile opposition from civil rights groups, a personal friend and Democratic lawmakers, Gov. Eric Greitens approved a measure that will require people to explicitly prove their race, sex or other protected status actually motivated their boss or colleague to mistreat them to win an employment discrimination case.

[snip]

Missouri workers currently need only prove their protected status was a “contributing factor” to prevail in court. For example, if a Hispanic plaintiff is fired for being late for work while white workers show up late and aren’t fired, the Hispanic employee could ask a jury to compare the treatment and contend that race “contributed” to the boss’s decision.

Under the new law, which goes into effect Aug. 28, such an employee would need to meet a higher standard: The worker would have to show that race explicitly “motivated” mistreatment through, for example, written documentation of racist comments. (Post-Dispatch)

To  prove motivation in a discrimination case is nearly impossible.  Therefore, I applaud the National NAACP for backing the Missouri NAACP Travel Advisory, as a way to call attention to what is happening. They and other groups should boycott Missouri until this is reversed.

Readers were split in the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: The NAACP travel advisory is unnecessary and should be pulled

  • Strongly agree 9 [23.68%]
  • Agree 5 [13.16%]
  • Somewhat agree 4 [10.53%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [5.26%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 7 [18.42%]
  • Strongly disagree 10 [26.32%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.63%]

Everyone reading this falls into at least one protected class, but your legal options to address discrimination will soon be limited.

— Steve Patterson

The Gateway Transportation Center Is Now Amshack #3

August 7, 2017 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on The Gateway Transportation Center Is Now Amshack #3
 

St. Louis’ first Union Station opened in 1875. but proved too small very quickly. The significantly larger Union Station we know at 18th & Market opened 19 years later on September 1, 1894.

The beauty of Carl Milles’ work with Union Station in the background
Grand Hall in St. Louis Union Station

The busy days of Union Station lasted through WWII, but then saw declines.

As airliners became the preferred mode of long-distance travel and railroad passenger services declined in the 1950s and 1960s, the massive station became obsolete and too expensive to maintain for its original purpose. With the takeover of national rail passenger service by Amtrak in 1971, passenger train service to St. Louis was reduced to only three trains a day. Amtrak stopped using Union Station on October 31, 1978; the six trains daily did not justify such a large facility. The last to leave Union Station was a Chicago-bound Inter-American. Passenger service shifted to an “Amshack” one block east, now the site of the Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center. (Wikipedia)

Ticket sales stopped inside the main building for a while, moving to a temporary building under the big train shed. But in 1978 service was moved to the first of two buildings commonly known as “amshack”. The first was a glorified portable building. complete with T1-11 siding.   The 2nd Amshack was of concrete block, opened in December 2004, still exists.

Amtrak service is in the Gateway Transportation Center, just East of Amshack #2, now used by Amtrak workers.

The Gateway Transportation Center is the City of St. Louis’ state of-the-art multimodal transportation hub. It is conveniently located in the heart of downtown St. Louis where Amtrak passenger train, Greyhound bus, and Metro light rail and bus service converge. This new facility provides passengers with a clean, safe, and friendly transportation center featuring 24-hour operations staff and security. (St. Louis Comptroller)

I was there on November 21, 2008 when St, Louis opened the new Gateway Transpiration Center with Amtrak & Greyhound bus. Megabus is a recent addition.

Comptroller Darlene Green speaking at the opening fNovember 21, 2008

Since opening, I’ve used all three  — Megabus, Greyhound, and Amtrak. In the last 5 years I’ve had at least a dozen round trips from this facility. Most recently returning on Amtrak from Chicago on July 30th.

The Gateway Transportation Center is now, in my opinion, Amshack #3. It’s an embarrassing dump.

The opener hasn’t worked on the East doors for years, May 2012 photo
Also in May 2012 two of three urinals weren’t working.

For at least 5 years the opener to the outside door leading from Civic Center MetroLink station hasn’t worked. Same with a urinal in the main men’s room. Our train from Chicago arrived about 15 minutes early on Sunday July 30th . The up escalator from the platform wasn’t working so everyone had to use the elevator up. Once over the tracks we needed to get down to the main station. The down escalators and elevator weren’t working — stairs were the only option. There were families with small children and I’m in my wheelchair. Mu husband goes down the stairs to see if anyone can help.

Sign on the only accessible way to/from trains indicating out of service. It worked two days earlier.

I knew a ramp existed at the East end of the platform, used ro drive golf carts up to assist those who can’t walk the distance. I make it to the employee parking lot but the elevator I need to get up to the station is the same one I couldn’t use to get down. The only option was to “drive” my wheelchair out of the parking lot, through the gate, to the street.

In June of this years one urinal wasn’t working,

Though Amtrak is just a tenant, it would’ve been nice had they told me the elevator was broken as they got me off the train. I want to know why something is always broken at the Gateway Transportation Center. Is the Comptroller’s office incapable of managing the building? Is proper maintenance beyond debt and rent?

For many travelers this is their first experience in St. Louis. Welcome.

— Steve Patterson

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