More Frequent Bus Service Should Begin Next Year

 

 A year from now transit service in St. Louis City & County will likely be different than it is today. Metro, AKA Bi-State, has held informational meetings and hearings on their new plan they call Metro Reimagined. Light rail (MetroLink) will be largely the same, the plan focuses on the …

Sunday Poll: Was the Greitens Affair Consensual?

 

 Last week a special House committee released a report on its investigation into the affair Eric Greitens had before he became Missouri’s governor: He blindfolded and bound a woman to exercise equipment, spanked her, and tried to kiss her without her consent. Those are among the scandalous allegations against Gov. …

Pruitt-Igoe’s William Igoe Died 65 Years Ago; St. Louis Board of Aldermen Started New Session This Week

 

 Sixty five years ago today the person for whom the intended white section of failed Pruitt-Igoe public housing project was named died at age 73: William Leo Igoe (October 19, 1879 – April 20, 1953) was a United States Representative from Missouri. Igoe was born in St. Louis to Irish immigrants. He attended the public and parochial schools …

A Decade Since Developer Pyramid Construction Collapsed; Guidelines Needed for Development Incentives

 

 A decade ago I was about four hours from St. Louis, still in a rehab hospital after my February 1st stroke. I got a call from a friend, a former Pyramid Construction employee, telling me he heard the heavily-leveraged company was shutting down that day. I immediately called someone still employed at …

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Nearly a Quarter of St. Louis Households Underserved by Transit

March 19, 2018 Featured, Public Transit Comments Off on Nearly a Quarter of St. Louis Households Underserved by Transit
 

Last month Streetsblog USA had a post that caught my attention:

Where should your city aim to add transit service? The places where more buses and trains will be most useful are areas where lots of people live or work, but there’s not enough service to meet the demand.

new data tool from the Center for Neighborhood Technology helps pinpoint these locations in cities around the U.S. The “Gap Finder” — an extension of CNT’s All Transit database — overlays demographic data and transit schedule information on maps that highlight where more people would ride transit if service levels were higher.

The transit gaps mapped by CNT are not to be confused with “transit deserts” — areas with no transit at all. Areas with some transit service may still not have nearly enough to adequately serve the people who live or work there, while areas without any service may be so spread out that fixed-route transit won’t do much good. (Streetsblog USA)

They used three cities as examples: Miami, Los Angeles, and New York City — all had lots of underserved households — their maps were covered in red.

I wanted to see how St. Louis fared on AllTransit’s Gap Finder:

The following quote explains.

TRANSIT GAPS
On the map above, any orange and red areas show transit markets where households are underserved by transit and would benefit from improvements. Blue areas indicate where the transit market strength is already met by a minimum benchmark of adequate transit service and white areas show where the market strength for transit service is low enough that adding transit would not represent an improvement. The pie chart shows the percentage of those households underserved by transit grouped by market strength.

Note: The market is not the same as demand. The gap results from a comparison of current service to the standard or average transit service in similar neighborhoods – not the best and not the worst service, but average.

Why Are There Transit Gaps?

Transit gaps exist wherever there is a mismatch between the strength of a transit market and the quality of transit service available to the households of that community. 

Calculating the Strength of Transit Markets

AllTransitTM defines the strength of a transit market by comparing a wide range of neighborhood characteristics to current transit service available in transit served areas with similar neighborhood characteristics.

I show the pie chart below, but first I want to get in closer.

Now we can see underserved areas.

Soi now what? How do we improve?

Reducing the average wait time for transit by 17 minutes for the underserved neighborhoods in St. Louis, MO would provide enough service improvement to meet minimum standards expected of the transit market in those areas.

Here’s more:

Every location and transit agency is unique, but generally one solution would be to increase the frequency of transit service along the existing (on average) 6 routes or adding new routes. Adding 7 rides per hourwould, on average, close the gap for the underserved areas in St. Louis, MO.

The measure of transit service is driven by the frequency of service, the distance to all transit stops, and the access to jobs on transit. For underserved areas in St. Louis, MO, increasing the average frequency of service from 8 to 15 total trips/hour would change the average transit service in underserved areas from 39 to 44 (out of 100).

The following summarizes headway & frequency goals:

I did not try to find flaws in their methodology. The purpose of this post us to inform others about this new tool and hopefully it’ll lead to improved service in St. Louis.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Any Issues With ‘In God We Trust’ on Wentzville’s Board of Alderman Dais?

March 18, 2018 Featured, Religion, St. Charles County, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Any Issues With ‘In God We Trust’ on Wentzville’s Board of Alderman Dais?
 
Please vote below

The opening of new buildings can sometimes be controversial, but using things like proportions, materials, colors, etc.  Wentzville’s new city hall opened last year and 12 letters are sparking protest & debate.

From earlier this month:

Dozens of people packed Wentzville City Hall on Wednesday night to rally behind a display of “In God We Trust” in the City Council chambers.

But their show of support didn’t stop several opponents of the motto’s display from voicing their opposition to the council.

The motto has been on display in large letters on the council dais since the building opened in November. (Post-Dispatch)

The phrase appears on the dais where the aldermen sit during their meetings. This issue is the subject of today’s non-scientific poll.

This poll will close automatically at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

Aldermen Approved Failed St. Louis Centre Forty Years Ago

March 16, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Downtown, Featured, Retail Comments Off on Aldermen Approved Failed St. Louis Centre Forty Years Ago
 

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also the 40th anniversary of the start of one of St. Louis’ worst decisions: St. Louis Centre

This Day in St. Louis History, March 17, 1978:
The first step towards St. Louis Centre

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved three bills that would set the stage to develop a proposed downtown shopping mall, with the only further step being the acquisition of federal funding. The headquarters of Stx, Baer, & Fuller, which would become Dillard’s just months before the mall’s completion, and Famous-Barr existed with one block separating them between Washington and Locust at 6th Street. The goal was to create an enclosed, urban shopping mall with these two companies as anchors, and the estimated budget was nearly $150 million. St. Louis Centre opened in 1985 as the largest shopping mall in America. It had over 150 stores and 20 restaurants, and was initially a great success. Challenges appeared in the 1990s however, as the Westroads Shopping Center was redeveloped into the St. Louis Galleria and stores began closing. St. Louis Centre closed in 2006, and since then has been redeveloped into a 750-car parking garage and retail center. (From now defunct STL250 Facebook page)

The mall opened seven years later, in 1985.

To any urbanist the idea of razing an entire city block to build one massive internally-focused building is just wrong. Anyone who knew better either kept quiet or were silenced, ignored. Malls in the suburbs are doing great so we must do the same.

St. Louis Centre, April 2006
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006

The mall is now a parking garage with out-facing retail at the sidewalk level. The oppressive bridges over Washington & Locust are gone.

2014

The mistake has been reversed, but the damage was done long ago. Retailing, once a big part of downtown, is almost nonexistent. Restaurants are now the generators of much foot traffic.

I can’t help but wonder where downtown would be if bills weren’t approved 40 years ago.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: Video Gaming Would Be a Mistake For Missouri

March 14, 2018 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Video Gaming Would Be a Mistake For Missouri
 

Remember back to 1994 when gambling in Missouri was limited to actual boats?

Two riverboat casinos recently opened in Missouri despite the state’s ban on slot machines and many other games of chance.

The President Casino on the Admiral is permanently moored on the Mississippi River, just north of the Gateway Arch. The recently renovated riverboat, which dates from 1907, has 70,000 square feet of casino space with nearly 100 tables assigned to blackjack, poker and craps, and 150 video poker games.

Admission is $2 during the week and $5 on weekends. Boarding is allowed every two hours from 10 a.m. to midnight. Entrance is restricted to adults at least 21 years old. For information: 800-772-3647.

About 30 miles away in St. Charles, Mo., the Casino St. Charles has a 24,500-foot casino with 52 tables for blackjack and craps, and 813 video poker machines. The riverboat cruises the Missouri River for two hours, weather and water levels permitting. Otherwise, gambling is dockside at the St. Charles Riverfront Station. (Chicago Tribune)

Boats either literally cruised the river or, like the Admiral, admission wasn’t allowed while it was “cruising” in place. Next came buildings with a little river water moat next to them. Eventually that was scrapped too. Now lawmakers might approve video gaming in the convenience store down the street.

Lo0k at Illinois. The following is one of many examples in Springfield IL.

24 hour video gaming!
A new wall was built to create a small gaming room. Not even close to being ADA-comliant.
Three signs mentioning the 21 age requirement.
Inside the small room

Above photos by my husband, David. This makes losing your money more convenient than in a casino.

As to the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll question — new revenue isn’t necessarily a positive — it could also result in a greater reduction of casino revenue. For communities that don’t receive any casino revenue, video gaming will add to their budgets. But is this new money or just money not spent/taxed elsewhere in the community?

Here are the poll results:

Q: Agree or disagree: Video gaming could help ease Missouri’s tight budget

  • Strongly agree 2 [11.11%]
  • Agree 2 [11.11%]
  • Somewhat agree 3 [16.67%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [11.11%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 4 [22.22%]
  • Strongly disagree 4 [22.22%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [5.56%]

The number of responses was half that of a typical week.

— Steve Patterson

New Book — Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future

March 12, 2018 Books, Featured, Transportation Comments Off on New Book — Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future
 

There’s major change going on in transportation today — it is still undetermined if this change is a good thing. A new book from Island Press discusses the pros and cons:

For the first time in half a century, real transformative innovations are coming to our world of passenger transportation. The convergence of new shared mobility services with automated and electric vehicles promises to significantly reshape our lives and communities for the better—or for the worse.

The dream scenario could bring huge public and private benefits, including more transportation choices, greater affordability and accessibility, and healthier, more livable cities, along with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The nightmare scenario could bring more urban sprawl, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and unhealthy cities and individuals.

In Three Revolutions, transportation expert Dan Sperling, along with seven other leaders in the field, share research–based insights on potential public benefits and impacts of the three transportation revolutions. They describe innovative ideas and partnerships, and explore the role government policy can play in steering the new transportation paradigm toward the public interest—toward our dream scenario of social equity, environmental sustainability, and urban livability.

Many factors will influence these revolutions—including the willingness of travelers to share rides and eschew car ownership; continuing reductions in battery, fuel cell, and automation costs; and the adaptiveness of companies. But one of the most important factors is policy.

Three Revolutions offers policy recommendations and provides insight and knowledge that could lead to wiser choices by all. With this book, Sperling and his collaborators hope to steer these revolutions toward the public interest and a better quality of life for everyone. (Island Press)

Here’s the main chapters so you can see the topics addressed:

Chapter 1. Will the Transportation Revolutions Improve Our Lives—or Make Them Worse? \ Daniel Sperling, Susan Pike, and Robin Chase
Chapter 2. Electric Vehicles: Approaching the Tipping Point \ Daniel Sperling
Chapter 3. Shared Mobility: The Potential of Ride Hailing and Pooling \ Susan Shaheen
Chapter 4. Vehicle Automation: Our Best Shot at a Transportation Do-Over? \ Daniel Sperling, Ellen van der Meer, and Susan Pike
Chapter 5. Upgrading Transit for the Twenty-First Century \ Steven E. Polzin and Daniel Sperling
Chapter 6. Bridging the Gap Between Mobility Haves and Have-Nots \ Anne Brown and Brian D. Taylor
Chapter 7. Remaking the Auto Industry \ Levi Tillemann
Chapter 8. The Dark Horse: Will China Win the Electric, Automated, Shared Mobility Race? \ Michael J. Dunne

You can preview selected pages on Google Books.

This book isn’t a utopian fantasy about how transportation will be. Instead it’s a very grounded review of problems we’ll face as technology forces change — and how we might navigate it. You can buy it directly from Island Press, Left Bank Books, Amazon (additional preview), or other retailers.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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