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Sunday Poll: Would Turnstiles Improve Safety On MetroLink?

April 16, 2017 Crime, Featured, Public Transit, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would Turnstiles Improve Safety On MetroLink?
Please vote below

After two recent fatal shootings regional officials are looking for solutions:

After meeting privately for more than an hour Wednesday, St. Louis Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said they have a framework to improve security along the light-rail line that connects the three counties.

The announcement comes after two fatal shootings on MetroLink last month. At a news conference after the closed door meeting, officials offered few details other than to say physical barriers, such as turnstiles, were needed. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Today’s poll question is about turnstiles & public safety:

The poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Large Turnout For Tuesday’s General Election

April 7, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy, Public Transit, Taxes Comments Off on Large Turnout For Tuesday’s General Election

Tuesday’s general election had the highest turnout of any April general in the City of St. Louis for the last decade!

Voter turnout was twice as high for this city general election than four years ago, the last time the mayor’s race was on the ballot. Voter turnout was 30 percent, or about 59,000 voters, while in 2013 turnout was 12.5 percent of voters. (Post-Dispatch)

Must have been the propositions on the ballot because the races for Mayor, Comptroller and half the Board of Aldermen, weren’t competitive at all — the Democratic nominee won by wide margins in every race. Nobody should be surprised.

Signs & campaign workers outside Central Library on Tuesday.

St. Louis continues wasting money every two years by holding a partisan primary followed a month later by the general election. This gives the illusion that different political parties matter in St. Louis. They don’t.

Proponents of nonpartisan ballots suggest that:

  • Political parties are irrelevant to providing services.
  • Cooperation between elected officials belonging to different parties is more likely.

Proponents for partisan elections argue that:

  • The absence of party labels confuses voters; a voter who must choose from among a group of candidates whom she knows nothing about will have no meaningful basis in casting a ballot.
  • In the absence of a party ballot, voters will turn to whatever cue is available, which often turns out to be the ethnicity of a candidate’s name.
  • Non-partisanship tends to produce elected officials more representative of the upper socioeconomic strata than of the general populace and aggravates the class bias in voting turnout, because in true non-partisan systems there are no organizations of local party workers to bring lower-class citizens to the polls on election day. (League of Cities)

If voters only look to see who the ward committee endorsed in the primary or for the “D” in general it explains a lot about the state of St. Louis. We need educated voters who know the issues and candidates!

REJECTED BY VOTERS:

PROPOSITION A AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER (Proposed by Initiative Petition)

A proposed ordinance submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis an amendment to Article XV of the City Charter repealing Sections 4 and 5 and enacting in lieu thereof four new sections, Sections 4, 4a, 4b and 5, the purpose of which is to abolish the Office of Recorder of Deeds and consolidate the functions of that office with that of the Assessor, and place any realized cost savings in a special fund known as “the police body-worn camera fund” dedicated to the purchase and use of police body-worn cameras by the city Metropolitan Police Department subject to appropriation from the fund by the Board of Aldermen for the express purpose of the fund (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

PROPOSITION B AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER (Proposed by Initiative Petition)

A proposed ordinance submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis an amendment to Article II of the City Charter repealing Sections 1, 2 and 3 and enacting in lieu thereof four new Sections 1, 1(a), 2 and 3, the purpose of which is to move the Primary Municipal Election date from March to August and the General Municipal Election date from April to November in even-numbered years, commencing in 2020 and continuing every two years thereafter, and providing for a transition to accomplish those changes (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

PROPOSITION 2 (Proposed by Ordinance)

Shall the use tax paid by businesses on out-of-state purchases and derived from the one half of one percent increased use tax, which corresponds to approval and levy of an Economic Development Sales Tax in the City of St. Louis, be used for the purposes of minority job training and business development programs, and a portion of construction costs, but not construction cost overruns, of a multipurpose stadium for soccer, local amateur sports, concerts and community events? A use tax is the equivalent of a sales tax on purchases from out-of-state sellers by in-state buyers and on certain taxable business transactions for which a sales tax is not levied. No taxpayer is subject to a sales tax and a use tax on the same transaction. The City shall be required to make available to the public an audited comprehensive financial report detailing the management and use of the portion of the funds each year.

PROPOSITION NS BOND ISSUE ORDINANCE (Proposed by Initiative Petition)

A proposition submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis a proposed Ordinance authorizing and directing the issuance of general obligation bonds of The City of St. Louis, Missouri, not to exceed $40,000,000 principal amount in aggregate (of which no more than $6,000,000 in principal amount shall be issued annually) for the purpose of stabilizing, as limited by the Ordinance, residential properties owned by public entities, as described in the Ordinance, and authorizing the execution of an agreement relating to the expenditure of the sale proceeds of such bonds (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

APPROIVED BY VOTERS:

PROPOSITION C AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER (Proposed by Ordinance)

Shall Section 4 of Article XVIII of the Charter of the City of St. Louis be amended to add paragraph (f), which provides for the enactment of an ordinance establishing a residents’ preference to residents of the City of St. Louis upon successfully passing a civil service examination for civil service positions with the City?

Section 4. Ordinances to be enacted – The mayor and aldermen shall provide, by ordinance: (f) City Residents’ Preference. For a preference to be granted to residents of the City of St. Louis who successfully pass an examination for a civil service position.

PROPOSITION 1 (Proposed by Ordinance)

Shall the City of St. Louis impose a sales tax at a rate of one half of one percent for economic development purposes including (1) North/South Metrolink, (2) neighborhood revitalization, (3) workforce development; (4) public safety, and (5) to upgrade the city’s infrastructure, with annual public audits?

Old buildings will continue to deteriorate, the big hole in the urban fabric will remain West of Union Station. But as early as 2026 an 8-mile light rail North-South line will be running.

Francis Slay has been mayor for 16 of my nearly 27 years in St. Louis — hopefully Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson will be able to move the city in a positive direction.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Loop Trolley Will Surprise Naysayers

March 22, 2017 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Opinion: Loop Trolley Will Surprise Naysayers

I’m not a huge fan of vintage/heritage streetcar/trolley lines — I much prefer modern streetcar lines

using 21st century low-floor vehicles (see Kansas City’s streetcar). I have ridden vintage/heritage lines in San Francisco, Little Rock, New Orleans, and Memphis. I wanted to ride the one in Dallas after becoming disabled, but it isn’t wheelchair accessible. The Loop Trolley, in testing now, will be accessible. Lifts will be on all vehicles to help with wheelchairs, strollers, etc. I’d still much rather see a modern streetcar line to reduce car use and increase transit ridership.

So I must agree with just over half the readers in thinking the Loop Trolly will be an expensive flop? Not at all.

December 2014 photo of new housing at Delmar & Hamilton, and renovated building to the North — both just West of the Loop Trolley headquarters

It is true the Loop Trolley won’t make a significant impact on transportation use in the region or even within the Loop.  Public investment in new infrastructure can result in very positive outcomes. The huge investment in the Washington Ave streetscape some 15 years ago is still paying dividends. Many long-vacant warehouses have been occupied for years. The Loop Trolley investment will have a profound impact along the route over the next 15-25 years.

Some say the Loop is already served by MetroLink. Yes, one station is on Delmar. Suppose visitors downtown decide they want to have dinner in the Loop — at The Melting Pot — are they going to walk nearby a mile (8/10ths) from the <MetroLink station to the restaurant and back? Highly unlikely. The Loop Trolly will step in to address the Loop’s last mile problem:

What is public transit’s first-mile/last-mile (FM/LM) problem? It begins with a ¼ mile. Most people in the United States are “comfortable” walking less than a ¼ mile to or from public transit stops. The problem arises when a potential rider is further than a “comfortable distance” to the necessary fixed-route stop. Of course, what you define as a “comfortable distance” may be very different than what I consider to be a “comfortable distance,” and this distance may vary based on uncontrollable variables such as weather and time of day. (Source)

Conversely, the new Loop Trolley will allow people to live car-free in new apartments/condos and get to MetroLink to take them to work West in Clayton or East at BJC, Cortex, SLU, or downtown.

A long-vacant school building is now the headquarters and maintenance facility.
Tracks leading to the storage & maintenance area
The green car over the service pit is a Melbourne car from Seattle, the red car is 001
Another view of the service pit

increase mobility within the Loop, especially to the newer area East of Skinker will increase foot traffic and hopefully reduce vehicular traffic and the associated parking issues.

Q: Agree or disagree: the Loop Trolley will be a costly flop

  • Strongly agree 10 [18.87%]
  • Agree 9 [16.98%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [15.09%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [1.89%]
  • Somewhat disagree 8 [15.09%]
  • Disagree 8 [15.09%]
  • Strongly disagree 5 [9.43%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 4 [7.55%]

Based on new construction that has already happened I’d say the Loop Trolley is already off to a good start.

 

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Will The Loop Trolley Be A Successes or Failure?

March 19, 2017 Featured, Public Transit, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will The Loop Trolley Be A Successes or Failure?
Please vote below

Testing of car 001 will begin soon on the Loop Trolley project — a 2.2 mile vintage streetcar line. Initially the car will be pulled by a truck to test tolerances , followed by powering up the overhead wires so it can run on its own.

Few projects have been so controversial:

Supporters say the trolley will bring in visitors and be a boon for businesses. They also say the trolley is being built for significantly less than streetcar lines in other cities, even though it surpassed its initial $43 million estimate, in part because of street paving and landscaping costs.

“The fixed-track nature does attract investment,” Edwards said, citing as an example a new 14-story, $66 million apartment building in the Loop at 6105 Delmar Boulevard, where the trolley will run.

Critics say that the trolley duplicates current mass transit — a MetroLink line runs between the Forest Park and Delmar stations — and that the project’s cost is too high. Businesses were hurt by construction, spurring a forgivable loans program.

Trolley opponents filed in 2015 a lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court seeking to block the trolley. The suit contends the trolley will go beyond its authorized boundaries. No ruling has been issued. (Post-Dispatch)

Since the project is nearing the ribbon cutting I thought it would be good to see where readers side:

The poll will close at 8pm, I’ll share my thoughts on Wednesday. This poll will be monitored for the 12-hour duration — if it appears a campaign is underway to sway the results either way it’ll be shut down early.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Buy New/Nearly New Vehicles

February 8, 2017 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Readers Buy New/Nearly New Vehicles
The Chicago Auto Show is held at McCormick Place

Rarely am I surprised by by poll results, but it happened Sunday. Nearly three-fourths of readers that resounded to the non-scientific Sunday Poll indicated their new vehicle will be new or nearly new.

Q: Your next vehicle purchase will be how old:

  • Brand new 16 [47.06%]
  • Nearly new, possibly certified pre-owned 9 [26.47%]
  • Used 4 [11.76%]
  • Well used 1 [2.94%]
  • N/A — won’t be buying a car 3 [8.82%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 2.94% [2.94%]

I’ve had many cars in the last 34 years — most used or well used. I have had two new cars — both costly mistakes. The best financial times were when I was car-free, but that’s not an option with my husband’s job.

Our last payment on our 2007 Honda Civic will be in early October, we’ll be actively shopping for a replacement then.   The Civic was 7 years old and had 90k on the odometer — just under the 100k our credit union would finance.

Because we want a fairly loaded midsize sedan new is beyond our budget — plus I don’t like owing more on a car that its resale value. Depreciation on a new car is steep. Many people now finance them for 6 years!

Now, if you buy a new car and keep it 10 years depreciation isn’t really an issue. What you can’t control is the other driver that totals your car and their insurance paying you thousands less than what you still owe on it, Sure, their are insurance plans that will replace your car but you pay more for that coverage — increasing your cost of ownership.

Later this year we will be looking at late model cars:

  1. Hyundai Sonata Limited w/Tech Package (2015)
  2. Honda Accord EX-L or Touring — 4 cylinder (2013-2015)

Why these two? As I explained last year, these are the two most affordable cars with memory seat — the Sonata also has memory mirrors.

We’ll potentially spend twice as much as we spent on our current car, but will be much newer with significantly fewer miles. Because we’ll be financing it for longer we’ll keep it longer.

Still, the appeal of a new car is strong. We’re heading to Chicago today for two days of auto show media events — the Chicago Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday February 11th, closing on Monday February 20th. Will be posting to Twitter & Facebook starting tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

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