Mass transit service in St. Louis Missouri has suspended 2,300 of its 9,000 buses and trains. Residents say a move like this can stall a large city.
Imagine New York City's subway system. The subway system has had some changes, since I used it in July of 2008, but it but keeps going, except for a few lines of weekend service being cut. It's state of the art, in a way, and New York thrives from their sub way system.
The difference between a subway and a train, is the trains stay above ground. Subways travel underground, even underwater. When the F subway in New York City arises from under the river, into Queens, and is above ground, it becomes train status.
Keeping the difference between a subway and train status in mind, think of the Metro link as a smaller scale train. Metro link is part of St. Louis' mass transit system. And now the city is cutting 2,300 mass transit lines vital to many residents.
I travel to St. Louis infrequently, due to my job, and spend up to a week and a half at a time in the city. The Metro Link is quick, useful, and inexpensive, cheaper than a taxi, or trying to find a place to park downtown.
It is very difficult if there's a Cardinal's game, to go from anywhere in downtown St. Louis, to around the Gateway Arch area, without some kind of Mass transit, either the Metro link, or the bus. Bush Stadium is in the heart of downtown, near a Kinko's and a Panarea bread Company. It is sandwiched between office buildings. Parking is tough, practically nonexistent.
On the St.Louis today website, it mentions 34,000 residents relying on their mass transit system. St. Louis is spread out, and spacious. Downtown is cramped. The suburbs are not close to downtown in anyway. The residents who use the mass transit system, have come to rely on the bus or train to get them near their jobs.
I have mapped out a common route from the hotel I usually stay in, to the children's hospital where I audit charts.
Start out going WEST on MARKET ST toward N 23RD ST.
2: Turn LEFT onto S JEFFERSON AVE.
3: Merge onto I-64 W/US-40 W.
4: Take the KINGSHIGHWAY NORTH & SOUTH exit, EXIT 36A-B.
5: Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto S KINGSHIGHWAY BLVD.
6: Turn RIGHT onto CHILDREN'S PL.
7: End at 1 Children's Pl Saint Louis, MO 63110-1002
Maybe I'm lazy, but the public transportation system is useful to me. The hotel has valet parking, and personally, I don't care for it.
Here's part of the St. Louis Metro Fare chart. The prices are current. For the whole chart, click here.
Metro Bus Fare $2.00
Metro Bus Fare with Multi-Use Transfer
Metro Link One-Ride Ticket $2.25
Metro Two-Hour Pass $2.75
Metro Two-Hour Pass from Lambert Airport w/transfer $3.75
Metro One-Day Pass (may not be used for Call-A-Ride or special services such as Redbird Express, Rams Express, Muny Express, Fair St. Louis, Gateway International Raceway, special Scott Air Force Base Air Show shuttles, etc.) $7.50
The route I take from the hotel, to the hospital, Mapquest says is 5 minutes, my friend from St. Louis knows otherwise. Every time I drive it, I get caught in traffic, and stay in traffic. So, I decided to grab the bus one day, which was a wonderful thing to do. The fares, you can see above. Infact, it was my co-worker and friend, Laura, who told me to learn the public transportation system, (hey, works in New York as well.)
Laura lives in Bridgeton, MIssouri, which is a suburb of St. Louis. I spoke with her about the Mass Transit cuts, and the general economy of St. Louis. She thinks the transit lines that are cut will be missed. We are familiar with the downtown transit lines.
My Question: "Laura, how are you going to manage, with the transit lines being cut? St. Louis is so hard to get around in."
Her answer: "Rethink my time, and route. I might have my husband take me to the bus stop nearer to St. Louis downtown,that's out of his way. I'd have to walk a few blocks and catch the bus near the stop you take."
Normally, she would bypass having to catch the bus where my stop is. Her husband wouldn't have to drop her off so far in town. If the bus is late, I can grab my car. Laura would not have the choice. The stop is not that safe for a female. The walk is treacherous in the winter.
This is the same feeling that other residents of St.. Louis have. Jay Nixon, governor of Missouri, calls it a bad move for the economy.
This quote explains the general consensus in St. Louis.
When gas went over $2 a gallon and eventually up to $4, I really had a hard time getting enough money for gas to conduct my business. Then, with the last 15 months of recession, I have had a hard time remaining in business and had to take on additional debt. I sure hope Jay Nixon can help me out with my transportation costs. I would like to park my vehicle and take public transportation, subsidized by government funding, to get around town to where I need to go. Please, Jay, help us out with government funding of our transportation. There is no bus service in my town. I am forced to provide my own transportation, which cuts into the money I earn from my work. That is not fair. I shouldn’t have to fund my own transportation, at least not all of it. Please have the State of Missouri fund public transportation for all of us so that we will be united in passing new taxes to fund it for all of us. Thank you for understanding our dilemma, to either pay our own way or to have all to pay our own ways.
St. Louis is a growing city, yes, it has the Budweiser brewery, and the Gateway Arch, but it also has crime, poverty and problems. There's a lot of places one shouldn't walk. The Mass transit lines can safely travel through these areas.
Stanley Coffey is on the night cleaning crew at the Bank of America branch on Broadway and Chestnut Street downtown.
Each evening, he boards the No. 30 Soulard bus at Kingshighway to head to work. The bus takes him east on Arsenal Street, then north on Broadway, stopping right in front of his building.
Starting Monday, the bus will carry Mr. Coffey only as far as Chouteau Street. Henceforth, in fair weather or foul, he'll have to walk nearly a mile before and after his shift.
In this article, it points to the disabled, who are also loosing out on the advantages of the Mass transit system.
This is historic in a very bad way. No other metropolitan public transit system has ever been whacked as deep and as fast.
What's been the community's response? Compared to the weeping and gnashing of teeth that preceded temporary closings of U.S. Highway 40/Interstate 64 for reconstruction, there's been hardly a whisper. That may change as the pain radiates out.
Nearly 40,000 residents of the region use public transportation to commute to work. That's in addition to the students, the elderly and disabled — and their families and caretakers — who depend on the system. 40,000 residents are caught in this struggle. Some may need to change their jobs, some will have to walk further than they do. It will be interesting to view St. Louis from an out-sider position, and see if it's changed the next time I am scheduled to work there.