Bypassing Downtown by Bus
Today, I tried what others have suggested: riding the #30 Soulard and transferring to the #16 City Limits for my commute from Benton Park West to WashU.
This worked reasonably well, although mainly because I had left the house about 20 minutes earlier than usual.
I got out the door about 7:27 AM, and headed up to Gravois and Arsenal. I may have just missed the 7:35 AM #10 Gravois; so I thought I try this alternate route via Arsenal. I walked back east one block to Arsenal and Nebraska; I saw the eastbound #30 Soulard pass, so I headed to the westbound stop, figuring it would be coming through pretty soon. Indeed, as I walked east on Arsenal I could already see the westbound bus coming toward me, at about Jefferson and Arsenal.
The bus arrived at my stop about 7:40; I rode it straight down Arsenal, hitting a little traffic congestion at Arsenal and McCausland, and on McCausland from Arsenal to Southwest, where the bus turns again to head into Maplewood.
I got off at Southwest and Bellevue about 8:02 - the very time the northbound #16 City Limits was scheduled to leave Sutton Loop, several blocks west. So, I had plenty of time to walk up Bellevue 1 block, cross Manchester, and get to the bus stop. I had so much time, I decided to walk up another short block on Bellevue, to the northbound stop at Bellevue and Lyndover.
I ended up waiting about 8 minutes, since the bus was running late. Meanwhile, a whole crew of kids waiting for a Maplewood-Richmond Heights school bus came to the same corner; their bus showed up at the exact same time as the #16, which made things a little congested. Anyway, the #16 City Limits zipped on up Bellevue, except for some minor congestion near the westbound I-64/US 40 onramp, to Clayton. Then it turned onto Clayton, still running about 6 minutes behind, and onto Skinker. I got off on Skinker just north of Forsyth about 8:22.
So, I made it onto the periphery of campus with plenty of time to spare. It still took probably 15 minutes to get all the way to my destination, far into the interior of campus and closer to the Big Bend side of Hilltop.
However, if I was running my usual schedule, I would probably have not gotten to that location until about 8:52, or maybe 8:45 if the #16 was actually on schedule.
In my experience, the #16 is often quite late, in both directions. Meanwhile, both the #16 and the #30 only run about every 30 minutes; not exactly ideal if you miss one and then end up being 30 minutes or more late to your destination.
All in all, this worked ok, but I still prefer riding MetroLink every chance I get.