Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Metro Redefined

Metro Redefined

This morning on the bus I picked up a huge brochure detailing the changes planned for the MetroBus system when Cross County MetroLink opens in fall 2006.

Damn near every Missouri bus route is supposed to be changed, and service expanded in some areas, under the plan called Metro Redefined 2006.

This time around, a whole bunch of public hearings are scheduled for January 2006, with the final summary presentation at Metro headquarters on Laclede's Landing on February 2, 2006.

Other locations of public hearings in the City of St. Louis include:

St. Louis City Hall
1200 Market St
St. Louis, MO 63103
11 a.m. - 3p.m

Salvation Army
2740 Arsenal St
St. Louis, MO 63118
4 - 8 p.m.

MetroRide Store
701 Washington Blvd
(at Convention Center)
St. Louis, MO 63101
9 a.m. - 1p.m.

Washington University Medical Center Eric P. Newman Education Center (EPNEC)
320 S. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110
10 a.m. - 2p.m

South City YMCA
Meeting Rm A & B
3150 Sublette Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63139
10 a.m. - 2p.m.

Elsewhere in the region, sessions will be held in East St. Louis, Jennings, Wellston, Kirkwood, Mehlville, Ellisville, Maplewood, Clayton, and at UMSL, SWIC, and the Ballas Road MetroBus Transfer Center.

I have to give them credit -- they really are trying hard to publicize these changes and get extensive public comment from constituents all across the portions of the region served by public transit.

At least two of the routes proposed seem to contradict my argument last week that Cross County wouldn't save WashU money:

1) The proposed #51 Central West End seems to blatantly replace the WashU Gold Line and part of the Blue Line. The proposed route "will provide bus access to Washington University students connecting them to the Washington University Hilltop Campus and Washington University Medical School" operating every 15 minutes weekdays, every 30 minutes evenings and weekends. Exactly the same route and schedule as the Gold Line. It would also replace the western portion of the #93 Lindell which the Gold Line currently overlaps for several blocks. The #93 route will still exist, but serve a very different corridor. I sure as hell hope WashU will pay for this service, one way or another!

2) The proposed #54 Washington University is even more blatant, named for the school itself. While the northern portions replace parts of the #64 Lucas Hunt and #16 City Limits, the southern portions seem to trace the route of the WashU Red Line and the eastern half of the Blue Line.

I don't necessarily object to WashU cutting its directly-provided shuttle services; I just hope they compensate Metro for this service. Of course, it could instead be that Metro is trying to compete with WashU in these areas; but given that WashU shuttle service is free-of-charge to anyone with a University ID, that seems like a hard price to beat.

Also, I am more than a little annoyed at the proposal to extend express bus service to Jefferson County!

Under the proposal, the existing I-55 Mehlville Express would be extended to the Richardson Road park-ride lot via I-55. A 50-cent surcharge would be included in this fare. That bugs me, because Jefferson County does not pay the transit sales tax! If you want to play, you have to pay. Same goes for St. Charles County and Franklin County. They both had some limited service a few years back; but their votes have not approved a tax levy for public transit.

I definitely plan to attend at least one of the public hearings next month.


Anonymous said...

I generally like the changes. I greatly miss the Southampton Express, but soon, I'll be able to take MetroLink trains every 5 minutes from downtown to the CWE and tranfer either to the greatly changed Lindell or new Macklind to get home.

The Lindenwood now connects with Grand, but its infrequent service makes it too risky of a connection for the commute home. The Macklind will be as infrequent as the Lindenwood, but at least I have Lindell to soon choose from too.

Anyway, it's a huge improvement over now taking the Shaw-Southampton all the way on South City side-streets to/from Downtown, when living near Sublette Park.

Anonymous said...

The Shaw-Southampton was an odd creation of the Shaw-Russell (fka Lafayette) and Southampton. This line will now be broken up into parts of dramatically changed Lindell, Forest Park (fka Clayton-South County; its South County leg now joining Lindell), and Union-Shaw (fka Union-Garden) as well as two new lines, Lafayette Square and Macklind.

Overall, it makes sense to provide variable headways on segments of the former Shaw-Southampton that correspond to its ridership. Lower ridership portions of this southside-winder now have split service on a main line (Lindell) or new service on a limited line (Macklind), while higher ridership portions are now part of multiple lines, or a more frequent, shorter feeder (Lafayette Square).

And many of the changes will offer Southwest City residents a choice between heading towards Shrewsbury (Clayton workers) or the CWE (Downtown workers) for a MetroLink transfer.

Anonymous said...

Those aren't public hearings. No Bi-State commissioners, no microphone, no testimony taken.

At the so-called public hearing, there will be arts & crafts to look at or merely some flyers on a table.

Staffing at the events will range from Bi-State employees pulling an easy gig- sit at tables and do not engage the public, cop an attitude if customers dare interrupt an important conversation about a nail care experience- or more proactive staffers desiring to spread the gospel of proposed changes.

The latter is actually the worse. Pursue a real answer to a question- because it has already been answered with the magic talking point nonanswer, correct Bi-State's misinformation, or persist that some change is not good for you as a customer- you do not know what is good for you, Bi-State is all-knowing, and you will likely get berated by a Bi-State staffer.

If you persist about making your voice heard to commissioners, you will be handed a form with a few lines to write your comments. If you persist on what happens to the written comments, you will be told that staff will go through them.

If you persist about speaking before the commissioners, you will be told you can testify at a Commission meeting. You may or may not be informed that you need to contact Bi-State in advance to get on the agenda. If you go to that meeting, you will find out that minutes after the public testimony, having given public comment all the careful consideration expected by a body that is not accountable to voters or taxpayers, the commissioners vote on whatever was decided before the meeting started.