Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Will Cross County Save WashU Money?

Will Cross County Save WashU Money?

Back when the now infamous Cross County MetroLink was being planned, some groused that one of the reasons the Forest Park Parkway route was chosen over the I-64/US 40 route was to save Washington University money on shuttle service.

But I think that's doubtful. The four-route shuttle system operated by the university has a number of key differences from the MetroLink service expected to open sometime in October 2006:

  • It's free, at least for WashU students, faculty and staff, and community residents with a pass issued by the WashU Transportation office.

  • The center of its universe is Mallinckrodt Center, the student center on Forsyth where Edison Theatre is located. That's about a 10-minute walk from the locations of either MetroLink station being built, on Big Bend and on Skinker.

  • The Gold Line route primarily serves the apartment districts north of the existing MetroLink line in the Central West End, terminating at the Medical School. It already parallels MetroLink; and indeed, the volume of 'transfers' from the shuttle to MetroLink at Forest Park station currently isn't especially high. Since the shuttle rarely lays over at the bus stop on Pershing at DeBaliviere shared with the #93 Lindell, I often miss it anyway and just take the #58 Clayton-Ballas bus.

  • The Red Line route serves several functions. It connects the "South 40" residence hall district with the main Hilltop campus and it connects the DeMun neighborhood, Richmond Center Schnucks, and the Clayton/Hanley apartment district with Hilltop campus. After 1:35 PM or so, it also provides direct service from those student-residential areas to Saint Louis Galleria and the shopping centers in Brentwood and Maplewood south of I-64. While MetroLink will serve this area, it will not be as direct as the Red Line connection from the campus for resident students. The Galleria MetroLink stop will in fact be on the opposite side of I-170; and there will be no stop close to the Maplewood Commons Axis-of-Evil Shopping Center.

  • The Green Line connects the campus with The Delmar Loop and the Parkview Gardens apartment area to the north of Delmar.

  • The new Blue Line also serves The Loop and Parkview Gardens, as well as the North Campus on Rosedale, the University City Square Schnucks, residential areas in U City along Midland from Vernon to Delmar, and the West Campus in Clayton. Both the Green Line and the Blue Line serve the University City Children's Center on Vernon just east of Kingsland.

    So, although there's some overlap with the planned MetroLink route, it's probably not enough to cut the WashU shuttle system dramatically.
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    MetroLink lines serve UMSL, SWIC, WashU, and maybe someday SIUE, because universities are major trip generators, serving both as employment/activity centers as well as a common origin/destination for transit-dependents (folks without cars).

    Ultimately, however, the new extension goes to Clayton by way of WashU to tie into the existing line and serve our region's second employment center by way of a major university campus.

    Shrewsbury's station will be where it is for where the rail line can cross I-44, just as Grand is where it is for the rail line crossing Grand. But in both of these cases, it would have been nice to be closer to Webster or SLU/Harris Stowe, but such added cost seemed to outweigh the possible benefits.