Tuesday, May 02, 2006

MayorSlay.com Podcast, and Thoughts on Downtown Shuttles

MayorSlay.com Podcast, and Thoughts on Downtown Shuttles

So, yes, I am the featured commentator on the latest Podcast on MayorSlay.com, posted late yesterday.

I haven't listened to it yet, but it was sort of a fun interview I did last Thursday, on the subject of.... riding the bus!

During the interview, I mentioned how annoying it is that Metro charges $3.25 for a one-way MetroLink ticket purchased at either of the Lambert Airport stations.

Indeed, I suggested economy-minded visitors should consider walking through the short-term parking garage (or you can catch the "Terminal Shuttle" at main terminal lower-level exit MT-12) to the Bus Port located at the entrance to the intermediate parking lot, which is served by the #49 Lindbergh connecting with MetroLink at North Hanley, so even with the transfer it's still only $2.00 one-way; and by the #66 Brentwood-Airport which goes directly to downtown Clayton if they happen to be staying in that vicinity.

Another pet peeve of mine - this one I forgot to mention during the interview - is all the gigantic Vandalia Bus Lines motorcoaches that are used as shuttles mostly within downtown for major conventions and shows at America's Center.

I think it is ridiculous to use such large, over-the-road style vehicles, for making loops to shuttle visitors from hotel to convention center.

If you recall, about four years ago, national bike/ped activist Susie Stephens was killed by one of these massive motorcoaches while crossing 4th Street in front of the Adam's Mark Hotel. The driver was charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian, a misdemeanor.

Vandalia and many other firms around town own and operate much smaller, 24-passenger shuttle buses that are much more manuverable in the urban environment.

The CVC and its America's Center management should prohibit tour buses from being used to shuttle people around within the downtown area for their events, and prohibit them from entering the America's Center pseudo-driveway off Washington, whose configuration is confusing and dangerous enough for pedestrians as it is, without adding those massive tour buses to the mix.

I acknowledge that shuttles need to be provided; after all, I can't imagine walking all the way from, say, the Sheraton on 14th Street or the Millennium on 4th Street during the rain, snow, or in heels! Since at a convention you're expected to dress professionally in many cases, the shuttles are valuable; not to mention for persons with disabilities, many of whom cannot be accommodated on the motor coaches anyway.

But the shuttles should be just that - low-floor shuttles, like those used routinely in and around local college campuses, medical centers, and the airport.

Anyway, I think this change would do a lot to make conventions in downtown St. Louis more hospitable to pedestrians, both visitors and locals.


Anonymous said...

Since many Metro buses now loop in downtown, and even more routes cover the 4th/Broadway to Washington "L", why can't visitors hope on any MetroBus between their hotel and Convention Center? Heck, for your extreme Sheraton to Convention Center example, there is an even more user-friendly solution called MetroLink.

My personal pet peeve is that recent hotel renovations to the former Marriott Pavillion, now Hilton at the Ballpark have displaced the Broadway-Market bus stop that had been there for years. Wall still has a shelter for the advertising income, but sadly since the outsourcing of shelters, this shelter like some others scattered about town is deceivingly not a bus stop. And Metro wonders why they have a poor public perception?!

Metro's excuse for relocating the stop is that the curbing in front of the remaining shelter is not long enough to safely pick up passengers. The Hilton could relocate the stop and/or shelter to in-between the new drop-off entrance and exit, but God forbid you have those undesirable bus patrons hanging outside your business.

urban Review said...

I haven't listened to the podcast yet but I will. Yes, the price of MetroLink tickets at the airport is high. I've got a friend coming in a few weeks so I am mailing him a ticket to use.

Thank you for bringing up the Vandalia bus line! I've been sitting at The Gelateria at 14th & Washington and seeing bus after bus go West on Washington. Most have only a handful of people. What a waste.