Metro Redefined --> Fewer Direct Buses to Downtown
A recent press release from Metro transit (PDF) trumpets "4th Consecutive Fiscal Year of a Balanced Budget with No Service Cuts" but also notes that after FY 2007, either service cuts or a tax increase will be necessary.
We've been hearing this message for a while.
It's not like service cuts are anything new to the St. Louis transit system.
Meanwhile, there's Metro Redefined, the now more-or-less completed bus system restructuring plan effective in fall 2006, when Cross County MetroLink finally begins operation.
It seems a number of neighborhoods city and county that currently have direct bus service into downtown St. Louis will be required to transfer to MetroLink instead. This isn't necessarily bad, but this combined with the removal of all express buses from EB Olive Street (morning rush) and WB Locust Street (evening rush) may require longer walk times/distances within downtown for some passengers.
For example, the Shaw neighborhood is currently served by both branches of the #80 Shaw - Southampton. Admittedly, it is a circuitous route that serves the interior of numerous neighborhoods but very few major activity centers, and runs bidirectionally through downtown. It was a merger of the old #99 Shaw-Russell (itself an amalgam of parts of the old #99 Lafayette and #21 Tower Grove) with the old #80 Southampton.
The #80 will be split into parts of five different routes. It seems mostly sensible. The route number will be retained by the new #80 Lafayette Square, a short neighborhood circulator route starting at Civic Center MetroBus Center, then via 14th, Chouteau, and Truman Parkway, to Park and Mississippi. From there it will make a big loop via Park, Grand, Russell, and Mississippi (a street heretofore without bus service in that segment, but also with diagonal parking adjacent to Lafayette Park that would make locating a bus stop difficult).
But in Shaw, the #80 route will be split into parts of two other routes.
The #13 Union-Garden already serves the neighborhood on Tower Grove Avenue. It will be shifted to the east, so that the new #13 Union will, after departing the new CWE MetroBus Center on Taylor, head east on Forest Park, Sarah, Laclede, Vandeventer, Lindell (absorbing part of the current #52 Clayton-South County route), to Grand, south on Grand to connect with MetroLink, then via New Park, Spring, Park, 39th, Shaw, and back onto its current route of Tower Grove, Magnolia, and Thurman to end at Thurman Loop.
The sections of Taylor, Chouteau, and Tower Grove north of Shaw and south of CWE MetroLink through McRee Town and Forest Park Southeast currently served by the #13 will be picked up by the ridiculously long #93 Midtown-South County, which will also feature direct service into the Botanical Garden parking lot eliminated on the #13. It will then continue west on Shaw into The Hill neighborhood.
Also serving Tower Grove through McRee Town and FPSE will be the brand new #59 Shaw-Kirkwood. It will also serve MOBOT directly, then head east on Shaw, to 39th, to Shenandoah, to Thurman, ending at Thurman Loop. Its outer leg will mostly cover parts of other routes that will be eliminated like the #52 along Oakland and Clayton Avenues.
Strangely, Shaw Blvd. between Tower Grove and 39th will be served by both the #13 and the #59 - but in opposite directions. To connect with Grand MetroLink, you'll get the #13 on the south side of Shaw. To connect with CWE MetroLink, you'll get the #59 on the north side of Shaw. The two-block segment of Shaw Blvd. between 39th and Grand will have no bus service at all.
Both routes will end at Thurman Loop; but only the #59 will operate on Shenandoah and 39th through the center of the neighborhood.
No bus service will operate on Magnolia between Tower Grove and Kingshighway, currently served by the #80. Yeah, there aren't many houses there, and most of them are within a short walk of Kingshighway, so I guess that's no big deal.
This restructuring will mean most routes connect with at least one MetroLink station. Many routes will connect with two stations, either on the existing alignment or the Cross County route, or both.
Hopefully, this doesn't confuse too many current riders. The online TripFinder might help with the changes, at least for those who have Internet access.
Otherwise, expect really long waits on the Metro Customer Service phone lines this fall.