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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Metro (St. Louis Transit) Now Has... and effective leadership. Bob Baer (pictured above) has reversed the public relations nightmare of the Larry Salci-era and all of its bungled law suits and expensive, over-budget Metrolink expansions. As a result of Baer's leadership and other restructuring, Metro transit now has all of the things below as well. card machines to make those of us who travel without bills and coins happier. I had a picture, but it's not working. Sorry. You can imagine what they look like though!

...heaters at nearly every Missouri-side Metrolink station. Sorry, no picture...yet.

...a new website interface. They also have started an excellent blog called Next Stop. Beyond that, Metro is on Twitter and Facebook. The agency participates in a bi-weekly live chat on every Wednesday at noon. So keeping up with developments and news with Metro is easier and more fluid than ever. If your questions still aren't answered, Facebook, Tweet, or live chat with them and get a nearly immediate response!

...plans for a new transit plaza at the Grand Metrolink stop (see above).

 Map of the proposed transit network, courtesy of Moving Transit Forward.

...a long range transportation plan, which has been approved by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. The plan calls for an expanded system, including light rail, bus rapid transit, and commuter rail over the next 30 years. The plan is appropriately titled Moving Transit Forward and has its own website.

 Rendering of potential Transit-oriented Development project near Forest Park, via West End Word.

...plans for REAL transit-oriented development! Metro is working with McCormack Baron to develop a mixed use building atop its current parking lot at DeBaliviere and Pershing. The adjacent strip mall may be torn down and incorporated into the development as well. While development has occurred around Metrolink stops, there has not yet been a self-consciously urban transit-oriented development, with the stated goal of appealing to transit users.

A screen capture of Google transit directions.

...Google Transit compatibility. When Google Maps began adding a transit feature, St. Louis was one of the first cities to provide Google with the information needed to place transit-based directions on Google Maps. That's owed to Metro. Another great side story here: Metro initially abandoned its clunky though functional TripFinder feature available on its website in favor of more streamlined Google Maps. When several users complained about not being able to figure out the Google Maps feature, Metro put TripFinder back up and uploaded a video tutorial about how to use Google. That's great customer service if you ask me!

 The Hive, located at the Delmar Metrolink station. Courtesy of Next Stop; photograph by Dan Donovan.

...more art at Metrolink stations. While a controversial expenditure for the cash-strapped agency, art in transit is important for the system. Metro was quick to respond to its critics about why art is crucial to transit...and how it's a requirement for agencies receiving federal funding. I think the art adds a visual punch to transit and makes our transit system look invested and full of character. See the Arts in Transit website here.

...transit schedules available via text message! Note that this is NOT officially provided by Metro, but by a third party company, but's an important feature that improves the whole transit experience.

Metro has been working hard to reverse its image as a poorly run and inefficient agency. All of the above improvements help tremendously to that end.

St. Louis County voters will decide the fate of a one half of one percent sales tax increase dedicated to Metro on April 6, 2010. While I intend to write a longer post explaining my reasons and reservations, I wish to let readers know that this blog endorses Proposition A and asks all St. Louis County voters to support it. Please vote yes on April 6!

The above improvements are only the beginning. An expanded funding source for Metro will only see to it that a system poised for greatness is not instead cast into third class status. What will become of these investments if Proposition A fails? Not just a civic embarrassment, a crippled transit system will hurt our economy and put us well behind peer cities in the enhancement of transportation infrastructure.

Vote "Yea" on A come April 6, 2010, St. Louis County!


Allison said...

What a great post! I'm so happy that you addressed the concerns of regular people who might not have heard about the abundant positive changes Metro has made. We should start linking here when we try to help misinformed folks online understand Metro. :)

Matt M. said...

Thanks Allison! I appreciate the support!

Anonymous said...

Metro really is looking great. Thanks so much for outlining the very real progress Metro has been making recently.

Patrick Shaw said...

Yes! I've kept my mailing address at my parents for a reason (it's not bc I still live there...bc I don't) I thought I could finally change it after the last vote but I was wrong (arg). It'll be different this time! I hope...

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