Ray Friem, Executive Director of Metro Transit, here. As some of you are probably aware, regional leadership and their respective law enforcement officials are forming a task force over the issue of security on the MetroLink system.
Local law enforcement officials are committed to improving security conditions on the system and are forming a joint command structure between the three largest law enforcement providers, St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department to provide seamless security for MetroLink riders.
We are grateful that our regional leaders and law enforcement partners are committed to improving the safety on MetroLink and we look forward to working with them to implement a regional solution to the safety and security needs of the Metro transit system.
The plan is still being finalized, and as such, we cannot comment further on security issues today. We will make more information available regarding implementation of the new security plan when it is approved for us to share. Thank you for your interest in the system. In the meantime, we are happy to take your other transit questions.
Richard, at this time, Metro does not plan to return the routing of the #1 Gold to its former routing on Euclid. There is considerable difficulty obtaining space for bus stops, and the narrow streets and heavy traffic make bus operations difficult. Instead, Metro is providing service on Taylor.
Metro recently launched a project called Metro Reimagined, which will include the exploration of many different alternatives for MetroBus service. Through this work, Metro, our partners, and the public will explore transit options, which may include adjusting route frequency and spacing; and service types which such as local service, limited service, express service, priority routes, demand responsive service, or hybrid mobility-on-demand / fixed-route service (some other cities are experimenting with partnerships with firms like Uber and Lyft). We are also pursuing new vehicle types including electric vehicles, and this analysis is intended to help identify likely routes or markets that may merit a different vehicle than Metro currently operates.
We anticipate that any service enhancements or adjustments must be supported by the region’s existing transit operating resources, so we do not anticipate a net increase in service level across the system.
Many non-profit organizations purchase Metro tickets and passes on behalf of their clients, however I am not aware of a charitable organization whose mission is primarily the provision of transit passes for low-income individuals or families. The United Way of Greater St. Louis is an excellent resource for assistance with many different services, and can be reached by calling 211.
Yes, you will soon have access to smart cards for Metro fare payment. Metro has already released smart cards to test groups, and at this time we are working with our hardware and software vendors to improve the system before we begin transitioning our paper and magnetic strip cards to smart cards later this year. Stay tuned for details.
The respective Police Departments assign, supervise and account for their officers that work on the transit system.
Regarding checking fares across MetroLink: Since 2015, only the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department can write fare evasion summons on the Metro transit system in Missouri. Neither Metro Public Safety officers nor contracted security officers currently have the authority to write summons enforced by the courts. At this time, in Missouri, we depend on the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to issue enforceable summons. Metro Public Safety personnel continues to write summons in St. Clair County.
The Shrewsbury MetroLink Station is scheduled for asphalt pavement patching by the end of this June. At this time, we do not have striping scheduled.
Public safety is not the only reason for loss of transit ridership. Transit ridership around the country is down, except in those systems that are expanding services. However, we do expect a ridership gain as the security issues are addressed.