Metro often receives requests for free fares for events including election days, special groups, individuals and families in need. We are in the process of exploring changes to our fare policies and structure, and any decisions regarding promotional fares will come out of that discussion. Passenger fares comprise an important source of funds required to sustain the operation of the Metro transit system, and accordingly we must be judicious regarding the offering of free and discount transit fares.
Cell phones and other mobile devices are ubiquitous across society and provide an array of information and communication options people wish to access, including during their transit trip. While cell phone use is prohibited for Metro employees who are operating a bus, train or van, we do not plan to prohibit cell phone use for Metro customers. Some transit agencies have deployed public information campaigns that remind customers to use discretion in the content and volume of their calls, and this is an idea we will raise with our Marketing team. In the event you experience behavior that is profane, threatening, or otherwise a nuisance, I encourage you to contact Metro Public Safety at 314-982-6873, or report this behavior to a Metro operator or Public Safety employee. You may find that when riding near the operator on a bus or train (in the front car), you may be less likely to experience this nuisance behavior.
It is our understanding that East-West Gateway Council of Governments intends to issue a request for proposals for a security review across the Metro Transit System, however the scope and level of effort for this work, and any pilot station barriers, is still being defined.
Thank you for your interest in the Gateway Card “smart card” fare payment program. We are continuing to move through the project implementation process, including testing customer-facing applications so that we are confident we are delivering a quality product. Testing of our more advanced components, like the Gateway Card Online Store, will progress heavily through the end of the year. In early 2018, we’ll assess how the entire system is performing across the board. If we’ve met our requirements for delivering the best possible smart card system, we’ll slowly begin rollout Gateway Cards in 2018.
The helicopter landing you referenced was a contractor of Ameren UE that is performing overhead line maintenance.
Metro’s fare policy is that all MetroLink customers must possess a valid ticket, pass or transfer. Violators are subject to removal from the transit system and citation for this violation. However, Metro fare inspectors may occasionally issue a courtesy warning to a customer who is not in possession of a valid fare. It is likely that the fare inspector’s intention in this instance was to allow the customer passage on their journey to work, rather than removing them from the train and awaiting law enforcement, which can be a lengthy delay. This is not standard practice.
MetroBus vehicles are a regional resource providing public transit, and sometimes the region calls on this resource for varied transit or public safety purposes. For example, when needed, Metro buses are used as cooling stations during extremely dangerous temperatures at major regional events such as Fair Saint Louis. We are also called upon to provide buses to evacuate senior centers and nursing homes in the event of power outages, fires, flooding, tornadoes or other regional emergencies. We have even been called upon to provide temporary temperature-controlled shelter for animals when a downtown shelter lost its power.
Responding to requests from emergency responders is not new. As far as we know, the practice dates back to 1963 when Bi-State Development established a public transit system for the bi-state region. The Executive Director for Metro Transit ultimately has responsibility to review such requests, ensure that regular MetroBus service is not impacted and support the public safety needs of the region in any way possible. This practice is also consistent with the rules and regulations of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
Regular service is not impacted by fulfilling these requests, which are supported by Metro’s regular MetroBus fleet, not special vehicles. Employee communication and assignment of shifts, wages and operator scheduling for these services are no different than when we are providing public transit service in non-emergency situations.
When Gateway Card is introduced, the array of available pass products will change slightly. The 30-day pass, which is currently purchased from ticket vending machines, will be replaced by a monthly calendar pass (i.e. a pass would be valid for the entire calendar month of November). The process of issuing and validating Gateway Cards will differ slightly from today’s paper tickets, and as such these change will ensure that passes are only available for use for a predetermined period.
Metro provides automated announcements aboard MetroBus via technology called automatic vehicle location (AVL). Announcements are pre-programmed by location, and are played when the vehicle reaches the determined stop. MetroLink trains are equipped with a different type of vehicle location program, and as such automated announcements are not currently possible. Metro is working to pursue the deployment of AVL across our MetroLink system. We are currently in the process of defining the full scope of this project, and pursuing funds for its implementation. In the meantime, I will share your feedback regarding the difficulty of hearing these announcements with our MetroLink operations team.
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