Talk to Metro about buses and MetroLink

Ask them anything about bus and train schedules, new technology, fares and more in our monthly chat with the Metro experts. Join them on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at noon to get answers to all your questions about how to get around the St. Louis area.

  • Good afternoon, St. Louis. We’ve been hard at work the past few weeks, introducing new programs that’ll enhance your transit experience. Last week, we launched Links 2 Life, a new mobile health screening program that’ll enhance access to health care services. We also opened The Link Market, a kiosk that’ll provide healthy food staples at the North Hanley and Wellston Transit Centers. There are lots of other projects in the pipeline we’re working on. In the meantime, let’s get to your transit questions.
  • Drew,

    The East-West Gateway Council of Governments, in partnership with the City of St. Louis, Metro and others, is leading a conceptual design study focused on the planned Northside-Southside corridor. The purpose of this work is to continue defining a light rail project for this corridor, including a conceptual design; station locations; operating plan; capital and operating costs; and opportunities for funding, construction sequencing, etc. The end product, which will be complete in 2018, will help regional decision makers determine when and how to pursue transit investment in this corridor. Stay connected to the project via their website.
  • Can you provide us an update on the Northside-Southside MetroLink expansion?
  • What changes are coming to the Central West End MetroLink Station?
  • Sally Sue,

    Metro is working with our partners including BJC, Washington University, Cortex and others to design, and soon construct, improvements to the Central West End MetroLink Station. This work is being supported in part by a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)-funded program that is also helping to support construction of the Cortex MetroLink Station and an adjacent multi-use path.

    The Central West End Station project will include an extension of the platform to the east. This station is Metro’s busiest MetroLink station, and is served by a single platform. Current passenger volumes and anticipated growth in passengers prompted Metro and our partners to pursue additional platform capacity. In addition to the platform extension, Metro is working with our partners to design further enhancements to the station. These options are in preliminary design at this time. In the coming months we anticipate finalizing these designs, along with a timeframe for implementation.

    There will be a time in 2018 when access to the Central West End MetroLink Station is closed from the adjoining MetroBus Transit Center due to this construction activity. During that time, buses will be re-routed. Details will be released in advance of this construction activity, which will follow the grand opening of the Cortex MetroLink Station.
  • Why does Metro prohibit firearms on trains, buses?
  • Ron,

    The prohibition of firearms on transit has long been a common practice across the industry, with few exceptions. The prohibition on firearms on the Metro transit system was incorporated into original 1950 Bi-State Compact which was ratified by both Missouri and Illinois and further adopted by the federal government to establish the Bi-State Development Agency, Metro’s parent company.
  • What would you consider our peer cities in terms of transit options? And why?
  • Bruce,

    Metro’s peer group of transit properties are typically defined by type of service offered (for example, bus, light rail, paratransit, heavy rail, etc.); fleet size; regional population; and population density. Each major metropolitan area and transit system has unique characteristics, but the peer group Metro relies on for benchmarking often includes Denver, CO; Buffalo, NY; Cleveland, OH; Atlanta, GA; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Pittsburgh, PA; Sacramento, CA; San Jose, CA; Phoenix, AZ; and Portland, OR.
  • Does the planning department take the bus on a regular basis? If not, shouldn't that be a requirement?
  • Barb,

    Yes. Most members of our Planning team regularly utilize MetroBus, MetroLink, and Madison County Transit.
  • Is there any talk of expanding the Metro Link to St. Charles?
  • Sarah,

    Expansion of any type transit service in St. Charles County, including bus, light rail, or another mode of service, would be led and funded by St. Charles County. Currently St. Charles County is included within the Bi-State Compact that governs Metro Transit, but has opted not to be part of the Metro transit system. At this time, there are not active conversations happening amongst regional leadership about expanding light rail into St. Charles County, however these conversations could be reconvened at any time.
  • What is the cost to add additional frequency to a particular bus line?
  • Bus Rider,

    The cost of adding frequency to a bus route is dependent on the length (miles) and cycle time (time) of each trip on that route, and whether the additional service represents a shift in service or an introduction of new service. In the instance of a “shift” in service, we use a “marginal” cost rate for each mile and hour of service. In this instance, we assume that Metro already employees the requisite personnel (namely operators and mechanics), and owns the equipment (buses). If we are planning an expansion of service that requires additional vehicles and personnel, the cost is calculated at a higher rate per mile and hour of service.

    This may be best illustrated by an example. Please note that for our purposes this afternoon these are rough calculations and not an actual cost estimate:

    The #74 Florissant, which operates from Civic Center Transit Center in the City of St. Louis to North County Transit Center in St. Louis County, operates 83 trips each weekday. If we shifted resources from elsewhere in the transit system to increase frequency by 25% on this route (on weekdays only), the marginal cost of this service addition would be about $417,000 per year. If we wanted to retain service everywhere else in the system and add 25% more trips to the #74 Florissant on weekdays only, the annual cost would be about $712,000 per year.

    This is a high-level example of the calculations Metro personnel work through when making decisions about service allocation, which begins with an understanding of resources available to support service.
  • I used the website to report (twice) an issue with the 5:05 47 Northbound bus leaving early and causing passengers from both east and westbound trains and one of the express buses to run for the bus. He has been leaving at 5:03 and it cuts the time short for passengers to make the connection. I did not get a response either time
  • Jean,

    Thank you for sharing your feedback regarding your connection and customer service experience. I’d like to address both here. I presume the connection you reference is between the weekday northbound 5:05pm #47 Clayton-NCTC and the Blue Line MetroLink at Clayton Station (please let me know if this is incorrect). I will share your feedback with both our scheduling department, and the operating garage that supervises that service so that we can verify whether the trips are departing as scheduled, and take action accordingly.

    I am disappointed that you have not received a response to your online contact, and will ask our Customer Service team to investigate. If you prefer, you may reach Customer Service by e-mail at customerservice@metrostlouis.org, or by phone at 314-982-1406.
  • I couldn't finish my message. Nobody responded to my messages on 11/7 and 11/29. 1st the bus shouldn't leave earlier than the route chart, and 2nd shouldn't someone respond to the complaint? Thanks.
  • Aligo,

    Thank you for choosing Metro, and I am so pleased to learn that you are happy with the new Civic Center Transit Center. We are proud of this project, and eager to continue working to elevate the experience of our customers.
  • am a ten year old transit rider. want to show my appreciation to metro team for redesigning civic center transit center and all amenities. it means a lot to passengers. keep up the good work!
  • Will service ever become more frequent?
  • Ronald,

    We understand that greater service frequency is a very high priority for many Metro customers. Additional service frequency can be obtained by increasing the available funding for transit in our region, or by shifting resources within the system (you may be interested in the response to “Bus Rider” below).

    Metro and our partners are currently conducting a thorough examination of the Missouri MetroBus system. This project, called Metro Reimagined, is intended to create a transit network plan for St. Louis that best aligns our service with customer needs and market demands. The result of this effort will be a framework of phased improvements to the MetroBus system that can be implemented within our current budget, with suggestions for enhancement should resources become available.

    I encourage you to become involved in this project, and we’ll be coming back out to our customers and the public in early 2018 with suggestions for your consideration.
  • Wouldn't it be cheaper to build the metrolink (train) routes to be used by buses instead of trains. Have the same routes but put buses on them.
  • Ray,

    The choice of transit service type (bus, bus rapid transit, light rail, heavy rail, micro transit, etc.) is a complicated one that is often based on market utility; cost effectiveness; available local/state/federal resources; public and political will; and economic development and mobility goals. Here is a snapshot of some of those considerations facing communities choosing between transit options:

    The cost of constructing light rail (constructing track and stations, adding utilities, purchasing vehicles, etc.) is greater than the cost of purchasing buses and associated infrastructure (we refer to this as the “capital” portion of service cost). The cost of operating light rail service can be lower per passenger than bus, especially in very high ridership corridors because the primary costs, including personnel and energy, are spread across more passengers.

    The benefits of different types of transit are also not the same. Bus service is flexible and scalable- we can use buses to respond quickly to changes in demand including new destinations, etc. Rail service is fixed- we can’t change it easily, but customers do find that rail service is typically more reliable- it doesn’t get stuck in traffic, and it runs on a very predictable schedule to predetermined stations.

    Transit that operates on a “fixed guideway” like rail service can generate economic development within the vicinity of transit stations because the accessibility offered by the stations increases the attractiveness of that site(s). The same isn’t typically true of bus service, except in very high frequency corridors.

    Ultimately, decision makers consider an array of factors including those described here for making decisions about whether, and what type, of transit to offer in each market or corridor.
  • Hey um when u gonna build that new metrolink line.
  • Ljboolj,

    Please see the response to Drew and Sarah below regarding light rail expansion in the City of St. Louis and St. Charles County. Within St. Louis County, the region has identified several different options for light rail service expansion. Regional partners including St. Louis County, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Metro and others will soon embark on a feasibility study that evaluates the constructability, costs and benefits of a few different light rail corridors in St. Louis County. The results of this work, as well as the ongoing Northside-Southside Conceptual Design Study, will help regional leadership determine an implementation strategy for pursuing light rail expansion. With this priority or plan in place, the region can begin to pursue federal funding for construction.
  • Charles,

    I appreciate your enthusiasm and your desire to promote transit in the St. Louis region. As an individual you can talk with your friends and associates about the benefits of transit, and help them identify transit options that would work for their trips. At your workplace, you can encourage your leadership or Human Resources team to explore Metro’s Commuter Advantage Program, which saves employees and employers money by purchasing transit passes with pre-tax dollars. This is a great incentive for individuals to try transit, and is a worthwhile (and cost saving!) employee benefit. You may also consider becoming involved with Citizens for Modern Transit, a transit advocacy organization dedicating to promoting transit right here in St. Louis.
  • How can people assist Metro; with helping to increase ridership based on their employment and just encouraging people to ride in stead of taking a car occupied by one person?
  • Thank you for a lively chat this afternoon St. Louis! Remember, you can always reach out to us throughout the month via Twitter or Facebook or by contacting our Customer Service department. From all of us at Metro, have a fun and safe holiday season. We'll see you in January.
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