Talk to Metro about buses and MetroLink

What improvements are being done on MetroLink? Can you catch a bus from here to there? Metro can answer all your questions in its monthly chat. Join the experts at noon on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

  • Good afternoon, St. Louis! It's been a busy spring at Metro. We celebrated the opening of the North County Transit Center on March 14, and last month we were pleased to break ground on the reconstruction of the Civic Center Transit Center. We look forward to carrying Cardninal's fans to baseball games throughout the season, and Blues fans through the post season. We look forward to your questions today.
  • The DOWNTOWN TROLLEY is a major help for the tourist. The wrapped buses are very recognizable. Metro has five wrapped buses and the schedule only requires four on the route. Why, then, do I see generic Metro paint schemes on the buses working the Downtown Trolley route?
  • Bus Rider,
    I’m pleased to learn that you appreciate the distinct appearance of buses and bus stops service by the #99 Downtown Trolley. Over the years, Metro has partnered with the community including local businesses to create this route and its distinct brand. On March 14, the #99 Downtown Trolley was modified to include additional service on Market Street, Ewing and Spruce Streets. This modification was designed to accommodate the closure of the Civic Center Transit Center during reconstruction, and resulted in two additional weekday runs. At this time, we do not have enough buses with the distinguished #99 Downtown Trolley wrap to assign wrapped buses (plus a spare) to this route. At this time, we are evaluating the performance of this newly-designed route to determine how it will operate once the Civic Center Transit Center re-opens in 2017. As we reach a decision, we may need to wrap additional buses. In the interim, the cost associated with wrapping the vehicles is likely not warranted for what is, at least for now, temporary weekday-only service.
  • I know there's been talk about North-South MetroLink, but are there updates to BRT? Isn't that project further along than MetroLink expansion?
  • Transit Fan,
    Thanks for your interest in expanding the Metro transit system. You are correct, there is an active conversation regarding pursuing further planning and design of a Northside-Southside MetroLink expansion, and the most recent conversation centers around furthering the conceptual design of this project. The region also has a conceptual design for two bus rapid transit (BRT) projects. Any of these BRT or light rail projects would need to go through final planning and design before the region could apply for federal funds to construct the project, so they’re in fairly similar stages. Construction time and funding is really the key differentiator; BRT has a lower capital component and thus requires less time to fund and construct.
  • #90 is suffering from the traffic congestion and single lane transition from all the construction happening. Any thoughts on how Metro can alleviate the bus schedule digressions?
  • Oligo,
    The #90 Hampton route does operate through segments of episodic congestion due to construction and seasonal activities. We are routing around Forest Park via Oakland and Skinker when the #03 Forest Park Trolley is operable so that we can adhere more closely to our published schedule. We really cannot re-route around Loop Trolley Construction on DeBaliviere Avenue, because there are no viable alternatives that would still allow us to serve Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink Station. The good news is that this construction is temporary, and we anticipate the disruption in this corridor to end by fall.
  • I must say that I'm extremely concerned by the declining farebox recovery ratio. In particular, I recall MetroLink used to hover near 30%; now it may decline to only 20%?
  • Herbie,
    Fare box recovery is a function of fares collected against cost. Metro has performed well over the years at controlling costs. Go to this website to see how your St. Louis Transit system is viewed nationally in that area: < . cityobservatory.org

    The other element is ridership and fares collected, and in that area there has been some decline. This is a function of two basic issues, lower overall ridership, and lower average fare as people who are riders are moving over to discounted fare media such as multi-ride passes.
    We are aware of the fare box recovery statistic, but that isn’t an overarching element in our system. It would be easy to manage to fare box recovery by simply running only the routes that produce higher ridership. That is not the mission we have been given by the community. We have been asked to connect 90% of the people to 90% of the regional jobs, and as wide as possible a net for the disabled community in the region. To do this we design the system with the goal of providing as large a footprint as possible. We increase the frequency of service on those routes that generate higher levels of ridership. Operating buses on lower use routes in areas of the community with lower density denies the system fare box recovery opportunities, but ensures that majority of the communities within our service area remain accessible to each other through transit.
  • Why don't we have electric buses yet?
  • Bus Buddy,
    Metro is continuing to evaluate different electric buses and their associated technologies, and we are looking for a bus that can operate at a range of 200 miles in any temperature. This targeted range would allow Metro to introduce electric vehicles as our service is currently designed, without adding additional “deadhead” trips to and from the facility throughout the day for recharging. This is a critical feature for maintaining cost-effective service. Once the technology meets our needs, the precise process and timeline will depend on the funding source we use to purchase these buses and the production time from the manufacturer. Metro relies on federal formula and competitive grant programs to support the majority of bus cost purchases. Stay tuned...
  • This week is finals week and I rely on metro. Yesterday happened to be one of those days when everything went against me. Red line @ Union stn was late by 3 minutes. Operator change at makeshift stop was over a minute and eventually I missed my bus connection. What could be improved in terms of getting back to schedule from unforeseen circumstances.
  • Oligo,
    I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced this week. Metro understands that every minute counts for our customers and we endeavor to create the most efficient and reliable schedules we can throughout the system, which includes many connections. We are currently preparing for a MetroLink schedule change in August that will allow us to respond to current operational conditions, as well as the opening of both tracks on the Eads Bridge when that project is completed this summer. Apart from the new schedule, on occasion there are disruptions outside of our control due to construction or passenger events.
  • When will the bicycle decals be installed at ALL stations? It would help new bikers a lot.
  • Cyclist Guy,
    I’m glad to hear that you appreciate the bicycle tiles currently being demonstrated at Belleville, Central West End and Brentwood I-64 MetroLink Stations. These tiles were part of a one-year demonstration project, and we have found the material to be durable and the content informative. We are now in the process of designing a project and procurement to purchase tiles for the remaining stations, as well as more visible tactile warning tiles to complete all 37 MetroLink Stations. We don’t yet have a timeline for completion of this project because we are seeking funding, but know that it is on the way.
  • Thank you, St. Louis for taking the time to chat with us today. We’ll be back next month, and are always available at customerservice@metrostlouis.org; metrostlouis.org; at 314-982-1406 or on Facebook or Twitter.
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