Talk to Metro about the future of transit in St. Louis

Metro recently released a draft proposal of a new transit plan for the St. Louis region – including more frequent MetroBus service, faster trips and new community mobility options. What routes are changing? How will this impact your commute? Ask the transit experts and let us know what you think about the new service plan during their monthly chat, Wednesday, April 4 at noon.

  • Good afternoon, St. Louis! By now, we hope you’ve heard about Metro Reimagined – our strategy to transform Metro transit so it can better serve the region’s changing transportation needs. We’ve developed a draft transit plan, which includes more frequent MetroBus service, faster trips, new technologies and new community mobility options. Learn more about Metro Reimagined at one of our upcoming public meetings or on our website, and let us know what you think of the new plan. Thanks for joining us today - let’s get those transit questions answered.
  • If I were to go to the grocery store for some Tide detergent, I would look for a box with Tide on it and I would find it. If I were a visitor in Downtown St. Louis and I wanted to ride the DOWNTOWN TROLLEY, I would look for a bus with DOWNTOWN TROLLEY on it, but I would not find it because nowhere on the buses, does DOWNTOWN TROLLEY appear. Why can't we, at least, put 99 DOWNTOWN TROLLEY in the headsign like it was when the service started? It can then flash to the destination like the 174 does.
  • DOWNTOWN RESIDENT, thank you for reaching out to provide feedback on the “head sign” language for the #99 Downtown Trolley. Today, Metro’s head signs display the route number and the destination for that trip. We shifted away from route name some time ago largely in response to customer requests that the head sign provide information about the direction that vehicle is traveling. I understand this may not be intuitive for some customers, and we will reengage in an internal conversation about scrolling between the destination and route name on the head sign. Thank you for your input.
  • Why are you taking bus service off Cherokee Street? Many businesses rely on transit to get to work.
  • John, thank you for your question and feedback about the draft Metro ReImagined plan. The plan presented now is a draft, which means that we are asking for your input on how to improve it, or make it work better for you before we adopt a final plan. I encourage you and our other viewers to visit the project website to review and comment on the draft plan, if you have not done so already.
     
    As background for our audience that may be unfamiliar with this proposed plan, Metro ReImagined is a vision for public mobility in the St. Louis region that will provide new and existing customers with an important alternative to the norm. By strategically matching mobility services to markets, we’re striving to design a system that works for everyone, and we’re building a network that will offer faster service, reduce wait times, and make connections more reliable. Metro ReImagined delivers more frequent bus service; more direct routes; and service options that are designed to meet the needs of the many unique markets across the St. Louis region, like mobility-on-demand and employer-focused shuttles.
     
    You asked why we would propose removing local MetroBus service from Cherokee, which we understand is important for residents and businesses along that corridor. The draft Metro ReImagined plan proposes making adjustments to our transit network that are designed to improve cost effectiveness, increase ridership, and enhance the customer experience, all within our existing resources. This means that we as a community must explore some important tradeoffs as we move toward creating a final vision. Metro ReImagined proposes increasing some route spacing, and applying savings to create a core network of frequent service operating at least every 15 minutes that is accessible to more than half of existing Metro customers, 35% of all residents within our service area, and 43% of jobs within our service area. Within the vicinity of Cherokee, Metro ReImagined proposes providing service at least every 15 minutes during most of the day on nearby corridors, including the #11 Chippewa, which operates on Jefferson, and the #10 Gravois, which operates on Gravois. This plan also proposes making changes to the existing #73 Carondelet to create a revised route (listed as the #73 Broadway – Carondelet in this plan) that also offers service every 15 minutes.
     
    We did consider ridership at the stop-level when creating this draft plan, and we understand that this change, if implemented, would impact customers especially near the midpoint between Jefferson and Gravois (near Cherokee and Nebraska, for example). As we consider feedback from the public over the next month, including yours, we may propose a revised solution that offers service on Cherokee. We understand that any additional route “coverage” added back into the network work require a corresponding adjustment to proposed service frequency or coverage. I can tell you that Cherokee is one of the corridors we’ve received feedback on most in the past couple of weeks, so it is a high priority for analysis as the plan is revised.
     
    Metro is seeking public comment on this draft plan through early May. We anticipate releasing a revised plan early this summer. That revised plan will be accompanied by an implementation strategy and timeline, with most of the proposed changes beginning in 2019. Thank you for your input, and please stay tuned to the conversation.
  • Will Metro Reimagined address safety in addition to service?
  • Maintaining the safety of our customers and employees continues to be Metro’s top priority.  While issues of personal safety and security are being handled as part of other discussions (such as the memorandum of understanding with police forces of the jurisdictions we serve), Metro ReImagined does address these security issues through its service improvements. Let’s think through the stages of a customer’s trip:
    1. While the customer waits for the service at a bus stop, they will be more likely to have a bench or shelter. We’re also working with the communities we serve to take on ownership of the cleanliness and appearance of bus stop zones. Most importantly, they will not wait as long because service operates more frequently, or is demand responsive.
    2. While riding Metro buses or trains, our customers are beginning to see an increase in the presence of uniformed police officers our partners in St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis and St. Clair County on MetroLink trains and platforms. We are working with our partners to strengthen security and law enforcement across the Metro Transit System, including onboard trains and at MetroLink and MetroBus stations. St. Clair County Sheriff’s Deputies have begun patrolling MetroLink into Missouri. Metro is working with our partners through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments to conduct a safety and security audit of the entire Metro Transit System.
    3. We are working to provide customers with access to information and tools that will help them feel safer. Our ongoing efforts include providing apps and messaging solutions that would allow customers to reach out to law enforcement in emergency situations, or contact Metro regarding less critical situations such as reporting vandalism or nuisance behavior. Stay tuned for more on this subject.
  • will metro ever have regular service to 6 flags?
  • Diane, at this time, Metro does not operate and has not proposed regularly-scheduled transit service to destinations such as Six Flags in Eureka, Missouri. Six Flags is an important destination for many people in the St. Louis region, but its relatively distant location (22 miles from the nearest MetroLink Station at Shrewsbury) and episodic demand make it a difficult place to serve with transit. We have had some conversations with Six Flags and leadership in these communities, though we have not yet identified a productive transit solution and funding strategy for this location.
  • Are new transit centers part of the Metro Reimagined plan? If so, where?
  • Sarah, we are still working through the capital program (infrastructure, vehicles, etc.) for Metro ReImagined, which is likely to include additional infrastructure we’re calling “community mobility hubs.” Today Metro owns and operates a number of transit centers across the region that serve as mobility hubs for customers, and layover points for operations. Community mobility hubs would complement our existing transit center and MetroLink Station investments by providing convenient, attractive locations at major intersections for customers to transfer between routes or modes. These hubs would typically serve about two routes, and would be smaller in scale than our transit centers.
  • For almost a decade now the population of St. Louis City has been in decline. There are now more people living in St. Charles County than there are in St. Louis. At one point in 2015 the St. Louis County Population peaked at about 1 million people but has since leveled off to about 996,726 according to the latest census estimate. For what reason has Bus Service not expanded into a sprawling St. Louis County and are there proposals to cut service in parts of North County?
  • JRCharney, MetroBus service has expanded significantly into St. Louis County, particularly over the past 15 years. Metro’s draft plan for adjusting MetroBus service, called Metro ReImagined, aims to strategically match mobility services to varying markets, all within our existing resources. This means that future service will not look like it does today.  We worked hard to match mobility solutions to market demands, and so it is important to try to think about this proposed plan as a vision for the best type of transit service for a given market, rather than as a series of tweaks and cuts to current service. Metro plans to continue serving our existing markets, though the type of service, route configuration, and schedules may look different. In communities across north St. Louis County in particular, Metro has proposed streamlining some routes, and increasing service frequency on many routes. The plan presented now is a draft, which means that we are asking for your input on how to improve it, or make it work better for you before we adopt a final plan. I encourage you to review the draft plan, and provide us your feedback on this proposal.
  • Which lines are being eliminated?
  • Phil, the draft Metro ReImagined network plan is a vision for public mobility in the St. Louis region that will provide new and existing customers with an important alternative to the norm. This means that future service will not look like it does today. The draft plan proposes a new network, rather than adjustments to existing routes. The plan may be best considered by viewing the specific markets, corridors, or destinations you’re most interested in. I encourage you to check out the interactive map on our project website. There are going to be adjustments, and we are working hard to minimize the impact to our riders. I encourage you to review the plan, and provide us with your feedback. Metro is seeking public comment on this draft plan through early May. We anticipate releasing a revised plan early this summer. That revised plan will be accompanied by an implementation strategy and timeline, with most of the proposed changes beginning in 2019. Thank you for your input, and please stay tuned to the conversation.
  • I'd like to take the bus to work from my home in South St. Louis to 7th and Chouteau. However, to do so would take me between an hour and an hour-and-a-half each way. If I drive, it takes me 18 minutes. Is anything being done to decrease travel time on buses from South City?
  • Sean, thank you for expressing an interest in using Metro to commute to work. The proposed Metro ReImagined plan aims to decrease travel time for our customers by creating routes that are more direct, and operate more frequently. In fact, more frequent service is the feature most often requested by our customers and the public. Metro ReImagined proposes two routes that would operate to 7th & Chouteau, including an enhanced frequent route, the #73 Broadway – Carondelet that would operate every 15 minutes, and the #30 Arsenal, a local route that would operate every 30 minutes. Your travel time to this destination depends on where you’re coming from, but with more frequent service and transfers timed at major intersections, your travel time should improve. I encourage you to check out the draft plan and provide us with your feedback.
  • Starbucks has this really great app where you load money onto it designated for paying coffee with. Just about every retailer has an NFC reader to do tap-and-pay purchases. When are we going to start using the NFC readers? Before or after Trump leaves office?
  • JRCharney, thank you for expressing your interest in making it easier and more convenient for customers to pay their transit fares. Metro is updating our fare collection technology and products to provide customers with more convenient options. We are rolling out our Gateway Card, which is a stored-value smart card (think a plastic card that functions like a credit card or hotel room key). Gateway Cards can be used to load cash value, or products like a monthly or weekly pass. Gateway Cards are now available for full-fare customers at our MetroStore @ 8th & Pine. These cards are now free, and can be loaded with cash value or a monthly or 7-day pass. You can also register your Gateway Card at the MetroStore so your balance is protected if it is lost or stolen. Metro will make more cards available through promotional events beginning this spring. Stay tuned to this conversation at www.mygatewaycard.com for more availability.
     
    In addition to Gateway Card, Metro is also pursuing a mobile ticketing option that would allow customers to use their cell phone to pay their transit fare, most likely for shorter-term tickets like one-rides, round trips, or day passes. We are currently developing a request for proposals for potential vendors. We will move through this process through 2018, and we hope to begin delivering mobile ticketing options to our customers in 2019.
  • Am I reading the 'Reimagined' map correctly? Will the routes that run along Willmington in the Holly Hills neighborhood no longer serve that street?
  • Sean, Metro ReImagined does propose removing service from Wilmington Avenue in Holly Hills. Service is provided today on this corridor by the #8 Bates-Morganford, and its productivity is relatively low. In the proposed plan, customers traveling from Wilmington Avenue would most likely access the Metro system from Grand Avenue (#70 Grand), which is proposed to have service operating every 10-15 minutes during most hours of the day. For customers further west on Wilmington, service is proposed to operate every 15 minutes on the Gravois corridor (#10 Gravois). Let us know your thoughts on this proposal. Would this work for you?
  • Will the Grand route still have those bendy buses under the draft plan?
  • Will, Metro does plan to continue operating 60’ articulated (bendy) buses on the #70 Grand. Our Metro ReImagined plan proposes adding more service frequency to this route (service every 10-15 minutes during most of our operating hours), and ending the route on the north end near Grand & West Florissant, rather than ending at the Broadway & Taylor Transit Center. Metro will replace our current 60’ buses around 2021, and at this time we’re planning to replace them with 60’ electric buses. We hope you’ll like them.
  • 1) In the plan there is a photo of what I assume to be a fleet of rentable vehicles at a corner hub. Is Metro considering a system similar to BlueIndy?
    2) Are there any plans for the old ticketing booths at Clayton, Maplewood, or Forest Park? Would love to see small retail layouts at these locations.
    3) I would love to see 'live monitoring' come to the park and ride lots. This morning I drove to Forest Park - Skinker Station hoping to avoid the 64/Forest Park traffic and found the lot full (great but super frustrating). If I had the opportunity to check the lots vacancy before leaving the house, I would've taken the bus.
    4) When will Metro Reimagined include new stop locations?
  • Addxb, as part of Metro ReImagined, Metro is considering a range of what we are calling “Community Mobility Solutions” at this time. As our planning and implementation plan progresses, and as we begin pilot projects to test new service concepts, we will refine the specific service strategy for each of the Community Mobility areas. This could include car sharing (like BlueIndy); mobility on demand, which allows customers to summon a ride via a phone or app; employer-focused shuttles that offer service to specific destinations at predetermined times; our routes that circulate within local areas, and also provide connections to the core Metro Transit System. Stay tuned for more, and let us know what you think!
  • Addxb, at this time, we are not planning to add retail to the ticket booths at Clayton, Maplewood and Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink Stations. These booths are typically staffed during high-volume periods only. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please visit our new MetroStore Downtown at 8Th & Pine. MetroStore sells Metro tickets and passes, and also lots of St. Louis and Metro Transit gear.
  • Addxb, thank you for your inquiry regarding live monitoring of park-ride lot capacity. This is not something we currently have in the works, as the need might not justify the expense. Currently most of our park-ride lots have availability on normal service days, however the parking lot at the Forest Park – DeBaliviere MetroLink Station is a small lot in a dense neighborhood and fills up daily. Try parking at the nearby Delmar MetroLink Station, which offers many more spaces.
  • Addxb, specific bus stop locations for Metro ReImagined aren’t included in the draft plan, as nearly all of the route segments in the draft plan have existing MetroBus service and bus stops. While there will be minor changes to stop numbers and locations, it’s safe to assume that most existing stops would remain. Final stop locations, service schedules, etc. would be made available at the time service changes are implemented, likely beginning in 2019.
  • A few questions:
    1) Washington University gives all employees Metro passes. Based on anecdotal evidence, many of those employees live near the 80 (particularly Shaw & Tower Grove East/South). With the limited parking on campus, there seems to be an opportunity to increase ridership with frequent service to areas of higher WU employee residence density. Has this been studied?
    2) Replacement of the 80 @ 40 mins with the re-aligned 8 @ 30 min appears to be an improvement--thanks! I assume it will stop at the new Boyle station. Is this correct?
    3) When will the Boyle station be complete?
    4) Safety, whether perceived or actual, is a hindrance to ridership. Will savings/efficiencies with these realignments be able to fund increased safety measures (turnstiles, security, etc.)?
  • DMB, thank you for your questions and feedback. We do hope that the proposed #08 Bates Morganford will be an attractive options for members of the WUSTL community who live in the Forest Park Southeast, Botanical Heights, and Shaw neighborhoods. We have not yet determined which routes would also serve the new Cortex MetroLink Station, which is scheduled to open this summer. Metro does value our UPass programs, and we currently have six UPass customers, including Washington University. We meet next week with WUSTL Leadership to discuss this draft plan, and we look forward to feedback and suggestions. I will carry yours into that conversation, thank you.
     
    Regarding safety and security, it might be helpful to review our earlier response that begins with “Maintaining the safety and security of our customers…” which addresses customer safety and security within the context of Metro ReImagined. Regarding funding and implementing additional safety and security measures like increased personnel or barriers, this is an ongoing conversation Metro is having with the communities we serve, and our local partners in law enforcement including the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County, IL. We will all soon participate in an assessment study of safety and security across the Metro Transit System, which is being led by East-West Gateway Council of Governments. This effort will help advance the conversation about whether, how, where, and at what cost barriers could be added to the MetroLink system.
  • Will there ever be a North and South metro link route?
  • Nick, the region is exploring a possible north-south light rail route, called Northside-Southside (learn more at http://www.northsidesouthsidestl.com/). There is a conceptual design study under way right now that is refining our expectations of exactly where this corridor would be constructed and how much it would likely cost, as well as making recommendations to our region for strategies that would make such a project more competitive for federal funding. The timing of when this project could be constructed has not been determined. At this time we still need to progress this project through what is called preliminary engineering, then a final engineering and planning phase. In between those phases, the region would apply for federal funding- a must for the St. Louis region for a project of this magnitude. If all goes well, we could expect to see Northside-Southside constructed in 8-10 years, but I do want to emphasize that there are many variables and uncertainties in the interim, as is the case with any new project of this magnitude.
  • Why is Metro so far behind KCRTA, in KC? They are lightyears ahead now of Metro. Feel ashamed.
  • MetroWest, KCATA, the transit system in Kansas City, MO and KS, does offer some pretty cool services including bus rapid transit, frequent bus service, and street cars (no light rail). I do not think it’s accurate to conclude that the Metro Transit System in St. Louis is so far behind. Metro does offer 46 miles of light rail with 37, soon to be 38 stations; 83 MetroBus routes; the St. Louis region will soon see the opening of our first modern streetcar; and Metro ReImagined is proposing the introduction of a number of frequent bus routes, some of which could be enhanced to bus rapid transit with sufficient funding and support. If you have specific requests for service, let us know.
  • Are there any plans to put a Metrolink station somewhere in the Southwest St Louis City area? Currently, it takes an hour and twenty minutes and multiple transfers to travel 5 miles from this part of the City to Clayton, a major business hub and the County Seat.
  • Mary Elizabeth, there are no immediate plans to add MetroLink service to southwest St. Louis City, though our regional partners including St. Louis County have indicated plans to study further MetroLink routes, including extending the Blue Line from its current terminus at Landsdowne / I-44.  We do not yet have a timeline for this effort. Depending on where you are coming from, your best options for access to Clayton may be from the #11 Chippewa or #16 City Limits to the Shrewsbury MetroLink station, which is a short ride from Clayton. If you are further east, you may wish to use the #90 Hampton, which connects to the MetroLink Blue Line at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station. The good news for you is that Metro ReImagined proposes increasing frequency on all three of the MetroBus routes I’ve mentioned here. I would like to know if the draft plan will meet your needs. Please check out the plan at www.metrostlouis.org/reimagined and let us know what you think.
  • Changes to Wilmington would mean several blocks extra walking either way. I could do it, but it would not encourage me to take the bus. I'd also be surprised if elderly passengers could walk the extra blocks.
  • Sean, I am curious to learn if you use the #08 Bates Morganford on Wilmington now? The service isn’t very frequent, which adds to trip time (I believe you requested a shorter trip), but walking the few blocks to one of the frequent routes on Grand or Gravois would get you there faster than the existing system. The MetroReimagined network plan assumes a steady state budget, which means we can’t both add or retain all existing route coverage and add frequency. Check out the plan, consider it, and let us know what you think.
  • Big Bend between Grant and Elm has had lane modifications within the last year. Although the middle lane is helpful and potentially reduces accidents, the road is still not friendly to bicycles. In fact it is worse since the lane goes all the way to the edge with only way around a cyclist would be to illegally use center turn lane. This makes it dificult to get to the parks and trails in the area. Grants trail is close by, sappington has a bike lane, but once a bike rider reaches big bend there is no space to share the road.
  • Webster33, I think your question is intended for MoDOT’s “Ask the Road Crew” chat.
     
    http://news.live.stltoday.com/Event/Ask_the_Road_Crew_5aae95329d17
  • I have reviewed the plan, however I've noticed that a couple places in North County are losing their service, and despite urban sprawl in West St. Louis County, the routes have barely changed in over 20 years. (At one point I had a collection of route maps from the late 1990s that one family member tossed out). While you say that the plan is a draft it looks more like the same routes we've had only reorganized again. Does get traffic data from MoDOT or do they just use their own data?
  • JRCharney, you have expressed a few questions and concerns that may be best handled through a one-on-one conversation with Metro Customer Service. Feel free to reach out to us at 314-982-1406 or at customerservice@metrostlouis.org.
  • Thank you St. Louis for joining us during our Live Chat this afternoon. If you can, please try and make it out to one of the Metro Reimagined public meetings. A list of those locations and times can be found on the Metro Transit website. We look forward to talking to you about the draft plan in greater detail. As for those other transit questions, feel free to reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter or use one of our Customer Care tools. Have a great month!
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