Sunday, December 21, 2008

St. Louis Moves Closer To Second Class City Status

Please let me make it perfectly clear that this, uh, rant is my PERSONAL opinion only and has no connection to my employment or employer.

On November 4th, voters in St. Louis County voted down a half cent sales tax that, among other things, would fund public transit in the region, called Metro. Prop M was defeated because St. Louis is simply not a "mass transit" town, and the people behind the measure had no clue how to get it sold to the electorate. I have to share my thoughts on this, both because I am deeply concerned about the economic future of the St. Louis region and because I rely on public transportation due to my visual handicap.

The failure of Prop M will hurt not only the riders of Metro, but the region as a whole. Businesses in places like the Chesterfield Valley (near where I live) and the Hospital Corridor (St. John's, MoBap, St. Luke's) will be unable to hire employees who have had no other way to get to work than public transit. Business in the city will even have problems getting people to work for them when applicants have no other means to get to work than public transit. Let's face it, some of these people are the ones who need (and will take) jobs the most. Frequency of service throughout what's left of the MetroBus and MetroLink system, will be reduced, and in the end fares will go up.

Nothing good has come out of this service reduction manifesto. The campaign to get the measure passed was a joke, filled with touchy feely claims about air quality and oversized postcards delivered every day (one day I got THREE different ones) that said NOTHING of substance about the measure. Despite what was said by others, it was almost impossible for a reasonably intelligent St. Louis County resident to get the full details of the proposition within the context of the campaign to pass it. This was mishandled by Metro, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley's office, and stakeholders in Metro's continued viability. In short, it was one of the most ill conceived and poorly executed campaigns in modern history.

We can't change what's going to happen in March, but we should hold those responsible for this fiasco accountable for their actions. How many Bi-State Board members ride the bus on a regular basis? I'm guessing not many. When's the last time Mr. Dooley (pictured) or his lackeys stood out in the cold waiting for a bus that is woefully behind schedule or simply never comes? The smart money says NEVER. These people were charged with getting this measure passed, and they failed in grand style. Now hundreds of thousands of people in the region will pay for their folly, both the people who depended on Metro to get around and the business owners who needed public transit to get their employees to and from work.

Can the system be fixed? Probably not. Our region has had substandard mass transit for years, and its gotten worse. Good luck attracting new business to the area once they find out their workers pretty much have no option but to drive to work if they live in the suburbs. Fat chance attracting major conventions and athletic events when there's no viable public transit in St. Louis.

Can the people who made the measure fail because they weren't men (or women) enough to tell St. Louisians what would REALLY happen if the measure failed be held accountable? ABSOLUTELY. And once employees and employers see what a disservice their elected officials and Metro have done for them, opposition will come forward.

Hey Charlie, what time will your driver pick me up to take me to work on March 30th? Since you and your stooges, along with the completely disconnected Bi-State Board have made my bus vanish, I'm sure you'll want to make sure that I, as someone who can help vote you and your henchmen out of office when the time comes, will want to make sure I can keep working and paying taxes.

Or do you even care?
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