Friday, March 27, 2009



Metro OKs buses to job centers
By Ken Leiser

Buses will continue to roll to employment centers in the Chesterfield Valley through the end of the year under a tentative agreement announced today.

Massive service cuts will take effect on Monday and were to cut off bus service west of Interstate 270. But Chesterfield Mayor John Nations today pledged more than $173,000 to create a new route that will reach employers along the Highway 40 corridor.

That will represent the local match for a federal job access and reverse commute grant, said Metro Ray Friem, Metro's senior vice president for transit operations. Fare collections will cover the remainder of the cost.

Metro's board of commissioners authorized its top executive, Bob Baer, to negotiate details of the agreement with Chesterfield and others who are working to maintain bus service to far west St. Louis County through Dec. 31.

"Public transportation is an extremely important element of building a good business climate and consequently creating a good quality of life," Nations told reporters after today's Metro Board of Commissioners meeting.

The new route would begin at the Clayton MetroLink station, then go to the Ballas bus transfer center and points west along Highway 40.

Nations said there are 26,000 jobs in Chesterfield alone and public transportation is "an integral part" of that effort. It is critical to the nursing homes, hospitals and service sectors.

Chesterfield's pledge could include a mix of public and private money from businesses that have so far agreed to cover part of the cost, Nations said. Businesses may wind up funding the entire local share.

Some Metro commissioners expressed concerns about authorizing the 11th-hour deal without all of the specifics in hand. But others said it was important to prevent a disruption in bus service to parts of the region.

Metro, the region's largest transit agency, will dramatically scale back the reach of its bus system - wiping out two dozen bus routes and modifying others. Beginning Monday, service will be suspended to 2,300 of the 9,000 bus stops and bus shelters in the Missouri half of Metro's system.
MetroLink trains will run less frequently on both sides of the Mississippi River during peak commute periods.
Buses and trains that remain are expected to be more crowded.

This is significantly less service than there is today, but it is service that will reach the retail centers, nursing homes, and hospitals that were about to be cut off from public transit.

I applaud the hard work of The City of Chesterfield and especially Libbey Malberg, the city's Assistant City Administrator for Community Services & Economic Development. This is a rare example of a city government (Chesterfield, NOT St. Louis) working hard and committing resources in order to maintain jobs and quality of life for its citizens.

Of course, Metro has not posted official word of this deal or released the final route map and schedules. If this route starts Monday, they've got some quick work to do, something they aren't always known for.

In any event, this is a little victory, and for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lost Generation

I guess this video has been floating around for a while, but if you haven't seen it, its worth 1:44 of your time. Thanks to Dave Logan for passing it along!

Sunday, March 22, 2009



Monday, March 30 is the day that the St. Louis region regresses to the Stone Age in terms of its public transit system, or lack thereof.
The March 22nd St. Louis Post-Dispatch has two well written articles about the situation. The first story, which the graphic comes from, is an overview of the transit changes to come. Story number two looks at the way regular people will be affected by the changes.
A peek at my previous posts will make my thoughts on how we were forced into this service reduction plan clear, so I won't waste bandwidth repeating them here. I urge you to look at those posts to get some background on this horrific situation.

Yes, as a visually handicapped person, I am directly affected by these changes since I don't drive and Metro is cutting any buses that come near me on March 30th. I've been fortunate enough to be included in meetings and communications about Metro's overtures to return service to the Chesterfield Valley, an important business destination, and some of the nursing homes in my area that rely on bus riders for employment.

Metro's publicized that they want to do everything they can to help restore the service, they've just forgotten to mention to the public that they've asked the businesses and governments in the West St. Louis County area for $300,000 to start the greatly reduced route and keep it running until the end of the year. They've also not mentioned that there will be at least a $600,000 shortfall should that service extend into 2010, and that's ONLY assuming they get a million dollars in Federal matching funds and $400,000 in farebox revenue. So yes, they've offered to help, but in today's economy, it seems fairly safe to assume that the resumption of service is a longshot at best. I think I'd rather bet on the St. Louis Rams to win the 2010 Super Bowl.

Forget my personal situation. I'll figure out how to get to work. I'm every bit as concerned about the long term impact these changes are about to have on the St. Louis region. Here's the bottom line. St. Louis becomes a THIRD class mass transit region on March 30th. Metro's years of mismanagement, the horrendous Prop M campaign orchestrated by St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and his cronies, and lack of honest public education about the economic impact of a horrid public transit system will converge into a perfect storm that will put people out of work, leave employers scrambling to find workers-even in this recession, and make anyone looking to expand or bring a business to St. Louis think twice.

I've said in other forums that St. Louis has a worse public transit system than Beirut. Here's proof.

I've had a number of conversations with senior Metro staffers about this situation, and it does seem that they do have real sympathy for the individuals about to the stranded and the huge hit the already staggering St. Louis economy is about to take. They had a plan to essentially launder Federal Highway Administration money and get their hands on it for operating revenue, but the Feds saw right through that and stopped it. They say they're still working on ways to increase service, and if nothing else they're putting another tax increase on the ballot in April, 2010. However, anything they do at this point to address the problems they've gotten themselves into over the years is far too little, and far too late.

We as citizens of the St. Louis region should be embarrassed and ashamed of our "leaders" and the Metro Board Of Commissioners for letting this happen.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I came across this well crafted essay from one of the media industry's most gifted researchers, Bob Lawrence, the President of Pinnacle Media Worldwide and thought it just had to be shared.


Where do we go from here? We look around around and see some of the most wonderfully, talented people out of work; people who could really make a positive difference for so many struggling radio stations. As a result, many of us are working even harder to take up the slack. The truth is though, that the product is not at the forefront of everyone's mind and we can't really blame anyone. Everyone is very much in the same situation; survival mode! I am about to tell you somethings you no doubt, already know, but do you keep them with you as life's trump card?

The stress levels in every area from programming to sales seem to be at an all time high and all are looking for a big miracle. We're even making deals with God. "Ok, Lord... we've learned our lesson and we promise to never allow ourselves to get in this terrible situation again... Now, will you please fix it for us?" I am a believer and I have strong faith. I also believe in miracles, but I believe that God gives us what we need rather than what we want and frankly, what we need this time is probably not what we want. What's needed just may be a good dose of reality!

No matter where in the world you live and work, we are all blessed, or "lucky" if you prefer. What we do tend to forget however, is that doesn't imply we have everything we want, nor does it suggest that we'll all be healthy, wealthy, and wise. It seems to me that we all must realize that being "content" isn't always synonymous with being "happy". I only learned recently to try being content with what I have, rather than what I don't have. No one says we have to like everything in life, either personally or professionally, but we can be "content" with it all. There are certainly lessons to be learned from our successes, as well as the trials. How we look at the place we are in life will help us learn and move to whatever is next.

My wife noted just a week ago, one evening when out to dinner, "When you were building your business, you seemed under such great stress. You were always on the road and disconnected from our family." She went on to add, "Today, when things are harder" (and it is harder for us too; perhaps even more so), "you seem more at ease and are leaning more on us then before." Wow! What an epiphany and what a blessing! Things were better professionally and business was very good - but the cost was a sacrifice for my family.

You have no doubt heard the following expressions... but do we live them?

"If there were no valleys there would be no beautiful mountains."
"If the rocks were smooth, we would never be able to climb them."
"If not for the rain, how would we appreciate the sunshine?"
(Ask San Diegans about that last one. We only get nine inches of rain a year, so when it comes, we love it!)

You get the point. While we sometimes find it so difficult to navigate through the tough times, it certainly gives us an appreciation for the good ones. Think back to the late 90's when we all experienced double-digit growth beyond what we thought possible? Did we learn from that and did anyone really think it would last forever? They called it all a bubble for a reason... they burst!

In the last several years, we have seen a good deal of thievery, deceit, lying, underhandedness, and shady business practices by many, only to fill their pockets, while good, honest people have paid a serious price. I heard someone recently say, "Money can't buy happiness, but it sure can help rent it for a while." I thought about that for a moment before realizing that this sort of thinking is what pulls us down the old rabbit hole. The truth is that money will never create happiness, nor even rent it for a short time. As trite as it sounds, happiness comes from within.

Are you content? I hope so, because of this I am certain... neither money, nor a flourishing business will make you happy. Your faith, your spouse, your children, your friends... only the relationships in your life will bring happiness. Liam Neeson was on the set of a new picture just Monday, for no doubt a proverbial boatload of money, when he rushed to be with his wife, actress Natasha Richardson. Sadly, she passed away Wednesday evening as a result of what at first, appeared to be a minor fall on a beginner skip slope in Canada. You can be sure that the academy award winning actor would gladly give it all up, if only...

I know we all do what we have to do. I'm not implying it should, or can be any other way. What I am suggesting is that it doesn't have to consume us and make us miserable. Ok - none of us probably have as much money as we had five years ago, or perhaps even a year ago, but we can still be content. No matter what, we will always have all the wonderful relationships and friendships that have been nurtured over a lifetime. It's only when we learn to be content, regardless of the prize in the end, that we can see the true reward of the blessings in all those things we already have.

Thanks to Bob for sharing. Definitely something to think about in these insane times. You can find out more about Bob and his company by clicking the link at the top of the post.