AS WITH ALL POSTS ABOUT THE PUBLIC TRANSIT SITUATION IN ST. LOUIS, THESE COMMENTS ARE PURELY PERSONAL OPINION AND NOT CONNECTED IN ANY WAY WITH MY EMPLOYMENT OR EMPLOYER.
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.