Thursday, April 30, 2009


Sometimes I don't even have to do the writing, and I can let the source speak for itself. Case in point, the "Metro Memo" e mail that just landed in my inbox. Text is below, click on the headline above to see the complete pretty Interwebs version.

As most of us who have an understanding of Missouri politics could have guessed, Metro has lost its second bid to get state funding to keep itself in business. Oh, and while they're at it, they're again cutting the hours they're available to give their disenfranchised customers what they claim to be "customer service".

May is coming tomorrow. I can't wait for the next half hour video briefing on how things didn't go so well in Jefferson City. Get me some popcorn!
April 30, 2009

Welcome to Metro's electronic magazine! You are receiving this
e-zine because of your connection to Metro or your interest in regional transit issues.

· Update on Metro Transit Funding from State of Missouri · Customer Service and Transit Information Hours Reduced
· Metro Official to Speak at Community Action Meeting
· Celebrate Chess with a Metro Art Bus Painting Event

House Bill 22 is Defeated

On Thursday, April 30, Missouri House Bill (HB) 22, which included $12 million of Stimulus/Stabilization funding for Metro, was defeated during a final vote by the Missouri House of Representatives.

Earlier in April, Missouri House Budget Chairman Allen Icet introduced HB 20, which allocated $20 million to Metro from the Federal Budget Stabilization Fund. Last week, it was announced that Missouri Speaker of the House Ron Richard and House Budget Chairman Allen Icet were redirecting their plan for those funds and filed HB 22, which did not include transit funding for Metro.

On Wednesday, April 29, Missouri Representatives amended HB 22 to include $12 million for Metro transit funding. Unfortunately, the final vote on the bill resulted in its defeat.

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder has pledged to work to revive the bill. In addition to Metro funding, the bill contained funding for a variety of state projects, including a Columbia, MO Cancer Center and a plant science center in Mexico, MO.

If you would like your voice heard on this critical funding proposal, now is the time to contact your Missouri State Senators and Representatives. You can find your state officials, including their contact information, by using the "Find Your Elected Officials" feature on

Metro Transit Information and Customer Service Hours to Change on May 4, 2009

Beginning Monday, May 4, 2009, Metro’s Transit Information and Customer Service Call Center will change its hours to 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

This change in Transit Information and Customer Service hours is a part of the March 30 transit service reductions, and was postponed to help customers adjust to the new route and schedule changes.

The Transit Information group provides MetroBus and MetroLink schedules and trip planning for customers. Transit Information Operators are currently available between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Customer Service group assists customers who have questions or comments about Metro’s services, or who want to report lost items. Customer Service Representatives are currently available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

“We have been able to help most of our customers through the recent service reduction and, along with field supervisors, are continuing to work with them on issues of service such as crowded buses and trains,” said Sandra Shaner, Director of Customer Service for Metro. “We have additional customer resources available through internet access to schedules and TripFinder software for use after hours. E-mails, answered during working hours, also provide a convenience for customers who can write to us at any time about service or with advance routing questions.”

Metro Transit Information may be reached by phone or email:
314-231-2345 from Missouri
618-271-2345 from Illinois

Metro Customer Service may be reached by phone or email:
314-982-1406 from Missouri
618-271-7879 from Illinois

Customers may also visit for information about Metro’s services.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Austin Model-Polar Opposite of St. Louis

Clicking on the above video will take you to its YouTube site. You can also click on the headline to be taken to the video. Sorry, embedding of this video has been disabled, but I assure you its worth watching.

Submitted for your approval (sorry Rod) a commercial from candidate for Mayor of Austin, Texas Brewster McCracken. In this spot, the candidate takes an objective look at the CITY of St. Louis and how it went from boomtown to laughingstock. His message? Don't let what happened to St. Louis happen to Austin.

McCracken is spot on. The CITY of St. Louis has been allowed to die because of petty politics, a complete lack of vision for the region, and denying its residents essential services like well paved streets, decent schools, and functioning public transit.

As you can imagine, the locals here are up in arms about this shot at St. Louis. They're hurt, and I don't blame them. Its harsh, but its completely true.

St. Louis is the poster child of how to kill a city's soul, drive the people and businesses you need to thrive to the suburbs (where I live and could not be happier), and have city and county leadership spending too much time at the baseball stadium (with the vacant lot next door that was supposed to be a multi million dollar shopping/office/residential mecca in time for July's All Star Game) and not enough time looking around to see what a mess they've made or thinking of realistic ways to improve the quality of life in the region.

I don't know anything about Brewster McCracken. Wait, I do know ONE thing. He's got a better view of the sorry state of St. Louis than the people running our region do. Maybe our local leaders will take a minute, watch this commercial, and ponder what they've done to the once grand CITY of St. Louis.

Perhaps during the seventh inning stretch?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Its only 9:10AM on Monday and I already feel like I've been through a week's worth of drama and disasters. Please shoot me now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Metro Discovers It Has A PR Problem (DUH)

I've got to hand it to the fine people at Metro, the public transit agency in St. Louis.

I won't go into all the farces and fiascoes they've been responsible for lately, you can read them on earlier blog posts. But I've got to give them the award for UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE DECADE in Friday's article from The St. Louis Beacon. You can click on the headline to read the whole story about their budget problems and how the State of Missouri is going to ride in (presumably NOT on a bus) with twenty million bucks to bail them out. But if you go down to the bottom of the story, you see Metro's solution to one of the worst Public Relations practices in the Universe:
Making the case to the Public

Although 486 positions --- mostly bus drivers --- have been cut, Metro is trying to do some "resource shifting" to add a person to help bring the agency into the new technological age.

"Metro is behind the curve on new media," Metro spokeswoman Dianne Williams said. It’s not a question of preserving a bus driver instead of adding a public relations person. That person could assist "in bringing back enough money to put a whole lot more than one bus driver back on the street," she said.

"Everyone tells us we've got to get out in the community and tell the people our story," Baer said. Instead of using volunteers, "I don't think it's unreasonable to add one new media person," he added.

"We're looking at improving our public relations with the community," Klevorn said.


If Metro had the slightest clue how to communicate with the public, both its customers and (more importantly) the people who can help fund their operation, they might not be in the horrific mess they've put themselves in.

But the Big Guy at Metro, Robert Baer remains clueless. Must be busy working on May's half hour update to the world.

Oh and Bob, thanks for not responding to my e mail of my last post. THAT'S the kind of "Public Relations" that keeps Metro so in touch with the community.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


As a media consumer and media professional, I've always been of the belief that brevity is key in communicating a message. Obviously, the good people at Metro, the agency responsible for the transit disaster in St. Louis, missed that memo.

Submitted for your approval and available by clicking the headline on this post, the newly posted Metro Customer Focus for April 2009.

Where do I begin to discuss the faults with this attempt to tell their tale of woe by FINALLY trotting our their President and CEO to talk about everything they're trying to do to get transit service restored to St. Louis?

Here are a few observations:

  • THE VIDEO IS 24 MINUTES AND 26 SECONDS LONG. Mind you, that's less than the time between most bus service in St. Louis, but its FAR too long to hold even the most interested person's attention so whatever messages are supposed to be communicated are lost in the blur of the diatribe.
  • Someone at Metro or their overpaid production company found the new technology called STEREO for this presentation! You get to hear the Metro Director of Communications asking questions in the right speaker and the Boss answering them in the left speaker. Let's hope everyone watching on their computer has two good working speakers so they can enjoy the miracle of binural sound.
  • There's no transcript of ability to download the unnecessarily long video, so if you have a life or can't plant yourself for 24:26, you're out of luck.

Again, Metro shows its true inability to connect with the rest of the free world by trying to get their message out, but in a completely ineffective way. How much did the production, hosting, and bandwidth cost, and will they see any kind of ROI? Could the money be used somewhere else, like getting people to ride the nearly empty busses they've put into my part of the St. Louis area?

I pray that their efforts to make operating funds come from the State and Federal governments are just a little bit better thought out than this, another classic Metro public relations fiasco.