Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Glimmer Of Hope For St. Louis Public Transit

For the next few months, you'll be seeing me write about the public transit situation in St. Louis and the need to pass a modest tax increase in order to continue to provide even bare bones service to the area. This is a topic that's critically important to me as I rely on mass transit to get around (due to a visual handicap) but its also one of the key things that will determine how the St. Louis area develops. Without an effective public transit system, the region will atrophy and ultimately lose even more jobs and residents.

I found a piece of what could be great news today in regards to the upcoming ballot issue, thanks to my co-workers at KMOX Radio.

Posted: Wednesday, 02 December 2009 4:25AM

Metro sales tax officially resurrected; message in focus
Michael Calhoun Reporting
CLAYTON (KMOX) -- Last spring, Chesterfield opened its wallet to prevent transit cuts in west county. Now, the
town's mayor is heading up efforts to find permanent funding for Metro.

"After what happened this year, people are now very aware public transportation and the cuts and what it meant to the region," John Nations says.

St. Louis County Councilmembers Tuesday officially resurrected that half-cent sales tax to fund Metro and introduced it for consideration. A tentative vote will happen next week.

Nations says there's little federal help and no state funding, so it's all on Saint Louisans.

"A lot of people rely on businesses which rely on public transpiration even though they themselves don't ride it," he says of the message to come ahead of April's election.

The half-cent sales tax would generate about $80-million each

Look at the campaign finance reports, he says, and you'll find
both Republicans and Democrats agreeing on that.

In the face of $45-million deficit, Metro earlier this year slashed service to parts of the region. A state bail-out helped restore some of those routes.
Copyright KMOX Radio

Why is this good news? Four words. JOHN NATIONS GETS IT. In a region where so few politicians and their stooges have no appreciation for mass transit, Mayor Nations has distinguished himself as someone who understands why transit in St. Louis is important, not only to people like me who use it, but to everyone in the region.

After the disastrous campaign to get more money for Metro, the St. Louis transit agency, in November of 2008, a monkey could run a better effort for the upcoming ballot question. The people behind the measure went a quantum leap over that and got one of the region's most visionary leaders to lead the charge and hopefully convince enough people to spring for the half cent tax to fund mass transit in St. Louis.

This isn't a partisan thing, its about what's right for the region as a whole and the patrons of mass transit as well. I hope to share objective information about how the campaign is run, the chances of passing the ballot measure, and call out the creeps should they rear their ugly heads. If you're not from St. Louis, please bear with me as this is an important issue. If you are from St. Louis, watch this space for updates.

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