Metrolink our light rail system has been a favorite cause for progressives. We have heard all kinds of promises about how it would lead to economic development, cause St. Louis to become a world class city and cure cancer(just kidding). I believe it has been a failure, wasted hundreds of millions of dollars and increased crime. If you don’t believe me just ask merchants in the Loop or at Galleria. Recently someone was held up at gunpoint in broad daylight at the Metro station in Clayton, normally one of the safest cities in the region.
To make matters worse, efforts are now underway to expand Metrolink. There are many reasons why this is a bad idea. They include:
1. The cost is enormous
2. St. Louis is too sparsely populated to sustain the system
3. More people are working at home and don’t need to commute.
4. The job market is dispersed.
5. With light rail we are stuck with a given route. If conditions change there is no room for flexibility.
6. Self driving cars and van pools can be utilized to provide cheap and flexible transportation.
A vital public transportation system is still important. Metrolink has stood in the way of a viable bus system. I recommend lots of buses with flexibility in their routes, van pools, and other means of public transportation. The money spend on Metrolink can well be used to provide our region with a world class public transportation system.
Your astute observations are echoed by critics of light rail in cities across the country.