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The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the tag “light rail”

Letter to editor opposing Metrolink expansion

I am writing again on one of my favorite topics, the foolishness of Metro Link expansion. I am afraid that while other local controversies such as the airport privatization and Better Together occupy our time, the Metro Link expansion will sneak through. Let us review the problems with this expansion:

First, it is paying huge sums of money for a transportation system that is obsolete. People no longer work as much in centralized fixed locations. Many more people work at home. Others travel from site to site as part of their jobs. Metro Link was made for a time when most office workers were employed downtown.

Second,, the trains almost never get you door to door. Often you need to drive to the station or connect with buses. This is inefficient and adds greatly to travel time.

Third, the Metro Link is very costly to operate. It would be far cheaper to subsidize rides for people on Uber or Lyft.

Fourth, Metro Link has proven unsafe. More people are reluctant to ride it due to safety concerns.

Fifth, it will not be possible to use trains from the old system on the new one. This is highly inefficient.

Proponents of light rail expansion point to economic development as a reason. This is a false and misleading argument. All of the economic development located anywhere near a Metro Link station would have occurred anyway. Cortex is not dependent on Metrolink. We need to stop using questionable inflated economic development claims to support a transportation system that is obsolete.

In a poll conducted some months ago, a huge majority of St. Louis Business Journal readers were opposed to Metro Link expansion. These people need to share their views with elected officials, the Metro Board, and other decision makers.

The Loop Trolley is a debacle. Metro Link expansion will dwarf that as a horrible decision.

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Trolley Again

A friend of mine is a businessman in the Loop who supports the trolley with his taxes. He attempted to find out the ridership levels of the trolley, called the Trolley Authority, and was declined an answer. He then called the feds who oversee the program. The average daily ridership since inception is nine people a day. Pitiful

Metro Link

Another recent story in the Post wrote that Metrolink ridership is down 20% in the last few years. That is a huge decrease. The article insightfully pointed out that crime alone is not the issue. Changes in the work climate including working at home, more part time jobs etc.also account for the drop. As I have pointed out numerous times, fixed route rapid transit is a thing of the past. We should be investing in ride sharing services instead of rail. Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink Failures Continue

According to the St. Louis Business Journal, Metrolink has lost 39 million riders since 2004. Why do we want to expand it? Isn’t doing over again that which did not work the sign of insanity? Written by Paul Dribin

The Future of Urban Public Transportation

The New York Times last week had an article which described the discussions being held by transportation planners about the future of urban transit. Many are beginning to adhere to my view that we should think about getting away from light rail and utilizing Uber or self driving cars. Critics say we don’t know when self driving cars will be readily available.

I am please to see there is a serious discussion about this subject. For most communities, light rail is simply too expensive and may not end up going where it needs to. More people are working at home and need transportation to travel considerable distances during the work day. Trains are also very expensive to maintain.

I would recommend that public transit companies partner with organizations such as Uber and Lyft or buy self driving cars when available rather than invest in expensive and obsolete rail systems. Written by Paul Dribin

Commute Times in St. Louis

A recent study has shown that St. Louis has a relatively high number of people whose commute is 90 minutes or more each way. On the surface this seems surprising. But these long commutes are not people driving in from Columbia or Cape but low income people who rely on public transportation.

Interestingly it is our region’s investment in Metrolink that contributes to the problem. Due to Metrolink we do not have a robust bus system which runs frequently and takes lots of routes. Think of how much better off we would be if everyone could get by bus to work in a 1/2 hour or less. It is possible with the right planning and leadership. Written by Paul Dribin

Let’s Get Priorities Right

I am constantly frustrated by the silly priorities of our region and the things we try to put effort into. The City of St. Louis is the murder capital of the country. Indeed some neighborhoods have a murder rate as high as the most dangerous third world countries. We have a huge amount of poverty, poor infrastructure, failing schools, poor public health, and a net loss of population. Our race relations are the joke of the country.

Instead of focusing on these issues we are concerned about Metrolink expansion, soccer stadiums, trolleys, and horse drawn carriages. Our government is hugely fragmented and dysfunctional. It’s no wonder we have problems. Written by Paul Dribin

Light Rail

St. Louis is going ahead and holding meetings with regard to the north-south expansion of metrolink. This is a farce. Light rail is extremely expensive and in St. Louis has been a dangerous mode of transportation. Furthermore, new technology such as ride sharing and driverless cars will make the technology obsolete. We need to invest short term in buses and cities developing some relationships with ride sharing company so that poor people can avail themselves of these services. Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink Safety Again

A big story today. Vince Schoemehl, Chair of Metro, the transit agency said that he thought portions of Metrolink are unsafe. That is an incredible statement for a person of his position. Are we sure we want to invest additional dollars in this operation? Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink Policing in the St. Louis Area

The Post Dispatch led by Tony Messenger has written a number of articles which focus on the problems of adequate policing on Metrolink. The gist of the story is that police officer assigned to patrol trains and platform were sitting in an office, texting, sleeping, etc. This is of course terrible.

What is worse however is the lack of cooperation shown by the county to Metrolink, Bi-State, the parent company, and to other units of policing. They came up with a silly ruling that the Metrolink police personnel could not collect fines because they were not official police. Consequently fines are not collected and thugs are having their way on the trains.

This lack of cooperation is the more major problem and again points to the fundamental problem in the St. Louis area; the proliferation and lack of cooperation of the various units of government. Let’s hope this can be a teaching moment for moving things forward. Written by Paul
Dribin

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