Monday, March 31, 2014


On April 4th, from 6:01 to 6:05 PM CDT (18:01 to 18:05), there will be a worldwide vigil for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

This will begin 3 months of action by Occupy Wall Street, Anonymous, and Worldwide Wave of Action. 

OPT INSTL encourages you to participate in the vigil, where ever you are, and whatever you doing-- stop! give the memory of this great man 4 of silence and meditation on the lessons we learned from him.

And to help focus on what we can ALL do to change this world for the better, following Dr. King's legacy of courage, leadership, and non-violent action!!!! 

Dr. King:

For more on Worldwide Wave of Action, please see:

Also, to learn more about the King family's trial against the US government for assassination:


Call them every time you ride!

 Demand they not raise fares!


Feel free to use and distribute this flyer, or create your own!


This flyer was created on OpenOffice.  The page format is .41 border for Left and Right.  .41 for Top and Bottom.  The space between columns is .70  The space between paragraphs is .6, using Arial font.

Cut and paste each side twice on the same page, with the page set to LANDSCAPE not portrait.  Make two sided copies and cut them in half.   (Don't copy the red lettered stuff.)

Or, make your own leaflet and hand them out! Do what feels right to you!  Be the change you want to see in the world!   

This leaflet has been edited three times, with changes each time.  You may have an older one.  


Metro raised fares July 1st with no improvements in service! They are asking for $5 Million in increased fares-- the same amount Metro spent in 2013 in "Contributions to Outside Entities" (political campaign contributions)! As transit riders we have a lot of time on our hands- waiting for the bus and riding it. AND IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE!

Mon-Fri 7:30-4:30 pm
Metro Customer Service 314.231.2345

Call them with your questions, suggestions, complaints, and information about yourself and your public transit needs!
  • When will more Metrolink services be built in north St. Louis-- the area with the most riders, and the most transit dependent riders? Why is there no north-south Metrolink line?
  • Why are there no bathrooms at Metrolink stations and Bus Transfer centers? When will bathrooms be installed at existing stations? (Metro could rent Port a Potties for $100 a day. If they put in one at North Hanley and charged 50 cents a use they would easily make their money back, Port a Potties would be a temporary solution, but at least there would a toilet! )
  • Why has Metro refused to negotiate a new union contract with their drivers for 3 years? Why no raise for 6 years?
  • Why haven't they installed phone charging stations at Bus and Metrolink stations?
  • Why aren't discounted (or free) passes available to low-income people, the unemployed, and people on government assistance?
  • Why doesn't Metro survey its bus riders to find out their riders needs and concerns? (They only survey on Metrolink once a year, but buses are the biggest share of their business!)



All of Metro's money comes from the public: Federal funds from income tax, State and local funds from sales, property, and income tax, and fares from public transit riders. Even if you don't ride Metro, you pay for it! St. Louis deserves a great public transit system! We do not get the service we are paying for! WE SHOULD BE TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO WITH OUR MONEY! Metro needs to be separated from Bi-State Development Agency! And from private interests and “business development” altogether! Metrolink stations need to be built where they are needed the most, NOT subsidizing corporate and private interests. Metro spent $5 million last year on “contributions to outside entities”. $5 Million is the amount Metro is asking riders to pay in increased fares over the next two years! A public transit agency should not be making political or philanthropic contributions. And Metro CEO's should not be paid $325,000 a year, or exchange Metro “business development” for promises of future political campaign contributions. We, the people, must OCCUPY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION to make it work for us! To Occupy means to publicly monitor, question, investigate, and demand change!

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments: (314) 421-4220 These local businessmen and politicians (including Mayor Slay) control where Metro public transit is developed.
County Executive (314) 615-7016 2010's Prop A was sold to voters as a bond for Metro Public Transit! Prop A collects $78 million a year in the county, and $11 million in the city. We need to demand a public audit and complete transparency on the monies from Prop A!
Citizens for Modern Transit (314) 231-7272 Ask them what they are doing to advocate better transit service for the people that depend on it the most?
The Federal Transit Authority (202) 366-1959 Ask them to investigate Metro's budget and spending! You can file a complaint anonymously and track the investigation through a secret PIN.


PLEASE PRINT AND SHARE THIS LEAFLET Occupy Public Transportation in St. Louis



Dear Metro:

You offer employer subsidies for discount or free passes

Have you investigated offering these same subsidies and discounts to low-income families and unemployed people?

Have you discussed this with social service and philanthropic agencies, local, state and federal?

What about passes to low-income high school students and community college students?

If you haven't, please direct me to the proper agencies.




Dear Metro:

Did you read about the kid that found a way for the U.S. Government to save $400 million a year simply by switching to the Garamond font?  (I think in the link address there, where it says 300 million, that is pounds or Euros, this is a Daily Mail link)

Well, Metro, you print a lot of stuff with red and blue ink.  And you print a lot of bus schedules, and you wouldn't need as many if you posted them on every stop.

As I said here:

Those red and blue inks could be done in Black and White, with a little note saying "Metro is saving you money and becoming more environmentally friendly by using only black ink."


More musings on


It occurred to me this afternoon that a transportation district can have it's own security, and the police are heavily involved in Metro's honor system.  Instead of having turnstiles and tokens, they let the police write tickets when the honor system is checked. (In my experience, the more black men on the Metrolink, the more likely it is to get inspected for ticket dodgers.)

It seems pretty likely that the Loop Transportation District Security and local police will be used to eject anyone "undesirable" from the Loop.

It's not about a trolley, it's about control for profit.  Profit for the "Local 1%"

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Metro doesn't get to decide where bus stops should go, the city and counties do, which is why the bus stop at Page and Lindbergh for the #94 let's you off in the middle of a cloverleaf, or why there is bus stop in front of the crosswalk in the Delmar Loop.

But there is a lot more that Metro could do.  In large parts of the county there are no sidewalks, and in the city the sidewalks are often in really bad repair.  And in any part of the city, in the winter when it snows, the snowplows push everything on to the sidewalks.

There are a lot of bus stops that are downright dangerous.  Especially for handicapped people and families with small children.  There is a stop in the College Hill area where people have to walk under an overpass, with no sidewalks and just a dirt patch.  The ground is littered with broken glass.  There are almost no businesses nearby (just big industrial patches). 

And all over the city and county, there are no schedules or routes posted.  No fare information.  I was told that this was "too expensive" (although it appears no feasibility studies have been done to determine just what the cost would be) and that people would "steal the bus schedules".

Well, if there were a schedule at every stop, why would you need to steal one?

Here is my plan (and please feel free to laugh hysterically at my child-like drawing done in MS Paint-- I tried to get that pencil tool to go straight, to no avail, LOL!):

Two sheets of heavy acrylic, with the appropriate sized holes to bolt the acrylic to the metal post, just as the bus stop sign is attached.  Across the top would be a heavy plastic seam that fits across the sheets to keep moisture out.  In between the sheets the bus schedule and route --just the same ones that are already printed and available, with a note on what the closest stop on the schedule was to the stop the person was at.

How hard would this be? Please let me know, Metro.  If you worked to make this part of your "Planning and System Development" you would could use those funds, instead of monies to "improve existing services", which you have already admitted you don't have.

Come on, Metro.  Do something for your people that will matter! 


Dear Metro (in particular, Chief of Planning and System Development):

1) What funds are going into developing sanitation facilities (toilets) at Metro bus transfer centers and Metrolink stations?  What consideration is being given to this most basic of human needs?

2) You say that one million people ride public transit every year.  How do you count the number of individual people that ride?  I can see where it would be easy to count your 55 million boardings, but how are you counting individuals?  Do you do surveys? Do you know what neighborhoods use your services the most? What are your busiest buses?  What are your busiest transfer centers?  What are your least-used bus and train lines?

3) You say that you are connecting people with jobs, yet your own maps (actually the East West Gateway Council of Governments' maps) of areas with the lowest ownership of cars are underserved, as are many of the areas with the most jobs.  The connectivity between the areas is also badly served in all but a few places (Central West End, Downtown).  Shouldn't that be your highest priority? What are you doing to change that?

4) When will more Metrolink service be available in north Saint Louis, and south city areas such as South Grand and Dutchtown?  Can you provide the public and OPTINSTL with maps of existing tracks, development plans, and feasibility studies?  If so, how do we access them?

5) You allow universities and employers to subsidize transit passes for employees, seemingly at their discretion.  You also sell "semester passes" to college students. Do you have any plans in development to offer passes at a discount to low-income people on welfare, and the unemployed?  Have you reached out to these agencies to look for ways to provide low cost passes to the disadvantaged-- which would seem to be your largest rider base?

6)  Can you point me to the official story of how the proposed St. Charles Metrolink was rejected? What lessons did Metro learn from this? Also, why was a train put into Shrewsbury when north Saint Louis has the greatest need?  Can you offer any assistance to the public and OPTINSTL on how to make sure future trains are not blocked?

7) Many of your bus stops are badly placed and many are not marked with the identifying information for the bus lines that stop there. None of them have schedules, routes, or fares posted.  There seems to be a lack of coordination and planning with the cities (who decide where the bus stops can be placed) on trash cans, lighting, sidewalk repair and so forth.  Especially in low-income areas where families with young children ride the bus, this seems like it should be an obvious priority.  What plans are in place to create better bus stops?

In particular, to post route, schedule and fares?  I have suggested two sheets of acrylic, three sided (the top would be sealed to prevent moisture from precipitation) with holes at the top and bottom, to be bolted to the metal poles that the bus stops signs are mounted on.  I was told it was too expensive.  Can you direct me to the feasibility study that was done that determined this cost was too high?


8) Are there any plans to extend the Customer service information?  It is nice that you started the phone and email alerts, but many low-income people do not have data service on their phones.  When people need to reach Metro the most, it is usually late at night and on weekends.

9) You are raising fares by 5%, but offer no explanation of how the three fare options all will equal the same amount of money -- 2.5 million dollars per year.  Can you direct me to the studies that were done, and how each of the three options totals up?

10) You also own Downtown St. Louis Airport, and the Arch and Riverboat Trams.  How much of the revenues generated from those entities are used for public transportation?  Have you investigated selling these entities to private companies?  If so, have you done any discovery of what impact this would have on the public transit system?  Would sale of these entities provided you with needed funds to improve existing services?

11) Can you explain why there is not more outreach work done-- such as rider surveys, and having Metro officials available on buses and Metrolink to make feedback more convenient to the riders?  To come to your hearings, those of us that don't have the money to buy bus passes have to pay to come, in addition to having our day disrupted.  And you would reach a much greater portion of customers by coming to them.


12) Why doesn't Metro require employees that are not drivers or train operators to ride public transportation from the closest park and ride location from their homes, at least once a week?

13) In 2009, a year after the economic collapse in the U.S., and after four years- by your own statistics-- of increasing ridership, you had to severely cut services.  Do more riders equal more revenue?  And how so?  Can you direct me to the mathematical algorithms and statistical models (excuse me if my terminology is wrong) that you use to determine how many riders and at what fare structure you need to increase services?

14) Your website says that for every $1 a community invests in public transit, it receives $4 in federal money via Metro/Bi-State.  Can you explain to me exactly how that works?  Where does the $1 come from, and who gets paid the $4 in return? Also, is this true equally, for all communities?  And if so, does that mean that lower-income areas are lower served, because they have fewer dollars to contribute?

14) The Loop Trolley Transportation District was just awarded $25 million from an Urban Circulator Grant.  The reasons for the Public Transit riders to oppose the proposed Trolley are numerous.  What partnerships are Metro building with local communities to put Urban Circulators in areas that really need them?  How much exploration has been done on Urban Circulators?


That is all for now.  If you can respond to these questions by email, please do.  If I need to come to Metro and pick up the hard copy print outs, please let me know.  If there is another agency or person I need to address, please let me know who they are.

Thank you.

EDIT: This was emailed to the Chief of Planning and System Development.


The Loop Trolley got $25 million from the Department of Transportation Urban Circulator Grants,

despite the fact that it barely meets the requirements for the funds.

More interesting is that a lawsuit was filed against it in November, and the news articles about the grant money, do not mention this.!/content/33497/loop_trolley_status_update?coverpage=4259

The lawsuit is very enlightening.  You get one vote per acre of land owned, even if you are a non-resident.  Guess who owns most of property in the Loop, and guess who had the most votes?

Property owners got to cast one vote per acre of land they owned -- giving Joe Edwards, the suit said, the most votes.   Quoted from the Beacon article, linked above.

That $25 million would  have been much better for an DOT Urban Circulator in Grand Center, from the Metrolink to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. BLVD., or as I suggested before, downtown or South Grand/ Cherokee.

The Loop Trolley, the "Folly Trolley", needs to be shutdown.

Let Saint Louis City Mayor Francis Slay, and University City Mayor Shelley Welsch, know how you feel:

Shelley Welsch

7141 Delmar Blvd.
(314)505-8606 (ofc.)
(314)727-6852 (hm.)

Friday, March 28, 2014


I hope you are reading this because you want to live in a city with a great public transportation system.

I started this blog on March 24th when I heard about the upcoming fare increase in July.

I rely on public transportation, and occasional rides from friends.

I am white, but I currently live in Riverview Gardens, about 2 miles from the Riverview Transfer Center.

The difference between bus and train service south of the "Delmar Divide" is shocking.  Especially considering that north St. Louis city and county have the largest population of people that rely on and use public transportation.

I am tired of Metro's failure to provide decent service, and the obvious racism of the East West Gateway Council of Government , the people that tell Metro where they can put a train or bus, the "Local 1%", the "Good Ole Boy Network."

I don't have a plan (yet), but I am researching Metro and writing as much as I can, and sharing it.

I believe we can change the system so that it serves us better! I hope you do to!

If you want to do something else, or take this from a different angle, please let me know and I will post your link on this blog.  I just want this system changed.  It doesn't matter to me who does it or how. there is a lot to do.

If you want to use anything on this blog, please do with full permission.  Spread the word!

If you have any ideas for action, suggestions about what Metro can do (tell them too!), information, or if you want to share your "stores from the bus", please email




If you have the cell phone minutes, call Metro every chance you get.  Complain, make suggestions about improvements and routes.  Ask them to explain how they spend their money, where it comes from, how they make decisions.

(In the sidebar of this blog is a list of questions I have about their service. In the text box OCCUPY METRO EVERY TIME YOU RIDE. **)


For Bathrooms:
Yesterday and today I talked to two different people that suggested petitions.  One was a woman that wanted to petition for more bathrooms.  She suggested riding the trains and asking everyone that needed to go to the bathroom at that moment to sign the petition.

I think sign and survey: how long do you ride? how long do you have to go without facilities? have you every had to get off the bus or train to go? Do you have a medical condition?

I talked to a woman today that has diabetes and said the buses are torture for her because of her bathroom needs.  Another man told me that he saw a woman with a little girl that needed to go the bathroom really bad.  She tried to appeal to the Metrolink security to let her little girl use the bus driver's bathroom, but he wouldn't allow it.  The little girl went behind the building.  What else was she gonna do?

For Bus Service:
Another woman told me about how 12 years ago the residents of Riverview Gardens successfully petitioned to get the #61 bus.  There used to only be a bus The Riverview Express.  It only ran a few hours and not too many stops.

She said they really had to work hard, though.  And a lot of people had to go to the meetings-- the inconvenient monthly public meetings for addressing rider issues.

Here is the link for the monthly meetings.  Really informative-- where are they, when do they start, when do they end?  No information at all, other than dates.  Of course, it is obvious they really don't want to hear from us.

I will find out when and where these meeting are, but calling them to ask is another way to JAM THE PHONE LINES!

I will also be looking into starting petitions- what it requires, how to file it, and so on.  Keep checking back for more.  Or if you know how, please email


The Board meetings are even more inconvenient, but attending these in large numbers, even if no one spoke, would carry "weight in numbers".  Because John Nations (the CEO of Metro that the bus is "too inconvenient for", because his time is SO IMPORTANT) is at these meetings.  We need to make him look in our eyes when his agency lies to us about the "great service" it provides.

These meeting are really inconvenient too- 8 AM tomorrow is the next one.



Call or email, if you have the cell phone service, or write a letter to snail mail to Metro/Bi-State about problems with services- including route, schedules, bus stops, etc.

**Ask questions and demand accountability! WE DESERVE DECENT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!

Why don't bus drivers sell day passes the same way they sell two hour transfer tickets (with the $7.50 being paid to the new fare boxes)?
Why aren't 30 day and 7 day passes sold at bus transfer centers? (A monthly or weekly pass is not the same as a 30 day or 7 day pass.)
How are routes, schedules, and fares determined?
When are rider surveys conducted?
How often does the average rider use the bus or train?
How long is the average Metro trip?
How many transfers on the average trip?
How much "wait time" between buses/trains on the average trip?
What fare does the average rider pay, and how?
What is the average rider's income?
What areas use the buses the most?
Who determines where bus stops are placed and who maintains them?
Why don't bus stops have route and schedule information?
Why are so few bus stops covered or provided with trash cans?
Why are there no bathroom at bus and metrolink stations?
Why are the telephone information centers open only 45 hours a week, weekdays, between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM?
What portion of Metro's budget goes to buses and trains, and what funds go to Downtown St. Louis Airport and the Arch trams and Arch Riverboats?
What portion of Metro employees use public transportation?


And most importantly:


EDIT: Please read this post on the recent government "Urban Circulator" grant.

There is a lot to learned about how Public Transit really works (that is, not for the people that need it) by examining the proposed Loop Trolley.

The Loop Trolley is ridiculous.  Its real purpose is not to provide transit service. The Federal Government gave it $12 million in funds from a grant that was designed to revitalize urban areas.  The Loop does not need to be revitalized, and it is barely urban.

The Loop Trolley is about getting more "local tourists" (white suburbanites and rural dwellers that park and ride the Metrolink to Cardinals games and other big events downtown) to come drink beer and eat cheeseburgers at Blueberry Hill.

The Loop Trolley is the creation of just one man, Joe Edwards, and without him it would have been dismissed years ago.

Since learning that Metro is really about developing the Bi-State area (see this post about the people in charge of Metro) to "attract talented professionals and entrepreneurs" I have come to understand how the Loop Trolley ever got off the ground.

And what a mess it will create if it succeeds.

Joe Edwards is notorious for his hatred of panhandlers.  He is behind those signs you see in the Loop that say "Don't give money to panhandlers, it encourages them to drink alcohol and take drugs." (I'll get the exact wording next time I am in the Loop.  I really find those sign hilarious.  As the owner of a bar, Joe Edwards encourages people to drink alcohol!)

The real problem for people like Edwards is that panhandlers are generally poor people, usually black, that come to the Loop from low-income, urban neighborhoods, and ask the college students and suburban tourists for money.

That is why the Loop got rid of all the bus benches and covered bus stops.  That is why there is only one bus that runs down Delmar, the #97, and why there are only three bus stops per each side of the street, between Skinker and the "Lion Gates" by U. City Hall.  (The stops are not well placed either- the worst is the eastbound stop located at the crosswalk at Westgate and Delmar.  Metro doesn't decide where bus stops go, the city or town does.  More on that in another post.)

I don't think Edwards is a racist in terms of hating people based on their skin color.  He and Nelly are well known bowling partners, and I've heard from reliable sources that it is Edwards that drives Chuck Berry to Berry's monthly Blueberry Hill gig.

But like most people, white and black and all other colors, he suffers from what I call "cultural racism."  Basically, the lifestyle that a person was born into is the best, other cultures are judged by how compatible or incompatible they are to that culture. And he was born to the predominant culture in our society. And like most people that live in that world, he has no need to examine the privileges that were handed to him at birth. 

He may be more of hippie than those other white, privileged, suburban businessmen and developers that head the East West Gateway Council of Governments, but they are all on the same page and getting money from the same banks and Federal funding.  They are members of the "Ole Boy Network", the legal gang of thugs that runs the city.  A local version of Gang 1% that run the world.

Metro/ Bi-State is all about attracting more people like Edwards to Saint Louis.

And that is not necessarily a good thing for transit riders.

Edwards has formed the Loop Trolley Transportation District.  Why didn't they go through Metro?  Because this way Edwards can be in charge of it.  In the same way that the East West Council of Governments tells Metro where it can go (or try to go-- the cities and towns have some say in it, which is how the train to St. Charles was killed), Edwards can direct the Loop Trolley development.

It seems pretty certain that the first thing that will happen is the #97 will be re-routed out of the Loop.  The trolley is for the Metrolink.  In fact, it will pass by three Metrolink stations- Forest Park, Skinker/Wash. U. and Delmar.  Why?

So that those "suburban local tourists" don't have to set foot on a public bus to go to the Loop from the Metrolink.

I recall very clearly when the Loop started to have its annual summer problem with flash-mobs of inner-city, black, high-school kids back in 2009.

When it was suggested that what those kids need is somewhere to go to have fun, that maybe the problem was that Saint Louis continues to ignore the $32,000 a year income gap between the north and south side of the "Delmar Divide" .  That as businessmen, maybe they could work to create more job opportunities, provide outreach to low income areas, and just generally focus on coming up with solutions, the response was pretty much this:

"Get 'em out of here! We don't need them!" (Said one local business man, who, ironically, hires the most black people and also attracts the largest portion of black patrons compared to other Loop restaurants.)  The sentiment was echoed widely by the other businessmen.

I also found it confusing that so many of the businessmen were focusing on Metro's responsibility and complaining to them, simply because the kids ride the train to get to the Loop.  Why would public transportation be held accountable for where people ride it?

But now that I know who Public Transportation agencies work, it makes sense.  Basically, local businessmen are Metro's bosses.  Metro's primary function is business development.  Running the bus and Metrolink are actually secondary functions, even if it is their most time-consuming function.

Mr. Edwards has figured out a way to be his Trolley's boss. 

It is ironic that around the time the Trolley was getting its' $12 million, Metro had to be bailed out with another grant for the same amount. Not that Trolley money could have been used to improve existing service. Metro was not eligible for that Trolley grant.

(Unless it was going to develop the Trolley, and as many bad things as I have to say about Metro, I do believe that if they had developed a Trolley plan it would have been in an area more suited to it-- probably downtown, but possibly South Grand and Cherokee, or thereabouts, which, in many opinions is where a street-car would really make a difference.)

The way government public transportation money is allocated, you can't use "development" funds for existing services.  That is because, just as businessmen are in charge of Metro at a local level, big business and big oil are in charge of government at the federal level.  (If only Occupy Wall Street had succeeded!)

It is in the best interests of St. Louis public transportation to oppose the Loop Trolley.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I can't seem to let go of this bit from the Metro website (from this post).  It contains so much editorial (called "marketing") and vague statements of "fact".

Why is transit important?
Great cities have great transit systems. The St. Louis region is a
wonderful place in which to live, work, and play, but in recent decades
its population and job growth has stagnated. To change this, the
region must move forward and boldly redefine itself as a catalyst for
entrepreneurism, an attractor of talented young professionals, and a
place that considers the needs of all its citizens. Transit alone will not
make this happen, but it does play a vital role in shaping the region’s
quality of life and growing its economy. Here’s how . . .
Transit moves thousands of
people every day to work,
school, and life:
More than 50 million times
each year, someone boards a
MetroBus, MetroLink train or
Metro Call-A-Ride van
Most Metro customers ride to
work or school
Metro customers in Missouri alone
earn more than $2.2 billion in wages
Metro carries nearly 2 million riders a a
year to special events

Let's break this down OPT IN STL style:

"Great cities have great transit systems."
Move to Paris if you want a great transit system.  Or Chicago.

"The St. Louis region is a wonderful place in which to live, work, and play, but in recent decades its population and job growth has stagnated."
We don't have to explain that this is great place.  Like the author of this document, a big chunk of your paycheck must come from promoting the City of St. Louis.  Hell, we don't even have to ride the bus if we want to go to the zoo or out to eat or to City Museum.  We make enough money to buy a car. And eat. And own a house.  In a neighborhood without any bus lines.

If you live in College Hill, have never traveled, and feel lucky that you didn't get shot at walking to the local store, passing block after block of crumbling, neglected, buildings, to try to find something to eat on your $5.00 worth of food stamps, riding the bus with your last $6 and 4 to 6 hours of your time to apply for a job that pays minimum wage, you understand what we mean,right? WONDERFUL PLACE!
Now, for the second half of this sentence: "recent decades means in the last twenty years or more."  So if you are under 20, you don't remember when the region hadn't stagnated in population or job growth.  

In fact, if you are over 20, you may not remember that.  But hey, it's Metro's job to make this place sound great, and also make it clear that the inefficient transit system is not our fault! Jeesh, we're a bunch of Metro executives! We go home at 5 o'clock, and not on the bus!

To change this, the
region must move forward and boldly redefine itself as a catalyst for
entrepreneurism, an attractor of talented young professionals, and a
place that considers the needs of all its citizens.

To change this "the region" must move forward. It's not Metro's responsibility,  It's dependent on "THE REGION".

Region: extensive, continuous part of a surface, space, or body: a region of the earth.

We also don't know what it means to"boldly redefine" ourselves, here at Metro.  We just follow the same transit plan that every other city is following. We can barely keep the current transit system running, even with the 2.5 million in additional fares we are going to be jacking you for, over the next two years.

But we do know that "the region" need to become the "catalyst" 

1. a substance that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly, 2.a person or event that quickly causes change or action)
"For entrepreneurism"
1.a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. employer of productive labor; contractor.

"An attractor of talented young professionals" :
Okay, transit rider, that does NOT MEAN YOU. In fact, you are the person we are going to sell to those "talented young professionals" for cheap labor (incarceration by lack of public transit) so that they can realize their dreams of riches and fame!
And now, for the last line, my favorite part (sarcasm alert!):

and a place that considers the needs of all its citizens":

Look, people, we already explained that we only consider the needs of citizens that were born wealthy or have money!  We proved that when put a train line to Shrewsbury for Richard Gephardt's people to ride to Cardinals and Blues games downtown, instead of a train in North St. Louis.

Stop complaining, at least you can get to your minimum wage job.  What else were you going to do with that four to six hours a day you spend on the bus?

When we say "all of its citizens" we only mean the Slays and the Nations and the other wealthy white men in the "Good Ole Boy Network" Gang.

We at Metro spend a lot of time and money writing this crap, we can't be expected to provide good service, too!

More than 50 million times
each year, someone boards a
MetroBus, MetroLink train or
Metro Call-A-Ride van

We can count boardings, so this number is probably pretty accurate.It's really the only thing we at Metro can count accurately, without doing some actual work-- like riding the buses and trains and conducting rider surveys, etc.

Most Metro customers ride to
work or school

This is pretty obvious.  Where do most people go everyday? We at Metro just like to brag and we paid someone in marketing to come up with as many statistical blurbs that make us look good as possible.

Metro customers in Missouri alone
earn more than $2.2 billion in wages

We pulled this number out of our *ss.  We gather almost no information from our customers.  This is based on statistical models.  As Mark Twain famously said "Lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Metro carries nearly 2 million riders a a
year to special events

We mean Mardi Gras and the Muny shuttle and stuff. We don't ever create shuttles for jobs or jobs fairs.  We can't actually count how many individual people ride, just that we have 2 million boardings for those special shuttles.  We also don't bother to tell you if that 2 million is included in the 50 million statistic for overall boardings per year.


Metro says they love feedback, but they don't make themselves accessible to the public.

These "hearings" seem designed to be inconvenient to their riders.  Unless you are in the neighborhood, or somewhere right on the train line, and have time off during the week at lunch or during rush hour, you probably won't go.

If they really want responses to their "Fare Increase Options" they should bring those things to the riders.  If they had set up at a metrolink or bus transfer center they would have gotten many more responses.  They could have talked to their customers.  Gotten real feedback.

I don't work for Metro, and I am out handing out flyers, and I have heard so many stories today.  I had one twenty minute wait time between transfers and one 25 minute wait time between buses, and I talked to fifty people.  That is twenty more than I saw show up for the whole 2 hour period at the Metro Fare Increase Hearing at City Hall, and in less time.

They also could have had representatives ride the buses and trains and hand out those surveys.

Metro, your actions speak louder than all those fancy words and fluffy statistics on your website.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Buses aren't just slow and exhausting, they are dehydrating.

This is a common complaint and topic of conversation (second only to fares and slow service) about riding Metro transit.

My average trip by public transportation-- from the time I leave my front door, and including all the waiting between transfers-- is two hours.

An hour before I leave I stop drinking.  I'll go to the bathroom a few times, and always right before I leave.

Because at most Metrolink stations and Metro bus centers, there are no bathrooms.  And if you have to get off the bus to go to the bathroom, you are going to be late.  (And you might have a really long wait between buses.  Also, you may not be able to find a place that will let you use their bathroom without buying something, and if all you have is bus fare, well, then...)

If I am going somewhere for awhile, no problem re-hydrating.  But when I am going to a lot of places, with a lot of stops along the way (like job-hunting), I just go thirsty.

It is ridiculous, RIDICULOUS! and shameful that Metro does not address this.  They have all these excuses to make, and blame to place elsewhere, but USING THE TOILET IS A BASIC HUMAN NEED!

Metro is planning to use some of its development money (which the government does not allow them to use to improve existing services) to re-do the Civic Center bus bay.  Apparently, there are 16 bus lines that come through there and only 8 bays.  Even though the bus bay is not overcrowded, and runs fine the way it is.

(There is enough room for the buses to park in the bay while driver's take their breaks.  I catch the #74 there frequently and the driver's always have a 20 to 40 minute break-- at least in my observations.  Usually they will let people board and wait on the bus before they leave to go on their breaks.  Yet another reason to love bus drivers.)

Metro needs to address this issues and dump that plan for the Civic Center Bus Bay.  I am sorry that Metro executives are so clueless on what their priorities should be.

The North Hanley station needs bathrooms the most.  I'd be willing to bet that some of the longest transit trips have a stop at North Hanley.  To get from north St Louis city or county to one of those jobs in the county and Earth City and other middle-class suburbs, you have to get to North Hanley station.

And there are NO BATHROOMS.

Even a few porta-potties would be an improvement!  But there needs to be serious consideration to this MOST BASIC HUMAN NEED! There should be bathrooms, at the very least, at EVERY SINGLE METROLINK AND BUS TRANSFER CENTER!

Really, Metro, what is it going to take for you to wake up to the reality of life on your buses?

EDIT: Hey Metro, like Los Angeles, you could charge 25 cents to use the Metro bathrooms.


I wasn't here in 2005, but I sure got an earful about the proposed Metrolink to St. Charles.

I'm white, and for reasons I have never understood, a lot of people (black and white, rich and poor) think I am wealthy.   Or from a wealthy background.  (Neither is true.)

In 2008 I was working at a place where an older white man from St. Charles was my boss.  Basically, with a guy like this, he assumed I had the same opinions he did.  (He was a good boss to work for, but secretly I found his personal life and opinions revolting.  He was my boss, however, so I admit I usually kept my mouth shut.)

One day he regaled me of the tale of how he and many other white, middle-class, "concerned citizens" successfully fought the Metrolink expansion into his neighborhood.

"We couldn't let those people come to our neighborhood," he said, after admitting a Metrolink train would have been a good addition to his county.  "Look what they did to Florissant." (The train doesn't run to Florissant, but whatever.)

(If I have to spell it out "those people" were low-income, urban, African-Americans.  He didn't use the "n-word".  At least not to me.)

I really wondered, when he told me that, why Metro didn't fight harder to get that train up there?

Turns out Metro has no power on where the train goes.  Guys like my former boss do.

See this post about the East West Gateway Council of Governments for more on that.

At the Fare Increase "hearing" one of the Metro Executives that lives in St. Charles told me she had been "heartbroken" that the train was opposed.  "My neighbors fought it!" she exclaimed.  (I think I have already covered that Metro executives do not live in neighborhoods served by public transit, and if they do, rarely use it anyhow.)


At the Increased Fare "Hearing" (they don't listen, so I don't know why they call it that) I learned about the group that is true enemy of the public transit rider.

The East West Gateway Council of Governments.

Go have a look at this page:

That's the Board of Directors.  24 people, most of whom are white men that have never ridden a bus in their life, unless it was some marketing and publicity stunt.  (There are only 6 African-Americans, and only one woman on the whole board.)

Until yesterday, I thought Bi-State and Metro were all about public transportation.  I thought it was a little strange that Metro also owns St. Louis Downtown airport in Cahokia, and the Arch Riverboats and Trams.

Turns out that back in 1950, one of the first things Bi-State did was form the Metropolitan Sewer District.  Why? Because Metro's true function is to "develop" the region to create more openings for business development (no, that does not necessarily mean more jobs, better wages, and a better quality of life).  Metro is just a funnel for government funds.

I haven't had a chance to read through the whole website yet, but there are some really obvious conclusions to be made, simply by looking at who is in charge.

It is difficult to look at the picture of say, Chairman Steve Ehlman, a St. Charles businessman, and wonder if he isn't the reason there is no train to St. Charles and surrounding counties. (See this post on the "heroes" of St. Charles.)

That might seem kind of racist, huh? Judging him because he is an upper-middle class, suburban, white, businessman?   Kind of like judging a black man because he has saggy trousers and grills?

Except a guy like the Chairman is basically wearing his gang colors.  This is Gang "Ole-Boy Network".  And you, public transit rider, are NOT invited to the country club, unless you are bussing the tables and mopping the floors.

See, if you have a permanent population that lives at poverty level, doesn't have access to decent jobs, healthcare, housing, and who rely on crappy public transportation, employers have a nice pool of people that will work for any wage, in any conditions.

"Don't send your jobs to China! We got a bunch of people that work for next to nothing!  And don't worry that they will be hanging out in your neighborhood after work, they have a two hour bus ride to work each way.  We'll keep the trains out of your neighborhood and out of their neighborhood."  (See image, below)

Incarceration by lack of decent public transit.

You don't even have to put up barbed wire fences.

Keep checking back.  I am going to be looking into these people more closely in the future.  And how they operate.

East-West Gateway Council of Governments
One Memorial Dr., Ste 1600
St. Louis, MO  63102
phone:  (314) 421-4220 or (618) 274-2750
    fax: (314) 231-6120


At yesterday's public hearing on the Fare Increase, OPT IN STL (me) handed out flyers with this blog address to several Metro executives.

One of the upper level (white, upper middle class, male) executives commented, after I introduced myself as "his worst nightmare", that I was Metro's dream come true.

"We love feedback!"

OPT IN STL detailed many of the improvements that could be made, and suggested that Metro read this website for more.

After every suggestion for improvement, the executives responded with "you should send that in to our customer service website."
(This one in particular:

People, this is what I am talking about.  I am doing this on my own time and my own dime.  I have ALREADY written all this stuff down and provided you with the information to access it.

Is Metro too lazy to read?  We've already determined that they don't use their own services.(

And instead of conducting rider surveys, or holding the hearings at bus and metrolink transfers centers, which would be far more convenient for the people that use their service, and get a much higher return of surveys and feedback, they hold only three hearings at inconvenient times, in inconvenient places.  (They didn't even post that many signs about the hearing.  Only a few at the main Metrolink stations.)

Apparently they don't know how to use the internet either.

When you hold a public hearing, and 30 people show up, OPT IN STL thinks that maybe Metro should be prepared to actually listen to (instead of talk at) those people.

Metro should be prepared to do the legwork to get the information they need.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


If you want to ride your bike at a speed of 11 miles per hour, pace yourself alongside a city bus.

One of the other 30 or so civilians that attended the Metro Fare Increase Hearing at City Hall today related a story of riding a bike alongside a bus and continually being passed, and then passing a bus until they both reached their destination at the same time.

The man normally clocks about 11 miles per hour on his bike.

"That's right," a Metro executive confirmed.  "A city bus averages 11 miles per hour, exactly!"

Metro should make that their new slogan "City buses, no faster than a bicycle."


The #40 bus runs down North Broadway, from Riverview Transfer center to Catalan Loop.

I ride it from Riverview, and get off at either Saint Louis (to walk over the bridge to Old North) or downtown to get another bus or the Metrolink.

I see a lot on that bus.  At night and on weekends I am usually one of only two or three white people.  But during the day, in the early afternoon, a lot of white men board.

They mostly just got out of jail, and are probably staying in shelters, or maybe even homeless. They get off work at the dusthouse (or workhouse, I guess it is called now), and go to Gregg's bar or straight to a shelter.

I have no problem with these men, but I don't like the things they bring with them: obvious, visible lice on some of the men, and bed bugs on the bus itself. 

"Bed bug" is misleading.  The bugs aren't confined to beds.  They use sensors that detect body heat and pheromones to find their prey (mammals).  In houses, they wait until you are motionless and warm, usually while you are sleeping, to feed on you.  Hence the name "bed bug", although they are more likely to nest in the bed frame, other nearby furniture, or the wall (especially near electrical outlets).

In cool temperatures (below 60F) they hibernate, and can do so for many months.  The only thing that can kill them is exposure to very high temperatures, or very low temperatures, and even then the exposure has to last more than an hour.

Some people have had luck with 91 percent rubbing alcohol, but the hard thing about getting rid of them is that the tiny ones can be smaller than the tip of pencil.  So you have to saturate everything with alcohol.

They are mostly tiny and almost invisible to the eye.  The babies are actually clear, or translucent.  As they get older they turn brown, unless they have just fed.  Then they are red.

They can get as big as the tip of a pencil eraser.  When you see one that big, it is safe to assume that hundreds or thousands of the tiny ones are nearby.

I've seen a bed bug, one of the big ones, on the #40 for certain once.  I wish I'd saved it and photographed it.  There was one other time when I think I saw one, but it was on the wall, down below, in the row of double seats.

When I said "#40 the bed bug bus" to the Metro people at the Fare Increase Hearing, they became outraged that I would make such an insult!  Did I have proof? They have clean buses! Surely I was mistaken.

One of the Exec's bragged that on his watch all the cockroaches on public transit had been exterminated.  (Well, you still see those sometimes, too, but thankfully not too often.)

I explained to him how difficult they were to kill and he said he was going to look into it.  I hope they do.

But what I really wish is that the people that make all the decisions about the buses actually rode them.
And not just during the day on weekdays, but at different times of the day or night, and on the most travelled lines, which are mainly in low income areas.

 Metro, get to know your buses and your riders!


At today's public hearing about the Metro fare increases, one of the questions I asked the Metro Representatives was if they rode the buses themselves.

They all had such cute, humorous stories.  Like the big-time Executive that picks a bus line to ride once or twice a month, because "it's my job".  One time, he thought he'd see if he could get off, get take-away food, and get back on.

"They just laughed at me," he said.  "Didn't even take me seriously.  But I was able to get on and off."

Of course, he didn't have to worry about paying the babysitter extra if the food was late and he missed the bus.  He didn't have to worry about his pass expiring and having to pay another $2 or $3 for another transfer. He didn't have to eat his food during the 20 minute (or more) wait for his next bus connection, or let it grow cold until he finally made it home.  It was all just for fun.

Another executive, Jessica Mefford-Miller, Chief of Planning and System Development, found my question offensive.  How dare I question her about her use of public transit?  How dare I suggest that Metro Executives should have to ride the transit that pays their salaries?! She finally confessed that for six years she rode the #90, about three times a week (6 boardings).  Then she moved to an area that is not served by public transportation. (She didn't say where that was.)

(I have a whole other post to write about Ms. Mefford-Miller.  If I had to pick a poster girl for the narrow-minded, self-congratulating, bureaucratic face of Metro, it would be her.  She does not listen, but waits to respond.  And when she talks, it is in carefully rehearsed marketing double-speak: a lot of words with little content.)

The last executive I asked this question of had ridden the train only a few times. I asked her if CEO Nations, who lives in Chesterfield, rode the bus to work?

"Of course he does!" She exclaimed. 

"So he rides the #91 to the Delmar Metrolink and then the train? Because that is a long, boring trip"
I didn't go into it, because she has never ridden the #91, but the route does a detour between Olive and Spoede and Olive and North Warson that takes more than 20 minutes, depending on the time of day and which direction you are travelling. 

Even without the detour, for the CEO of Metro to "Ride to Work" would take him close two hours.

"So how often does he do that?" I wondered.

"Well, not very often, of course," she said.  "The buses aren't convenient."

Realizing what she had said (the truth, instead of the platitudes and rehearsed marketing speeches spouted by her co-worker, Ms. Mefford-Miller), she tried to backtrack. 

"Well, I mean, it's not convenient to an important CEO, he can't take hours out of his day like that."

So I said, "But it is okay for customers, likely traveling to minimum or low paying jobs to make that trip?"

The buses aren't convenient for anyone.  The bus robs people of their time.  Just ask a Metro executive.


Yesterday morning, an unemployed, 28 year old, African-American man went to a job orientation at Mission Saint Louis.

He walked from Chambers and Jeffrey (almost 2 miles) to the Riverview Hall Metro bus center and caught the #41 to the #95 at Kingshighway, purchasing a $3 two-hour transfer.  The three dollars was all the money he had.

Coming back, he was able to get on the 95, but when he got to Natural Bridge, his two-hour pass had expired by 20 minutes, and the bus driver would not accept it.

He walked the 6.6 mile, 2 and a half hour walk home.

This has happened to him before.


Metro needs 2.5 Million more per year, for the next two years, in order to continue operating at the current service level.


They have proposed three options to get this money.

Option 1:
   .25 more per each Metrolink base fare
 1.00 more per each weekly pass
 8.00 more per each monthly pass
15.00 more per each semester pass

Option 2:
  .25 more per each Metrolink base fare
 2.00 more per each weekly pass
 6.00 more per each monthly pass
25.00 more per each semester pass

Option 3:
  3.00 more per each weekly pass
  8.00 more per each monthly pass
25.00 more per each semester pass

They offer no explanation of how each of these individual options will generate that extra 2.5 million a year. Each option relies on different commuter fares. 

There is no breakdown of how many train tickets are purchased every day, and no projected analysis of how the fare changes would affect their customers purchases.

(If the fare increase causes a weekly pass buyer to upgrade to a monthly pass, in Option 2, for instance, it means roughly $2 less in revenue for Metro for that month.  The increase in pass prices, though, will likely mean that some people will not buy passes and use the bus more, but pay the more expensive cash fare each time, but for fewer rides.)

There is also no guarantee that we won't be hit again with service reduction. 

Monday, March 24, 2014


Here's another gem from the Metro Website. As with all their models and figures, these numbers come from 2008, before the economic crash.

Why is transit important?
Great cities have great transit systems. The St. Louis region is a
wonderful place in which to live, work, and play, but in recent decades
its population and job growth has stagnated. To change this, the
region must move forward and boldly redefine itself as a catalyst for
entrepreneurism, an attractor of talented young professionals, and a
place that considers the needs of all its citizens. Transit alone will not
make this happen, but it does play a vital role in shaping the region’s
quality of life and growing its economy. Here’s how . . .
Transit moves thousands of
people every day to work,
school, and life:
More than 50 million times
each year, someone boards a
MetroBus, MetroLink train or
Metro Call-A-Ride van
Most Metro customers ride to
work or school
Metro customers in Missouri alone
earn more than $2.2 billion in wages
Metro carries nearly 2 million riders a a
year to special events

Nice Orwellian double-speak in the first paragraph- "great city" that has become economically "stagnant".   And that part about considering the needs of all its citizens.

Where do these numbers come from? That 2.2 Billion in wages? How is that divided? How many people is that? What is the average income?  Who is your average rider?  How often does he/she ride the bus or train?  How many transfers does he/she make? What is the average time of waiting for/riding public transportation?  Are there more train riders than bus? Do you make more money from the Metrolink or Metro bus?

Where did you gather that information?