Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Oh Metro is in the news again:

There is a good chance that the trash issue is an excuse.  There are a lot of trashy bus stops.  Clayton does provide a decent amount of trash cans.  Shrewsbury not so much, but still moreso than the other places these signs are posted.

But they are mostly on the north side.  News crews only venture north of the "Delmar Divide" for violent crimes and fires and theft.

So this being newsworthy is really only that someone at K-MOV (called the "Evening Whirl" of newscasters by a friend of OPTINSTL's) noticed the signs.

Or maybe they want a good excuse to move these bus stops for another reason?  I would have to actually go to that Clayton location to be certain, but Google Earth confirms this is pricey area.  It's a stop for the "Gold Line", the #1, a Washington University subsidized bus line.

It's been awhile since I've been on the #1, but I suspect it is still a "maid and busboy" route.  That particular bus stop might mostly be maids and busboys, students being more likely to use the Metrolink.

It's probably not just the litter they want out of the area.  It is very vulgar to have one's maid standing out on the street for 30 minutes after her shift, waiting for the bus.  And why should Clayton have to provide a maid with a trash can while she waits for her "proletarian limousine"?

That area in Shrewsbury is really just across the highway from Webster Groves' Old Orchard shopping center.  The #46- a bus line I don't recall ever having ridden- looks like a connection for employees of St. Anthony's Medical center from the Shrewsbury Metrolink.

A trash can placed there would serve only the bus stop patrons, and no one cares about us.  It's not really about trash, it's about whose trash it is.  A public transit rider represents only 22% of the revenue of Metro.  We don't pay for cars or car insurance or gas or vehicle property taxes.

We are only considered worthy of cleaning up other people's trash.

Metro doesn't even consider putting up bus schedules on bus stops, I actually left the trash can and light off the idea and design in this post:

And actually I think trashcans and lighting are the city and towns responsibility.  Street services in every community should be full partners in providing great public transportation.  And the necessary maintenance and facilities required to make riding transit a wonderful--instead of dismal-- experience.

If Metro were truly a public transit agency, gathering meaningful statistics about the transit needs of its' riders, working to develop strong community support with neighborhood liaisons, we would have trash cans at every bus stop.  (They are too busy juggling all their "IOU's".)

Metro doesn't have any control over where bus stops are placed, and they do not think it is important to put trash cans near their bus stops.

Now, if the executives of Metro were required to use public transportation, they would understand why the bus stops in certain areas have a lot of trash around them.  The city and counties are also woefully negligent on the need for more trash cans.  Especially in low income areas.

But no one with any power is ever on the streets in poor neighborhoods.  Or they would see lots of "trashy" bus stops.  I have eaten my daily meals at many bus stops.  If it takes two or three hours to get somewhere, and then work, and then two or three hours home (and sometimes even just a one hour ride), yes you are going to eat and drink at the bus stop.

A lot of people in this city litter.  It would be nice if everyone carried their trash around with them, too. But I don't think the city should expect that, and further, it would be nice if they took the lead on this issue.

A trash can says "it is important to us that you do not litter."  If there are waste cans at these stops and they aren't being used, that is another issue.   But even without travelling to these stops first hand, it seems pretty likely there aren't any provided.

Once again, Public Transit Rider, Metro has left you with their waste.

Monday, April 28, 2014


I've been going through the audit report Claire McCaskill had done on Metro after the Shrewsbury lawsuit fiasco.

I wish there was some sort of honorary degree in Public Transit I could get from a university. Just reading through the legalese in these things is ridiculous.

I admit I have to read slowly, and re-read a lot. But it is not completely incomprehensible. Let's look at this paragraph from page 8 of the document, which is page 12 of the PDF web page file:

The Cross County Extension Project exceeded the original project budget by nearly $126 million and resulted in the issuance of an additional $150 million in bonds in 2005 to finance the project and $20.8 million in bonds in 2007 to refinance a portion of the debt service payments due in 2008 and 2009. The total debt service costs over the life of these additional bonds will exceed $293.5 million and will not be fully paid until 2036. The additional debt service must be funded by the Proposition M sales tax and as a result Proposition M sales tax funds available for funding operations will be reduced. A proposal to increase the Proposition M sales tax rate by ¼ cent had been placed on the February 2008 ballot in St. Louis County. However, that proposal was removed from the ballot by county officials following the unfavorable outcome of the Metro lawsuit against the CCC. Also, in early 2008, Metro was informed that St. Louis County would reduce Metro's funding from the ½ cent transportation sales tax by $8.5 million for fiscal year 2009 and $10 million for fiscal year 2010.

Now, those $150 million in extra bonds is a problem. Not only did they go way over budget, end up in litigation, lose the court case, end up paying a lot in legal fees and settlements, they also created a bunch of debt for themselves (a bond is essentially a way to borrow money, a big IOU).

And some of these bonds were to refinance the debt service payments due in 2008 and 2009 on other bonds!

They planned to repay this IOU (the "additional debt service") by Proposition M, which actually never made it to the ballot. (So, I was wrong that Prop A was a bond measure re-packaged to voters, the Transportation Bond failed. Prop A was just a quarter cent increase and three years later version of Prop M.)

And it seems that any monies that come from the County on Transportation Sales Tax IS decided by the County Executive. In both 2009 and 2010 they are looking at increasing reductions in the amount of money they can ask for.

So that explains A LOT about Prop A.

It also explains why Metro was hit so hard by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco that hit all the banks, and in turn, all bonds. The report continues with this:

As of April 30, 2008, Metro reported holding cash and investments of approximately $131 million and various trustees held $41 million. In March 2008, Metro prepared an analysis of cash and investments that indicated about $71 million would be available to fund operating deficits that were expected in fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010, if additional revenue sources could not be identified. The analysis predicted that cash and investments available to fund operations would be about $12 million by the end of fiscal year 2010. Also as of April 30, 2008, Metro and its trustees were holding $28.2 million in Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) securities that they have been unable to sell due to disruptions in the financial markets. The remainder of Metro's cash and investments, about $72.8 million held by Metro and its trustees, are restricted and unavailable to fund operating deficits.

As early as April 2002, Metro's former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) informed the St. Louis County Council that Metro was facing serious shortfalls in operating the region's mass transit system. In the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007, the former CEO and executives of St. Louis County met with legislative leadership to discuss new state funding to abate the pending financial shortfall. In May 2008, Metro adopted the budget for fiscal year 2009 that included a projected budget deficit of $10.8 million for fiscal year 2009, and also included $8.3 million in budgeted "other revenue sources" which were described as "the amount needed to balance the budget. The additional needed revenue could come from a successful tax referendum in St. Louis County, passenger fare increases, and/or revenues not yet determined. If no other revenues are identified, service reductions will be planned and implemented" during fiscal year 2009. The budget also projected a deficit of $45.8 million for fiscal year 2010. The planned spending for capital improvements was also reduced from $360.6 million in fiscal year 2009 to $68.6 million in fiscal year 2010. Metro has scheduled a series of public hearings regarding various options for fare increases that may become effective in January 2009. Those options range from increasing the cost of all passes and transfers to increasing all fares, passes, transfers and cutting service.

The second is obscene, considering what the former CEO was paid. In 2002 they KNEW BEFORE THE FINANCIAL CRISIS that they were already FACING SHORTFALL!

What did they do? They jacked up the public for more sales tax and higher fares.

SOUND FAMILIAR? (Yes, City voters, you have ANOTHER Transportation tax in the coming election. Alderman Lewis Reed was conducting a survey about it in the Missouri History Museum a few weeks ago. The survey asked voters to choose what they wanted to spend it on. Metro was one of the choices. I haven't had a chance to look into the City yet at all, but I bet that money doesn't go straight to Metro for basic operating expenses. I bet there are a lot of restrictions on it. And Council and Commission approvals. The people they should be asking, the riders, are not even considered except as an afterthought.)

Metro has all the earmarks of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008.

People that think the current system is "doing the best it can" and "Metro is similar to other Transit Agencies in cities of a similar size" need to consider the lesson of Lehman Brothers. What they did was no worse than Bear Stearns.

Metro might be doing what everyone else is doing, but that doesn't mean they are doing what they SHOULD BE doing.

Metro needs to be re-structured. It needs another public audit. REAL SOLUTIONS need to be found. Those solutions might be unique to St. Louis. Metro likes to brag that it is the only public transit agency of its' kind in the country (still trying to figure out exactly what this means-- something about the way they are structured and the partnership with the two states). If it is the only one of its' kind it shouldn't be too difficult to actually make it work for the people that ride it.

And actually, right now, it is not working for anyone.


Mr. Dooley:

You are lucky to have your staff.  They believe in you.  I don't.  I have heard too many stories about you that include the words "scandal".

But today, after a number of calls to your office asking for accounting of the monies from Prop A, I was finally connected to someone.

Probably because I called the MO Department of Revenue and asked for the sales tax collected.  DOR sent me a report with the breakdown for 2011, 2012, 2013 and the first three months of 2014.

Prop A has collected about 78 million dollars a year for 11, 12, and 13. (Apparently it was not a bond measure, it was just revenue.  Which makes a lot more sense, and I wish someone had explained that earlier.)

I called your office, Mr. Dooley, to find out how much of that went to Metro.  A man explained to me that Metro has to submit a request for funds, and the request is put before the county board.  The man was not certain if all of the money collected was for Metro or not.  But apparently, either way, it doesn't go straight to Metro for them to decide what to do with it.

The people in your office also went out of their way to tell me what a great guy you are and how you only have the public interest at heart.

I hope that is true.  (EDIT: It is possible that all of the smear comes from former Metro CEO Larry Salci, although a lot of his allegations against you do ring true:    EDIT THE EDIT:  I am going to give you the "Hollywood movie" version of the benefit of the doubt, too, that occurred to me as I walked in a truly cinematic St. Louis sunset, that you are the beleaguered good guy, trying to work the corruption for the people, and being vilified for it.  I don't know that I feel that way, but it did occur to me, that you could be pushing your guys because there was no other trustworthy option. But for that to be true, you would need to make financial affairs much more transparent, and available to the public in a way that is understandable to the average person.  Taxpayers should not need an advanced degree to understanding where their money is being spent.)

If that is true I promise to apologize.  If it is true, than I hope you will work with the public to make sure that Metro is spending its' funds wisely and well.  I hope you will look at some of the suggestions I have made for improving transit and that you will do what you can to make this a city with a world class public transportation system.

I hope you will encourage voters to ask more questions about what our money is being used for, and to educate the public on what the right questions are.

I will leave this space below to be filled in with the numbers on where these monies went, including a list of what Metro requested.

From MO DOR, Tax Type 383, effective July 2010:

Total collected, 2011: $ 78,047,485.91

Total collected, 2012: $ 76,835,569.43

Total collected, 2013: $ 78,780,868.07

We pay very high sales tax rates:

This does not include the .25% collected solely for Metrolink:

Three principal sources of municipal revenue in St. Louis County are sales taxes, property taxes and taxes on utilities. Rates vary among the 91 cities in St. Louis County, but all cities receive a substantial portion of their revenues from these sources.

Sales taxes: Retail sales in St. Louis County are subject to state sales tax (4.225%), a transportation sales tax (0.5%), a mass transit sales tax for Metrolink (0.25%) a children's services sales tax (0.25%),and a Regional Parks and Trails sales tax (0.1%) plus a one percent (1%) local sales tax that is distributed among the 91 municipalities and St. Louis County. St. Louis County's share is based on the unincorporated population of St. Louis County. Thus, the base retail sales tax rate throughout St. Louis County is 6.325%. Local Sales Tax rates are monitored by the Missouri Department of Revenue, which is responsible for the collection of sales taxes.
Sales tax distribution: A complex set of rules governs the distribution of the one percent local sales tax in St. Louis County. Some cities, designated point-of-sale or "A" cities, retain most of the sales tax revenues collected from businesses within their boundaries. These are cities that had had local sales taxes before the countywide levy was enacted. Other cities, designated pool or "B" cities, share revenues with others in the pool on a per capita basis. Unincorporated St. Louis County is part of the pool. Legislation passed in 1993 provides for some sharing of revenues by point-of-sale cities: a sliding scale is used to calculate amounts contributed to the pool by point-of-sale cities. Finally, areas annexed by point-of-sale cities after 1995 remain in the sales tax pool. As a result, some cities have both point-of-sale and pool portions and are thus designated "A/B" cities.
Local sales tax rates: In addition to the one percent local retail sales tax that is collected countywide, there are five local option sales taxes that individual cities may levy. (1) The 1993 revenue reform legislation allows cities to levy an additional one quarter percent tax. Twelve and one-half (12.5) percent of that additional money is shared with the members of the one cent pool. (2) Cities may levy an additional 0.5 percent for capital improvements projects. For this tax, cities elect to participate in a revenue-sharing pool or retain 85 percent of revenue generated by this tax. (3) Another 0.5 percent sales tax may be levied for park and stormwater projects. (4) A .25 percent fire protection service sales tax for cities with fire protection responsibilities. (5) Up to 0.5% sales tax for economic development purposes If all of the above taxes are levied by a given city, the total retail sales tax rate is 8.325 percent. In addition, Transportation Development Districts can levy up to 1% in sales tax, and Community Improvement Districts can levy up to 1% in sales tax.
Property taxes: Most but not all St. Louis County municipalities levy a property tax for municipal purposes. Part of the reason for the wide range of municipal rates from zero to $1.27 is that twenty cities have their own fire departments paid for out of city revenues while most of the rest obtain their fire protection and ambulance service from fire protection districts which have separate property tax levies. A few cities use municipal revenues to contract for fire service from neighboring municipalities or fire protection districts. Cities also vary as to what services they pay for with city revenues; trash collection and parks and recreation services in some cases are provided at city expense and in many cases are not. Most cities tax personal as well as real property. Those which do not are indicated in the table as excluding personal property.
Utilities gross receipts taxes: Cities in Missouri are authorized to levy these taxes on utility bills paid to electric, gas, telephone, water and sewer companies. Cities have not levied them on sewer charges, however. For cities there is no maximum rate. Villages levy these charges on the electric utility only at a maximum rate of two percent. Some cities have different rates on different utilities, and some have different rates for residential and non-residential customers.


The more I look into the Shrewsbury Metrolink extension, the more I want to see EVERY SINGLE Metro financial transaction.

I didn't live here then, but there is SUCH an obvious link between this fiasco and the Metro financial crisis in 2009 that resulted in 24 bus lines being shut down and a 30% reduction in services.

Look at this audit:
(This is the report, I think, that Salci tried to block McCaskill from conducting.)

Please, public transit rider, read this article.  It is VERY revealing about how Metro does it's dirty business.

Here's a few more:

We are "clowns" as the former Metro CEO says, for letting guys like him run our transit agency:

If further investigation leads me to conclude that all the scandal directed at Dooley's office comes from Salci I will rescind my accusations:

OH WOW, and this one on Salci-- just WOW, what an a**hole!:

From the article:
In August 2004, in a move transit officials call unprecedented, he fired and sued the Cross County Collaborative, a group of four firms charged with designing the 8.2-mile MetroLink extension that will connect Forest Park and Shrewsbury by way of Clayton. The CCC countersued Metro three months later.
Then, earlier this year, Salci raised eyebrows by recommending that Metro refuse an audit requested by state auditor Claire McCaskill. Salci said it would jeopardize the agency's lawsuit. Salci lost the skirmish, and Missouri auditors are expected this week to begin a year-long financial audit to determine why cost overruns on the $550 million MetroLink project might total $126 million. The completion date for the new line was scheduled for May but has been pushed back to the fall of 2006.

Should have known he worked for Gephardt before Metro!
No more of these fancy businessmen and politcians as Metro CEOs!

Don't use this man's consulting services, EVER!

Thursday, April 24, 2014


EDIT: 25 April 2014, I filed a formal complaint with the FTA Inspector General, asking them to investigate and audit Metro and Prop A and Dooley, and asked them to refuse to give Metro anymore funds for the Cortex Metrolink station proposed between the CWE and Grand.

The Region 7 FTA office in Kansas City has promised that someone from the Federal office will be returning my call about Metro.

I started Occupy Public Transportation In St. Louis on March 24th, exactly one month ago.  At the beginning I only wanted to stop the fare increase and to get Metro to listen to their riders' needs (better service, bathrooms, improved bus stops and sidewalk conditions, etc).  But in the course of the last few weeks my research has led me to the conclusion that the entire agency needs an overhaul.
  • First and foremost, Metro needs to be separated from Bi-State Development Agency. 
  • Metro bus drivers deserve a new bargaining agreement.  I don't understand how an Agency that receives so much federal funding can be allowed to treat their employees this way.  6 years without a new contract! Not to mention the slow erosion of pensions and benefits, and the fact that new driver's start at $12 an hour is ridiculous!  And even the top pay of $21 an hour is not enough for that job.  It should be $25, and the starting wage should be at least $15.
  • John Nations needs to resign as CEO or be fired.  (And no CEO of Metro should be making five times what a bus driver makes!  No more $250,000 a year executive salaries!)
  • The way that Metro does its survey and planning needs to change.  Their data is general population and employment statistics.  They admit that the buses are the bulk of their operation, and that north St. Louis city and county comprise their busiest transit hubs, yet they fail to survey the buses, or involve the communities in planning. When they do survey, almost always only once a year, and on the Metrolink, they do not gather the necessary information, or compute it accurately. Their starting point needs to be collecting the proper data on their riders-- who they are, where they travel and why, etc.  (In other words, they should serve their customers, and not the other way around.)
  • More outreach needs to be done with street services in regards to bus stop placement and bus stop maintenance and needs (lighting, sidewalk maintenance). And Metro needs to improve all of its' bus stops generally (route and schedule information at every bus stop, trash cans, more benches and covered stops).  People should be able to navigate their way from any bus stop, even if they have never ridden the bus before!
The person I spoke to said that they (the FTA) were "aware of some of the problems" with Bi-State dba Metro. (It is pretty  obvious that they have not been able to add more than 9 miles of light rail track since 1999, although they received a lot of federal money for the failed proposed St. Charles, and also Illinois extensions to Madison County-- which was rejected due to the same racism as in St. Charles.)

When they call me, I am going to ask them what I would need to know if I were to take over Metro operations tomorrow.  To be clear, I know that this will not happen (I actually would never want the Metro job, and wish I wasn't even spending my time on OPTINSTL-- oh to live in a fair and honest world!), but in order to change anything I always start from the ideal and work my way back from there.

So, if I took over Metro tomorrow, what would I need to know and do to make the necessary changes outlined above? 

Feel free to call the FTA and ask them these questions yourself.  The more people that call, the more power we have, and the more likely we are to see changes.  You can file a complaint with the FTA Inspector General anonymously, and receive a PIN to track the progress of the investigation on your complaint.

FTA Region 7 Office, 901 Locust Street, Suite 404, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. Telephone (816) 329-3920, Fax (816) 329-3921 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Metro is a "doing business as" (dba) of Bi-State Development Agency.

Bi-State Development Agency was formed in 1949 for the purpose of "making the region more attractive to business".

What was their first job?  CREATING THE METROPOLITAN SEWER DISTRICT.  Which is now a separate entity.

Bi-State did not even get into Public Transit until the 1960's, when they bought 15 failing private bus lines.

According to Wikipedia:
In addition, Metro also owns and operates St. Louis Downtown Airport (formerly Parks) and the adjoining industrial business park, paddlewheel-style river excursion boats, the tram system leading to the top of the Gateway Arch, and the Arch's parking garage. 
The agency was created on September 20, 1949 through a compact between Missouri and Illinois and ratified by the United States Congress. Metro's broad powers enable it to cross local, county, and state boundaries to plan, construct, maintain, own, and operate specific facilities in its effort to enhance the quality of life in the region. Its service area encompasses 200 municipalities. The agency continued to operate streetcars from the St. Louis Public Service Company in St. Louis until May 1966 with the discontinuation of the Hodiamont line.[4] First public support of transit came to the region in 1974. Buses continued to dominate Metro's fleet until a feasibility study in the late 80's suggested the construction of a light rail line from Lambert St. Louis International Airport to 5th and Missouri in East St. Louis via an abandoned segment of railway; that included abandoned tunnels under downtown St. Louis and the then disused Eads Bridge lower deck railway.

Metro's own Comprehensive Annual reports show that the only thing that DOESN'T operate at a loss in the Arch Trams and the parking garage!

Without the public transit they are a tiny little agency, operating on less than $5 million a year.  It's the public transit that brings in the 160 million of taxpayer money.  It's Metro that allows people like John Nations to get a quarter of a million a year salary and the "grooming" for a senate seat.

When Metro (Bi-State Development Agency d.b.a.) says that they are "not in the business of supplying public toilet facilities" they are lying.  They are in the business of whatever they want to be, as long as they can justify it fitting in with "making the region more attractive to talented young professionals". 

Business owners benefit from increased public toilet facilities, too.  For example, one of my favorite restaurants is The Kitchen Sink (TKS).  They started out next to the Debalivere Metrolink.  They moved to Union Blvd. last fall because the owner was tired of people coming in to use the restroom, and also peeing on the side of the building and in his entryway when the restaurant was closed.

Yesterday-- even though I don't drink an hour before I leave for the bus, and often go 5 hours without using a toilet when riding the bus and Metrolink- I found myself needing a bathroom at the Delmar Metrolink.  Every business I approached had a sign stating "NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS."

If you own a business near a bus or Metrolink stop, you should call Metro and demand they get in the business of providing toilets. 

Metro's money comes solely from public money.  We should have the right to determine how they spend it. 

There is a legal basis for their responsibility to provide toilets.  Hold them accountable for this!


From Metro's Website:


In the beginning...
In existence for more than 60 years, Metro Transit is one of the nation's oldest interstate agencies.  However, it hasn't always been known as Metro Transit.

It was established as the Bi-State Development Agency (BSDA) in 1949 through an interstate compact between Missouri and Illinois, ratified by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Harry S. Truman.  (The BSDA adopted the name Metro in 2003.)  The BSDA was created to serve the region on both sides of the Mississippi - to have a regional outlook not tied to any one municipality, county or state.  As such, it was given broad powers that enable it to cross local, county and state boundaries to enhance the development of the region.  

Although the Agency is now best known for its transit system, it would be 14 years - in 1963 - before it operated a public transit vehicle.  In fact, during its first year of operation, the BSDA:

  • Commissioned a comprehensive plan for development of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District, outlining the major needs of the area and recommending solutions.
  • Sponsored a study of the pollution in the Mississippi River in the St. Louis area.  This led to a successful program where local industries voluntarily agreed to treat wastes in order to reduce pollution.
  • Completed a study of the sewer problems of St. Louis County, which led to the establishment of the Metropolitan Sewer District.
  • Sponsored an area-wide survey of highways and expressways in Missouri and Illinois - one of the first instances of coordinated interstate highway planning.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I found out about these people today, from this post: 

The Citizens for Modern Transit.  That this organization even exists is an insult to public transit riders.

They don't seem to do ANY outreach to areas that rely on public transit the most.  Looking at their "About" section they seem like the suburban "park and ride the Metrolink to Cardinals game" crowd.

The fact that they are behind the ridiculous proposal of adding another $9 million stop between the CWE and Grand for a new "business development" (for the corporation Cortex), pretty much makes them useless to those of us that have to ride the bus.

However, OPTINSTL recommends taking their "surveys".  The people that designed their surveys are huffing glue! They ask you a question about how many bikes and scooters and cars you own, with no choice for NONE, AFTER they have already asked you this, and you have to choose 1,2, or 3 cars or scooters, or something, to move to the next page of the survey.  Clearly they do not have the non-car household in mind at all!

Feel free to abuse them by checking "Other" and writing "you idiots I told you I don't have a car".  Later, when the survey won't let you move on without answering what options your employer offers, remind them of how you checked "unemployed" two answers back (also by checking "other".)


Add them to JAM THE PHONES LINES when you are tired of calling Metro and Mayor Slay and Metro East West Gateway Council of Governments and the County Executive's office!

Citizens For Modern Transit:
Making Transit a Priority for the Region
911 Washington, Ste. 200
St. Louis, MO 63101

(Making Transit a priority????? FOR WHOM???)

Call them and ask them what they are doing to get a train to the parts of the city that use public transit the most.

Ask them why their survey is only designed for people that drive?  Ask them what they are doing to really "move transit forward"?

Ask them how often THEY ride public transit, and how long their trip is?  Then suggest they adopt the OPTINSTL survey to REALLY gather MEANINGFUL STATISTICS instead of crap about the park and ride crowd that owns cars.

Look at this junk statistic they throw around on their website:

Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $30 million in increased business sales, and every $10 million in operating investment in public transportation yields $32 million in increased business sales.

Translation: Your money becomes profit for businessmen and developers.

Please, Public Transit rider, FLOOD THEM WITH FEEDBACK!




Metro, you not only drive me (verrrryyyy slowwlllly) where I am going, you also drove me to activism.

Just when I think you can't be anymore ridiculous, you prove me wrong.

Today, on my transfer from the #16 at the Delmar Metrolink, as I ran around for twenty minutes trying to find a bathroom before I peed my pants (the hot dog place is gone, and the library doesn't have bathrooms, and the restaurants only have them for customers) I picked up a West End Word.

Imagine my delight at finding an article about a new $9 million station at Sarah street, that includes a bike rack and other "amenities".  (What amenities??? Despite the fact the most humans possess bladders, the news also does not consider toilets worthy of reporting.  Metro claims they have "amenities" at every station- but since they don't have toilets at most Metrolink and Metro bus centers, we have to assume they mean something else.  Like ticket machines, and security, and signs, and bike racks, or something.)

Of course, Metro, me and all the other real public transit riders know what this proposed new station is really about.  This is about Cortex getting to put its name on a piece of real estate under the guise of "job creation" because it is "key to achieving the company's goals." 

This is about Cortex, not YOU public transit rider!

Dennis Lower, president and CEO of Cortex, said the proposed station is key to achieving the company's goals of being an international standard for innovation communities."

Cortex has its sights set on the creation of a sustainable, walkable twenty-four/seven community and becoming a center for job creation," he said. "Our redevelopment plan includes work spaces, residential development, retail establishments and evening destinations. The development will attract international businesses with expectations of reliable and convenient public transportation. The MetroLink stop will serve the Cortex workforce and will be viewed as a regional connector."

Metro, Mr. Lower, and the rest of you lot, we need a metrolink or two in north city and county.  We need toilets at every facility.  We need real jobs and real community development, not something that taxpayers fund for private companies to put their name on and claim credit for.  We do not want our $1 of funds to make Cortex $4 richer.

(Metro claims that every a dollar a "community" puts towards public transit "the community" gets $4 in return from Metro's government funding.  Pretty vague statistics meant to disguise what is really going on.)

Yes, Mr. Lower, we know that Metro CEO John Nations can expect a nice fat campaign contribution to his political career when he dumps Metro (he likes to tell his employees that he is only doing this for a few years to get his political career lined up-- of course, the private car and $250,000 a year salary don't hurt him either).

Mr. Lower, your company is named for part of the human brain, but you aren't very smart.  There is nowhere "greener" than a community without cars.  And you know there are a lot of places that need housing and retail and work spaces in this city.  But you aren't really planning on doing anything new or innovative, are you?

And seriously-- 800 boardings a day-- and almost 20 years to add 1000 more?  Pathetic.

And when you say "job creation" I wonder if you really mean minimum wage jobs in retail and restaurants, that workers will ride the bus two or three hours to get to?  With a big huge corporate Cortex logo on the building.  And "international businesses" setting up shop.  (Nice doublespeak for "multinational corporation".)

Yeah. We get it.

Mr. Lower, you seem like another crap human being.  Sorry. Your big cortex and you can't do anything more than figure out a way to spend $9 million dollars ripping out the current CWE station, moving it a few blocks, rebranding it with the Cortex logo, and building up another "development" that may or may not catch on, and may or may not include local companies, and may or may not have anything to offer anyone but yourselves and few already rich developers and politicians?

Just so that it is easy for your white collar workers to park and ride the Metrolink and bring their bicycles? Wow.

I mean that is JUST what St. Louis needs right now-- ANOTHER METRO STATION in between Grand and CWE.  You know, if the parts of the city that relied on public transit the most had a train, and there were bathrooms, and programs for low income to get discount passes, and "feasibility studies" weren't based on 80 participants, a big bioscience center, and greedy businessmen, but instead on transit riders needs-- yeah, great go forth with your little plan!

But there are lots of other very obvious CEREBRAL INNOVATIONS this city needs, and I guess you geniuses won't be the ones to provide them!

Hey Metro executives, I forgot to charge my phone last night, or you would have heard from me A LOT today, but I am gonna call you EXTRA tomorrow!  We have a lot to talk about.

Like how you say you don't have the $9 million, and you are going to the Federal Transit Authority.  You don't deserve one dime of federal money (income taxes), state money (property and income taxes), or city money (sales taxes).   You don't deserve our fares!

Tomorrow I am calling the FTA, too.   I bet they know just what I can do to stop you.

Monday, April 21, 2014


This is a scan of the language on the ballot.  "Pubic Transportation" which "includes" Metro transit, is my guess what the argument will be ("no we always meant that Charlie Dooley would decide what went to roads and what went to buses!")

Still have to file a Sunshine Act request to get the actual bond, but it is already obvious that they lied to the public.

This alone is the basis for a lawsuit.

Shall the County of St. Louis impose a countywide sales tax of one-half of one percent for the  purpose of providing a source of funds for public transportation purposes including the restoration, operation, and expansion of  Metrolink, MetroBus, dsabled and senior transportation, in addition to an existing sales tax of one-quarter of one percent for the same purpose?

Read this, too:



ENVISION THE END RESULT: METRO provides services based on ridership and riders needs.  Facilities that are deemed important and necessary to riders are integrated into the overall development plans.  Executives have the public's interests at heart, and the agency is not run by or dictated to by businessmen.  The agency is totally transparent to the public, and the information about the agency's operations is made accessible and easily disseminated by the public.

RESEARCH THE HISTORY AND STRUCTURE OF THE THING YOU WANT TO CHANGE:  METRO has a lot of reasons why it can't provide better services, and why the current structure is the best.  First and foremost in your mind whenever you encounter a "problem" or "obstacle" to your vision is to realize that within every problem is the solution to that problem. 

Metro says it is not in the business of providing toilets:  Not true.  Metro is about "business development" and doing whatever is deemed necessary to make the city more attractive to "business development." Metro is run Bi-State Development Agency.  Initially Bi-State started out in 1950 as the Metropolitan Sewer District.  They didn't get into public transit until they bought some private bus lines in the late 1960's.   

The addition of Public Transit to Bi-State is what began to bring in the large government monies to subsidize the bus lines (business developers need cheap labor, and cheap labor doesn't generally own cars).

Bi-State dba Metro is actually about any business it chooses to be in.  Bi-State dba Metro also owns and operates the Arch trams and Riverboat attractions, and the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia Illinois.  The trams are the only part of their endeavors that makes a profit.  Metro bus and metrolink, the airport, and the riverboat attractions all operate at a loss.

However, their other enterprises are in the amount of a 2 million or less a year.  METRO bus and trains are worth 225 million a year.

Moreover, ALL of the money from Metro bus and trains comes from the public: government money (income tax), sales tax (city and country), and state money (property taxes).  And then that 22% that comes from rider revenues.

A businessman like Metro's CEO John Nations is not going to get elected to a senate seat from running Bi-State, or get a $250,000 a year salary from the airport, trams and riverboat attractions.  it is the 225 million a year from Metro that gives him the platform.  In his current position, he gets to hob-knob with the local rich boys and politicians, and begin creating the network he will need if he gets to office.

No one at Metro is looking to make the transit system self-sustaining because that would remove the government monies.  They would have to really work with the public to make transit feasible for people of all income levels, and to make public transit the first choice of people that owned cars.  That is a lot for an agency that is set up exclusively for the manipulation of private interests and does not have to do any "real" work.

It would also create a situation where the transit agency would have to work AGAINST the interests of private business developers and local government officials in many instances.  (For example, challenging the city and county towns to let Metro decide where bus stops were placed and where trains would run, etc.)  It would mean wresting Metro's checkbook away from the County Executive and a separation of "transportation" and "transit" bonds. 

The current situation does not work in the transit riding public's interest.  That is fairly easy to demonstrate.

If the agency were run by someone with urban planning at heart, the buses and train would be the first and foremost priority, instead of  developing personal relationship with future campaign contributors.

The riding public would be consulted first on future train extensions and bus lines, with the thought of attracting passengers with cars by making public transit more convenient than driving.

IDENTIFY WHAT ACTIONS COULD POTENTIALLY CREATE THE CHANGES YOU SEEK:  This is the part that calls for flexibility.  If you don't need the cooperation of anyone else to make the changes, you can do the work yourself, but if you need the public you will have to "try and try again."

Don't be afraid to fail.  For instance, if the "Jam the Phone Lines" doesn't work- either enough people don't call, or the calls don't generate any changes- I will have to devise another strategy.

However, it may be that a lawsuit challenging Bi-State's ability to run Metro, and the contention that Metro transit is owned wholly by the people (all of their income comes from public money, as outlined above), and that public transit is a necessity for approximately 75,000 people in the city and 25,000 people in the surrounding counties.  (Roughly 5% of the entire metro area, and 20% of the city.)

That is a strong enough reason for a lawsuit.  However, I am not a lawyer, so I still need to engage some other people-- that are lawyers.

FIGURE OUT EVERYTHING YOU CAN DO ON YOUR OWN AND DO IT:  This is fairly obvious.  But the most important thing is-- PACE YOURSELF.  I leaflet when ever I can. I talk to people when I can.

I call everytime I ride, about something-- questions about how they operate, demands for changes, and any problems I see. (A bus stop without a bus line number. problems with routes, etc.  Suggestions for immediate improvement.  The only thing I DON'T call about is the drivers.  They get enough calls about that and the bus drivers take enough crap about Metro's awful service.  I DO call about the fact that Metro has refused to reach a new bargaining agreement with the driver's union for 6 years.)

STAY PASSIONATE, BUT DON'T LET IT MESS WITH YOUR HEAD:  You are in this for the long haul.  Don't let them upset you.  The agency is going to say stupid things to you, insult you, insist that nothing that can be done.  You have to hang in there.  Don't work on it everyday.  Take a break.  Allot a certain amount of time each day or week or month and focus.

Live your life, but incorporate your activism into it.   I find out stuff about Metro all the time now, even when I am not talking to people about it.  I've started to look and listen.

Also, determine how much of troublemaker you want to be.  I don't believe in violence, and I don't want to take on so much that I have to worry about being arrested.  Most changes can be done legally.

There is always a risk, when challenging the current power structure, that draconian measures will be taken if you really become a threat.  The police and the military are controlled and used by private wealth to maintain private wealth and to create "order"--  meaning "business as usual."  However, in those circumstances, your actions will uncover any lurking fascism.  

And in that case, they will have to come right out in the open.  And generally, the public will respond in your favor.  It is worth it to challenge the power structure in any society, because that is what keeps fascism at bay.

This is one of the reasons that "Occupying" needs to become a hobby of every single person in this country.  By "occupying"-- learning about and monitoring-- all levels of government and public structures, we can exert our power and demand accountability.  We can keep fascism and violent upheaval at bay.  The more people that "Occupy" the less work there will be for any one of us.

YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY MAY NOT BE INTERESTED:  The people closest you will be interested because they are interested in you, but they may not have the same passion or vision. After a while they may get bored with your cause.  This is normal.

Seek out the people that do, and form your alliances there.   Even when I am handing out leaflets, I ask people if they are interested in changing Metro to make it better for the people that ride it.  Not everyone is.  Save your leaflets and your energy.  Move on to the next person.  Identify the people most interested first.  The less motivated will become more interested as you continue to get results.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF:  In our society we are taught to believe that money is the only source of power.  But the wealthy are actually the least powerful among us.  ALL THEY HAVE IS MONEY.

When I was a radical political activist in my teens and early twenties (I am almost 50 now) we used to say "Money is the lowest form of participation."  TIME and IDEAS are the strongest.

Every person has something to offer.  The wealthy are the smallest part of the population.  There are far more of us than of them.  And without us doing the work or consuming to generate their wealth, they would have nothing.

Most social change has been generated by 3.5% of the population.  African-Americans are less than 20% of the population, and during the Civil Rights era, not all African-American's participated in the struggle.  Don't discount what a small but empowered group of people can do.  The powers that be cannot handle any disruption of "business as usual".  They are all about profits.  They count on the majority of the people being too downtrodden, or too unmotivated, or too divided, to work for change.

Prove them wrong.  Believe in yourself, your power, and your vision.

If you pace yourself and seek like-minded others, you will succeed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


One thing we don't have to file a Sunshine Act request for:

Now to sort through it.

I hope some Occupy Accountants and Financial Wizards will get on board soon.

The Table of Contents alone has supplied me with some information, and a quick glance at page 29.

Table of Contents:
Regional Statistics
Regional Population.........................................................................................................96
Regional Per Capita Personal Income
Regional Unemployment Rate .........................................................................................98
Regional Top Businesses ................................................................................................99

General population statistics are sited, but nothing on their riders, or changes in their riders.

Page 29:
Metro shows increased ridership and boardings from 2005 through 2009 on their website.  

Page 29 says "unemployment" has caused them to LOSE riders.

Missouri Sources
. Funding for Missouri projects comes from the City of St. Louis, St. Louis
County and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The City of St. Louis and
St. Louis County collect revenue from ½ cent and ¼ cent local sales taxes. Beginning this
fiscal year with the passage of Prop A, St. Louis County collects an additional ½ cent and the
City of St. Louis collects an additional ¼ cent. Both the City and the County appropriate all of
their receipts from the ¼ cent sales tax to Metro. The City of St. Louis appropriates virtually all
of its revenues from the ½ cent sales tax and Prop A to Metro. St. Louis County splits revenue
collected from the ½ cent sales tax between Metro and County road and bridge projects. They
also appropriated $39.5 mi
llion of the Prop A funds to Metro, of which $3 million was set aside
for future capital projects. Excluding Prop A, the County appropriated approximately $34.0
million and $34.8 million to Metro in FY 2011 and FY 2010, respectively. From FY 2002
through FY 2008, the County’s ½ cent sales-tax appropriation to Metro was indexed with the
Consumer Price Index. At least 2 percent of the appropriations to Metro from the ½ cent sales
tax must be used for transportation for developmentally disadvantaged persons. The balance
is usually required to fund Missouri operations. MoDOT provides Metro with limited operating
and FTA discretionary capital assistance.

Absolutely nothing going on with Metro in MO or IL:

Statistics on boardings and fare box recovery, and miles/fleet/ etc.  There are conclusions to be drawn from this that no one bothers to (or does not want to) make.  They attribute the decline to "unemployment" and not reduced service. In 2011 service area decreased, according to a footnote, because of the cancellation of bus lines to Gray Summit, while rider demand increased.


Another very telling thing on this page is that they do not report the money they make from their business enterprises-- or how much of it goes to Metro.  I hope it is in this report somewhere.

Page 10 - The years are 2009 2010 and 2011

Metro Transportation System
Service area square miles
558 *
Metro Bus
Fleet size – total vehicles
Passenger trips
Revenue miles
Farebox recovery
Metro Link
Fleet size – total vehicles
Passenger trips
Revenue miles
Farebox recovery
Demand response
Fleet size – total vehicles
Passenger trips
Revenue miles
Farebox recovery
4.7Will be adding more, check back.

Litigation is on page 29 of the report, page 50 of the PDF (all previous pages listed are the PDF page) Here is a nice pack of lies.
Metro is also the defendant in several lawsuits arising from matters other than workers
compensation and personal injury litigation. These matters principally relate to,
environmental cleanup, breach of contract, and
alleged violations of equal protection and
credit protection requirements. In the opi
nion of management, including its General
Counsel, the ultimate resolution of these matters is not likely to have a material effect of
the Metro’s financial position.

On page 56 of the document, page 75 of the PDF, they contradict themselves (not the first time-- still sorting through the Prop A doublespeak before I post that) 

In the ordinary course of business, a number of claims and lawsuits arise from individuals
seeking compensation for personal injury, death, and/or property damage resulting from
accidents occurring in the operation of the system. In addition, Metro has been named
as a defendant in a number of lawsuits relating to personnel and contractual matters.
Management does not believe that the outcome of these claims will have a material
adverse effect on Metro’s financial position. However, in the event of an unfavorable
outcome in one or more of these matters, the impact could be material to Metro’s
financial position or results of operations