Friday, June 27, 2014


Someone commented to me the other day that Metro must be worried about OPTINSTL's call for a boycott of Metro on July 1st.

"You know that is why they are holding that job fair on the 28th," he said.

I have no idea if my campaign has reached enough people to be producing that kind of results.  Are the Metro phone lines flooded?  I don't know.  I don't work there.  I can only do what I can do, and wait to see what happens.

It would be wonderful if Metro was, indeed, trying to make nice with the public to prevent a rider boycott on July 1st.  But if they were really worried, they would not have raised fares in the first place.

I think the Metro Job Fair is actually about CEO John Nations, who is publicly opposed to unions and supports the union-busting "right to work" legislation, and a direct threat he is sending his drivers:

"Don't you dare strike the week of the Fourth of July, or we will fire you."

Metro is NOT really hiring.  They are barely solvent and have plenty of part-time drivers.  They just don't want a repeat of Cardinals Opening Day "Blue Flu".  

They don't want St. Louis to get any ideas from San Francisco or Philadelphia (unlike Pennsylvania, we don't have a Republican Governor, although Nixon often seems like a Republican).

What kind of city do you want to live in, St. Louis?  A city where people are paid a livable wage with decent benefits?  A city with good jobs and good employers?

A city with a great public transit system?

Or would you prefer a city where officials that receive $250,000 a year salaries (entirely paid for from public funds) rob their employees pensions, refuse to negotiate contracts in good faith, and exchange "business development" for promises of future political campaign contributions?  (Nations make no secret of the fact that he is only at Metro to create a platform for his campaign for governor or senator.)

St. Louis, you deserve more from Metro!  I hope you will demand it!  Don't break the Metro Operators Union.  If you get a job with Metro, don't cross the picket lines.  Metro wants minimum wage drivers that have no benefits.  All the executives care about is there own fat-cat salaries.  If they could import bus driver jobs to China and hire children and prisoners for a dollar an hour, they would.

They would say "Oh, we were protecting profits."  And pat themselves on the back for doing a great job and give themselves big fat bonuses.

Metro isn't hiring, they are firing.

Remember that.

PS- personally, although a driver strike on July 1st would be fantastic, a driver strike on July 4th would be even better.

PPS- Something else at play here, both with the timing of the fare increase and the hiring fair, is that Metro's fiscal year ends on June 30th.  Too long to go into here, but think about it.  Even though the financial reports won't be ready for at least a few weeks, they do want to make a nice face to the public.  "Hey look, we're hiring, regardless of how obviously failing we look on paper, we are hiring." *cough* "...Not."

Sunday, June 22, 2014


This is the website for the trail:

The "greenway" trail from downtown runs 11 miles between Hall street and the river until the Riverview and Hall intersection, and then comes out from behind the industrial sprawl of Hall street and continues between Riverview Blvd and the river, until Chain of Rocks bridge.

The Riverview Metro Bus Transfer Center is located at Hall and Riverview.  It is a big intersection, and there are no pedestrian crosswalks north of Hall.  In fact, there is no crosswalk on Riverview from Hall street until the Greenway trail crossing at the water reclamation plant north of Spring Garden.

There are no bus stops on Riverview north of Hall, even though both the #61 Riverview and #75 Lilac-Hanley turn at Scranton, across from the North Riverfront Park parking lot and public facilities. 

The bridge over Maline creek, just north of the intersection, is out on one side, the west side.  If you are walking up Riverview, as a lot of people do, you must cross the street to go over the bridge, and then cross back again if you want to walk on a paved trail.

It is from the east side that the Greenway Trail emerges.  If this Greenway were anywhere south of Delmar, or west of Union, they would be promoting using public transit for a part of the Riverfront Trail's 11 mile stretch.  (Ride from downtown and take the bus back, or vice versa.)

Of course, if you ride the bus from Metro's Riverview-Hall transfer center, you see some of St. Louis' ugliest secrets out in the open.  First, you will see the many, many railroad tracks that run along Hall and Broadway, and wonder why the Metrolink hasn't been extended north?  Especially considering the second thing you will discover: that by bus you will need to travel at least 40 minutes to the nearest Metrolink, regardless of what bus line you ride.  Third, again, no matter which bus you take, you will travel through the most impoverished and crime ridden neighborhoods in St. Louis. 

If this were south of Delmar, there would crosswalks and the bridge would have been repaired and re-opened on the east side of the street.  There would be clear signage and sidewalks and lighting.

For about three months there was a big bag of garbage lying on the sidewalk over the Maline creek wash.  There are no lights on the bridge for the bike path and it is in very bad repair.  The bike path has a blind corner, where locals say there has been at least one mugging of a bicyclist.

At the end of the trail, Chain of Rocks Bridge parking lot has been closed.  The concrete barriers are always in place, and the lot is overgrown and neglected.

The city of St. Louis keeps the "finger" of Riverview because of the riverfront park, the Chain of Rocks bridge, and especially, the property and income tax from the wealthy homes that face the river along Riverview drive and the bluffs above it.  The "finger" of St. Louis city really belongs to the county municipalities of Glasgow Village and the Village of Riverview, and the Riverview Gardens School District.  

The North Riverfront Greenway Trail is the type of negligence that is common in north Saint Louis city and county.  It is obvious racism, the kind that has been institutionalized for so long that few people question it.

In St. Louis, all Greenways are NOT created equal.

Friday, June 20, 2014


On July 1st, the day the new fares go into effect, it is time for transit riders to send Metro a message:  WE NEED A BETTER TRANSIT SYSTEM! WE, THE PEOPLE, DEMAND IT!

On July 1st, get a ride if you have to go to work or must travel with in St. Louis.

Don't ride the bus or train.

Call Metro, Governor Nixon,your local representatives (in the City that would be Mayor Slay and your local alderman), and local media of your choice, and tell them that you are not riding in protest of the increased fares, that bring no improvements in service.

Tell them you are boycotting Metro because they are asking riders to pay $5 million more over the next two years, even though Metro spent that same amount in 2013 in political campaign contributions ("contributions to outside entities").

Tell them you want Metro separated from Bi-State Development Agency, and from "business development" altogether! Public transit should be developed where it is needed most, not subsidizing private business interests.

Demand that Metro negotiate a new contract with their drivers! 6 years without a contract is enough! Demand that Metro stopping robbing driver's pension plans and benefits!

Tell them what services you need as public transit rider: public toilets? improved safety, signage, trash cans, and shelters at bus stops? discount passes for low income and unemployed?


If you want to publicly demonstrate, make a sign and walk or get a ride to the nearest bus stop or bus and Metrolink transfer center and hold the sign up to passing cars.


OPTINSTL will be at Riverview Transfer Center in the afternoon, striking publicly!  We hope you will join us.  And please email us the details of your protest to share on this blog:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


EDIT: St. Louis Today posted this great article on Sunday, June 22nd:

I have more to say about this topic, but this is the text of the statement to our "leaders" and the leaflet I will be taking to the open hearing tomorrow at the Central Library.  (There is also a hearing today at UMSL and one on Thursday in Cottleville.

17 June 2014
Dear St. Louis City and County, and Missouri “leaders”:
     I find it reprehensible that this state is asking its citizens for MORE MONEY! Especially for “roads and bridges”! One thing we have quite enough of here in St. Louis is road, highway, and bridge construction. We need improved public transit, especially in the areas that use it the most. We need a metrolink that runs from north county to south county. We need high speed rail connecting Saint Louis to Jefferson City, Kansas City, and Columbia.
     These “wish lists” are just fantasy to sell this tax hike to voters. And even the fantasy allocates only $12 million of the $500 million budget to public transit. Once you get our money you will do whatever you want with it. We were told in April of 2010 that Prop A was going to save Metro. In 2013 Prop A collected $78 million in the county and $11 million in the city. Yet all that money has done is pay off the interest on Metro's outrageous debt for the Shrewbury Metrolink extension. Fares are being increased in July and Metro faces continued insolvency.
     And you didn't tell us, back in 2010, that County Executive Charlie Dooley could withhold that $78 million he collects on Prop A and allocate it instead to more roads and bridges. And let's just consider what all this construction is really about: making wealthy companies like Clayco wealthier. Which, of course, makes their contributions to your political campaign funds larger, but does absolutely nothing for the public.
     Why are we being asked to make the already wealthy contractors and developers and engineers of this city even wealthier, when by U-6 numbers we have 10% unemployment, and our schools are failing? I keep hearing about how “attracting talented young professionals” is the key to St. Louis economic growth. This is not only ridiculous, it is offensive.
     Obviously, you do not think that the youth of St. Louis have the capability to become “talented young professionals” with an “entreupreneurial spirit.” If you did you would save our schools, create jobs and internship opportunities, invest in more day care, and give the same investment incentives and tax breaks to local small businesses that you give to these big corporations (who often put the locals out of business!).
     If you believed in your citizens, you would be working to abolish right-to-work legislation, increase the state's minimum wage, and make this a better state for workers. Low wage jobs are the only part of the job sector that is growing. I don't trust a state that makes it more difficult to get unemployment so that it can use the unemployment fund to pay off its debts, and keeps milking sales tax like it is a cash cow.
     We, the people, deserve real leaders. We do not need a County Executive that gives a museum director a half a million dollar a year salary. We do not need a Mayor that governs only the southern, “white” half of the city. We do not need a Metro CEO that supports “right to work”, refuses to negotiate a new union contract with his drivers, is paid $250,000 a year, and gives $5 million a year in “contributions to outside entities.”
     Everything about this city and state's “economic development” is backward and mismanaged (and possibly corrupt). If you can't increase the well being of the people currently living here, with the vast amounts of money we are already giving you, why should we trust you with more money? Why would more people want to move here?
     What are you doing to make the quality of our lives better? For the WHOLE city, not just the middle and upper class citizens. What are you doing to close the $32,000 a year income gap, the “Delmar Divide”, where the median income in north St. Louis is just $8,000 a year, and the south is $40,000?
     The northern half of this city is treated like a reservation or concentration camp, filled with hostile natives, incarcerated by lack of job opportunity, poverty, crumbling neighborhoods, and miserable public transit options. We don't need more Ballpark Villages and Cortex communities. All this does is shift the wealth, it doesn't create more. (Cortex is especially insulting. That they were given DOT TIGER funding, when the obvious outcome of this development is gentrification. And $9 million of taxpayer money to tear down the existing CWE Metrolink station to build a new one a few blocks away? OUTRAGEOUS!)
     We don't need more roads and bridges. We don't need another sales tax increase. We need leaders that can effectively manage the money they have now, and who address the real problems facing our city and state.  


Your vote counts in local and state elections! And even if you cannot vote, you are still a sales tax paying citizen of this state! And St. Louis city and county already have the highest sales tax rates in the state!

Call your local and state representatives and tell them you are against Amendment 7. Tell them you what we need to make this city and state more economically viable! MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

WHAT ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS?! Where is all that lottery money going? Why are they asking us for more money for highways and bridges when our kids are suffering in unaccredited and crowded school districts? Where is the funding for after-school and youth programs? Internship opportunities? Scholarships?

WHAT ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSIT AND HIGH SPEED RAIL? In 2010 voters agreed to Prop A to “save” Metro, and yet they are still insolvent! They are raising fares on July 1st and have not put in a single foot of new Metrolink track in 8 years! We need a statewide speed rail system that links St. Louis, Kansas City, Jefferson City, and Columbia. We don't need more highways!

WHAT ABOUT HOUSING? One hundred thousand homes and lots sit vacant in St. Louis city and county, many bank or city/county owned, and yet we have thousands of homeless. The problem is much larger than just 26 houses in the Ranken Technical College neighborhood! And at the least the vacant lots could be turned into urban farms or “edible” parks, and playgrounds!

WHAT ABOUT JOBS? We need more jobs, and better jobs! More job training! A higher minimum wage! More protection for workers! Stronger unions! More daycare!


Governor Jay Nixon: (573) 751-3222
Mayor Francis Slay: (314) 534-2009
Board of Aldermen: (314) 622-3287       
County Executive Charlie Dooley: (314) 615-7016

Learn more about Amendment 7 and the proposed projects:

Join the movement for better public transit: This leaflet was produced by Occupy Public Transportation in St. Louis (OPTINSTL). If you ride public transit, consider boycotting Metro in protest of the fare increase! 
please print and share this leaflet            

Sunday, June 15, 2014


So Chesterfield is going to pitch in on getting some bus stops with shelters.  I am glad that Chesterfield is stepping up to the plate.  Metro's deplorable CEO John Nations is the former Mayor of Chesterfield.  It is good to know that Nations attitude towards public transit riders is not shared by all of his neighbors.


Chesterfield’s City Council on Monday night gave initial approval an cooperation agreement between the city, Metro, and the Chesterfield Valley Transportation Development District for of bus stop shelters in Chesterfield valley and in other areas of the city in which there are Metro bus routes. A final vote on the legislation is set for June 16. 

The article states that the shelters will be installed in Chesterfield and also in other areas of the city.  In Chesterfield the bus stop trashcans will be maintained by the Chesterfield's waste management provider.  The trash around bus stops is an issue for everyone.

Too bad Metro gave away $5 million in "contributions to outside entities" (political campaign contributions) in 2013.  That would surely pay for some new shelters and maintenance. ($5 million is also the exact amount that Metro is demanding riders pay for in the next two years through the fare hikes.)

OPTINSTL thinks it might be a bad idea to leave the planning and construction up to Metro.  Mismanagement of funds is systemic at Metro.  After the Shrewsbury debacle, and their continued insolvency and inability to complete  Metrolink expansion to north Saint Louis and Florissant, they need to be audited and overhauled before they are entrusted with any new projects or public money.

At the very least, I hope that someone from Chesterfield will be appointed to audit the planning and construction very closely.

OPTINSTL would like to suggest that Chesterfield add bus schedules and route information, and perhaps install recycling bins that issue public transit credits for plastic bottles.  Also, I hope they will work closely with street services to make sure the new shelters have sufficient lighting and sidewalks in good condition.  Not just in Chesterfield, but all over the city.

Bus stops:


It is a shame that Metro has not placed a greater priority on surveying its' bus riders.  (They do a once a year survey, a very incomplete survey, on the Metrolink.  But the bus is the biggest portion of their service, and north St. Louis City and county constitute the greatest share of riders.  Metro executives and planners know almost nothing about their best customers.)

If Metro did thorough surveys, they could tell the city of Chesterfield the bus routes that were used the most.  The #91 and #258 easy guesses, but what about the many riders that make one or more transfers?

OPTINSTL spoke with a rider on the #90 bus that lives in Baden and works in Chesterfield.  It is a two hour ride each way.  He takes the #90 to the Metrolink, and then the Blue Line to the #258.  There are no shelters at either of his bus stops.  (And no public bathrooms at all along the way.  When will this most basic of human needs be addressed?)

Improved bus stop shelters will help a lot, but Metro still has a long way to go in becoming a truly viable public transit agency. 




This is what happens when you have a Republican governor.  The Philly transit workers had barely declared their strike when they were ordered back to work via declaration of a "Presidential Emergency".

The real emergency is the appalling lack of worker's right in the world's richest nation.  The real emergency is the collapse of unions and the rise of "Right To Work" legislation. 

The transit agency should have been forced to mediate to stop the strike- not the other way around!

I hope the Philly transit workers won't back down.  They deserve better!

We all do!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Beijing has installed recycling bins that give public transit credits for plastic "PET"bottles.

"With the machines, the firm hopes to collect directly from the public and generate extra revenue from government subsidies and sales of advertising shown on the machine's screens. Incom says it plans to approach Coca-Cola and other beverage retailers.
Similar devices have been used in several countries, including the US, Japan and Brazil, but they have benefited from civic mindedness, convenience and widespread ignorance about the true value of PET." 

See the cool recycling machines in this video:

This is such a brilliant idea, I don't know why every city doesn't do this!

Step up, Metro!

Monday, June 2, 2014


Way to go, San Francisco!

It sounds like their situation is similar to Metro drivers.  Of course, union-busting Metro CEO John Nations** has let his drivers go for six years without a new bargaining contract, raise, and also eroding the pension plan, especially for new hires.

Nations himself, however, has been receiving his $250,000 a year salary, and his bonuses.  As are the other executives.

Politicians, and civic leaders, and "powerful" businessmen keep telling us what a great job they are doing, and how we can't live without them.  It would be chaos and anarchy, nothing would get done without them.

But the truth is, they need us much more than we need them.


Time to show our strength!

**Nations is fond of telling his drivers that the first thing he will do when he gets out of Metro and becomes governor or senator is to pass "Right To Work".  Legislation that makes it possible to hire non-union employees to do the same work for lower pay. We need more unions, not fewer.