The more I learn and the more I talk to people, the more this develops.  For four years I have ridden the public transit in St. Louis, and everything in this blog is result of this experience.  Bi-State Development Agency seems rife with corrupt officials at the very top, using Metro as a funnel for government funds and to further personal political and individual business interests.  It's not a conspiracy, it doesn't need to be, it's "business as usual" for the Good Ole Boy Network. 

And the fact that they don't have an "ideal model" that they work from, and strive for.  (How many riders do they need to be solvent? What new rail lines and bus support? What is the model for providing service to all sections of the city and county- not "equally", as in every region has the same service, but so that each area has a transit system that is responsive to its' needs for excellent, timely service?) That they are happy to just plod along behind the models of other similar sized cities is pathetic.  St. Louis deserves to have real visionaries shaping it's public transit system.  An outline for the perfect transit system, and all focus is on achieving that, and not just ho-hum, this is the best we can do.  Time to get the paycheck and clock out.

Metro's leadership is comprised of wealthy, white, suburban executives that have never depended on public transit, and rarely have ridden it.  (There is one African-American executive, a V.P. in Human Resources, a woman.) 

The majority of Metro's workers are African-American.  The areas that rely on public transportation the most are predominantly African-American, low income, and urban.  Metro's biggest service is the buses, but most of their outreach and expenditure (and self-congratulating) is on the Metrolink, which was set up on existing and mostly unused freight lines, and which really serves no one conveniently, with the exception of a few stops.

Public transit seems to be an afterthought in Bi-State Development Agency dba Metro.  That needs to change.

Immediate (Through March 2015):

Reverse July 2014 Scheduled Fare Increase

EDIT-- Sadly, this failed, but there is another scheduled increase to prepare for.  Although, hopefully by then the revolution will have succeeded-- not just for public transit, but in regaining control of our government altogether.

Create public support for Bus driver's union in their struggle to get Metro to give them a new bargaining agreement, protect their wages, benefits and pensions.

Commence construction of toilet facilities at North Hanley Metrolink, Delmar Metrolink, Shrewsbury Metrolink, Civic Center, East Grand Bus Transfer Center,; obtain Metro's commitment to install toilets at all other existing and scheduled Metrolink stations and Bus transfer centers.  Better facilities overall:

Better bus stops.

Better surveys and rider outreach.

Day passes available on all buses:

Better fare structures overall:

Longer customer service hours, and recorded messages when there is a bus broken down and other delays.  (Not everyone has a smart phone or data plan and can sign up for email or text alerts.)  And route supervisors should be required to drive the length of the route if a bus breaks down and tell waiting passengers.  Same with temporary re-routes.  Posting paper flyers is not enough.  Someone needs to patrol to be sure that people aren't waiting for buses that aren't coming.

Full transparency (without necessity of filing Sunshine Act requests) on all of Metro's operating and planning budget.  And that transparency needs to be comprehensible to the general public. A person should not have to wade through 60 page financial reports filled with marketing doublespeak and vague population statistics to find out what Metro is doing with out money.

If necessary, public audit or recall of Prop A, if investigation proves that public was duped and funds have not been distributed from the bond measure to Metro services as promised during the election.  And possible audit of County Executive Office. 

Abolish Metro's practice of making "contributions to outside entities":
In studying their year end fiscal reports, I discovered that in fiscal year 2013 they spent $5 million on "contributions to outside entities".  This is the exact amount of money they are requesting in fare increases from their riders.  I DECLARE SHENANIGANS!

Resignation of CEO John Nations. The public does not need a public transit CEO that makes a quarter of million dollars a year and makes no secret of the fact that he is only doing it to groom his future senate campaign.

Long -term (1 year to ???)

Through this blog and grass-roots activism, raise awareness of transit issues among the general public and government officials.

Separate Bi-State Development Agency from Metro.  I am investigating the best method for this. I think a combination of petitions, and perhaps a lawsuit.

Re-structure Metro Transit Agency so that it is run by people that have the public's interests at heart.  Where governing bodies are public transit workers and citizens.  Where alliances are formed not for business development or the purpose of owning real estate, or among those that own the most real estate-but on improved transit performance for the people that rely on it, street services, and greater mobility for all citizens and communities equally, regardless of "business development potential."

Create the opportunity for unemployed and low income to obtain discount or free bus passes. Make it easier for people to obtain these passes.
Accountability from the East West Gateway Council of Goverments and the Greenway projects:

End Vision

As I said, the more I learn, the more this vision grows, but I think Metro's sole focus should be public transit, with a greater emphasis on Metrolink and railway.  And working with the city and counties on street and sidewalk repair and maintenance, lighting, sanitation facilities, safety and security for riders.

Routes and services that reflect the changing St. Louis experience (no more 35 year plans, based on general population studies and "business development").

More community outreach and working to create more liaisons in the public.  These hearings and town hall meetings are ridiculous and ineffective.  The buses and trains should be the first point of contact with Metro customers, and the responsibility of Metro officials.  It should not rely on the customers individual initiative to attend, and routes should not be determined by the 20-40 people that are able to attend.

I want a CEO that drove a bus.  Or two CEO's, paid equally, one that has worked public transit and one that has the planning and engineering knowledge necessary.  We should see them on the buses and trains regularly, seeking our input and experiencing what riders and driver/operators experience.  People that want to make St. Louis a world class transit system, and not move on in five years to a senate seat.

There may have to be some sort of legal action to allow people that live in neighborhoods where public transit is needed have the same voting power on proposed projects as absentee property and business land owners.

Ultimately, no one within city limits should be more than 30 minutes by bus to a Metrolink station.  I mean the wait and the ride.  I don't mean a thirty minute ride on a bus that runs once every 40 minutes or once an hour.  

Explore more fully the use of smaller buses, shuttles, urban circulators, and possibly street cars.

Use existing funding, including rider revenues, to increase ridership overall, so that surplus is created to continue improvements, and to strengthen the position of public transit in the region overall. 

I do not want a job at Metro-- the current version or the ideal version.  I want to live in a city with great public transportation and do my thing.  I want these changes because I can see how much better things could be with these changes.  I am doing this because I hope more people will join me- or start their own coalitions and action groups. 

I might be able to create all of these changes on through my own efforts, but I also think that St. Louis needs to start asking the right questions and getting more involved in what is happening in this city.  I am doing what I can.  I hope you will join me.

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