Letter to the Editor published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on January 19, 2010:
Opponents of the new measure to fund local public transit continue to play fast and loose with the facts. Their claims remain specious and are sustained only through their refusal to understand public transit.
The April 6 vote on funding is not a bailout; it is half of the funding source already passed by the St. Louis city in 1997. Since then, the sales tax increase in the city has existed only on the books. The county must pass its version for the city’s to go into effect. Public transit is of extreme importance for the future of the entire St. Louis community.
Our transit agency is more than trains. It is a system of modalities, each providing unique service to residents of the St. Louis area.
The sales tax increase is not meant merely to support expansion of the train system. The funds will restore countywide bus routes and service, increase the frequency of trains and help fund the return of a robust Call-a-Ride system. Funds also will support future transit options, including bus-based rapid transit and the renovation of bus stops and train stations. Expansion means future security, safety and strength of public transit.
Understanding the nature of public transit is crucial to understanding the importance of the April 6 vote. People who are against the funding measure should look beyond their tax-fearing rhetoric if they want to comprehend this critical moment.
Michael Koscielniak — St. Louis