The harsh reality of contemporary public transit is one paved by failed financial circumstances. In order to better understand the context in which St. Louis public transit has found itself, it is absolutely critical to wider the community ken on the national situation. Public transit systems cannot fund themselves – even systems like New York, which provides service to 11 million riders – cannot run trains and fuel buses through mere fare adjustment or agency firings.
Service downgrades have been inflicted on some of the most famous and legendary systems in the United States, and they have suffered these because they exist for the public good – because they need the help and support from local, state, and national tax bases in order to survive. St. Louis cannot escape the reality of service attrition without the full strength of its community; it is the time for neighbors – city and county – to advocate for each other. We have a chance to return our system to robust strength and, with that new strength, direct our community towards a better and brighter horizon.
Check out Transportation for America for more information on nationwide public transit cuts or, click on the included image (to your left) for a great graphic exhibiting the severity of cuts. These systems are the 15 most popular (based on ridership) in the United States. St. Louis can escape a fate worse than jobs losses and service attrition if it has the support of public funds; it cannot survive on its own and any expectation that public transit can is neglecting the truths demonstrated by highways and roadways. Our collective money – our community writ-large – supports our infrastructure, an infrastructure we rely on for travel, safety, and convenience. To ignore the importance of public transit as a common and permanent good is to ignore our previous commitments to our community. We must remain dedicated and devoted to consistency within our actions, we must be willing to move forward as a group rather than individuals. The stake of others is replicated in your own stake – no matter a success or failure, our community will share the future.
Most importantly, realize that local public transit provides almost 200,000 community members with transit. That number should only be allowed to increase, and that means paying a little bit extra everytime you make a purchase. This is not merely to save transit, it is crucial for saving jobs and invigorating our local economy. It is crucial for the stability of our future. Please register to vote and make a point getting involved. It is time for action. Check out our Active Participation section for more info.
Your voice is important to saving public transit; we need you to provide your ideas and energy to ensure victory on April 6, 2010. Below are all the ways you can reach out to established groups and ways you can be an important member of the MOVE 2010 Campaign:
RESTORE AND EXPAND PUBLIC TRANSIT IN ST LOUIS
VOTE YES FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT IN ST LOUIS
TRACKING PROGRESS (ON FACEBOOK)
You can also check out everything you’d need to know about writing letters to the editor by going over to our Active Participation section.
You can also register to vote for the April 6, 2010 County Election by filling out an application – which is right here: VOTER REGISTRATION – if you have any questions about voter registration, please read below:
HOW DO I REGISTER?
Registering is easy – you can do it from your office.
1. Download the voter registration form, print it out, fill it out.
DON’T FORGET TO SIGN!
2. Make a copy of your ID: Driver’s license, utility bill, bank
statement, or paycheck that has your name and your current address on
3. Mail the form and the copy of your ID to:
The Board of Election Commissioners
12 Sunnen Dr., Ste. 126
St. Louis, MO 63143
4. Wait 7 business days. You should get a card in the mail confirming
your registration. That’s it! Now just remember to vote on Election
Day, April 6, 2010.
You can also provide us with some info about yourself by completing our online survey – MOVE 2010 Online Survey – or by printing off our paper copy and giving it to your friends – just make sure you get those forms to us at one of our events. Most importantly, stay updated on all the events related to saving public transit. Tracking Progress will be holding rallies in the next few weeks and we are going to need your help!
Tracking Progress believes that community transformation is predicated on the mobilization of stakeholders and residents. In order for this local human enterprise to truly succeed we depend on the time, energy, and ideas of real people living their real lives. As part of this commitment to an authentic perspective on our community we need information about you and the people you know. This campaign to save public transit can only survive if those who are most involved – the employees of Metro St. Louis and those relying on public transit to maintain their livelihoods – are at the critical ground-level and willing to provide their ideas and endurance to the cause. One of the most important steps to this is joining the Pro-Transit groups on Facebook, we have provided those groups at the bottom of this post. Our struggle to save public transit can only be successful if it is fueled by the shared strength of those involved, therefore, we ask that you take five minutes and provide us with some information about yourself and how you believe you fit into the current MOVE 2010 Campaign. After completing our short survey you only need press submit and we’ll have all the information you’ve carefully supplied. In the coming days and weeks, as we move closer to the April election, we will call on you to be responsible for the future of our community. We hope, when that time comes, you answer the call.
Tracking Progress has provided two options for working to ensure the survival of public transit in St. Louis. The first option is online, which can be accessed by pressing the following link – SAVE PUBLIC TRANSIT ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRE – this link allows you to supply your personal information in an effort to build a strong group of volunteers and activists. Our other option, which is a printable document, can be accessed by pressing this link – SAVE PUBLIC TRANSIT QUESTIONNAIRE - this link allows you to not only supply your information but also lets you give the form to your friends, coworkers, and family in an effort to further strengthen the pro-public transit campaign. We believe that this struggle to save transit in St. Louis depends on the ability of this community to move as one, to move as a whole towards a better future. That future can only be realized if each and every one of us is willing to put the time and effort in to work for the passing of public transit funding on April 6, 2010.
You can also get involved by joining one of the Facebook sites for Pro-Transit in St. Louis, these can be found by pressing one or both of these links: VOTE YES FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT and RESTORE AND EXPAND PUBLIC TRANSIT IN ST. LOUIS. We have also provided a list of every publication and newspaper in St. Louis, so that each and every stakeholder can tell St. Louis why public transit is important. This link – LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – can help anyone interested in formulating successful letters that emphasize public transit as well as the unique experience that each person can bring to the conversation.
Every person involved is someone who can move this struggle closer to success. Every voice moves our dialogue ever closer to ensuring that our community continues growing and progressing. We are St. Louis; each of us represents the most important perspectives in the story of local public transit. We also ask that you join our Facebook group and let us know the aspects of this struggle that are most important to you – we can be reached by accessing this link: TRACKING PROGRESS. Our work and labor can only achieve the results we expect if each of us participates in this process; our ability to change the course of this city relies on the capacity of each of us to act, not as individuals but as a community that believes in its future. The future of public transit is the future of this community; it is time to provide your energy, labor, sweat, commitment, ideas, time, laughter, humor, dedication, and daring to this beautiful struggle.
If you would like to contact any of personally, please do so by commenting to this post or emailing one of us at the following emails: email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please continue to seek out our site for updates on political and social actions in support of public transit.
(Note: No personal or contact information will be utilized by any parties outside of Tracking Progress – complete fields at your discretion; we believe in honesty and integrity and we stand by that in our practice.)
Vilification of public transit leadership is one of the more traditional arguments against funding; opponents perceive agencies to be static enterprises in which authority remains crystallized, thus edifying the prevailing agency philosophy. Metro St. Louis, the local public transit agency, has come under intense scrutiny because of past misjudgments and inadequate leadership. The agency – which is in fact a non-profit – has been victim to the character flaws of its executives, but it has not been flawed indefinitely by these behaviors and indiscretions.
Metro St. Louis – under the watchful eye of Bob Baer – has worked tirelessly to change agency philosophy and to renew its commitment to strong regional transit. The trying days of Larry Salci – who never saw public transit as a harbinger of social justice and community development – are over and in its place has arrived an agency dedicated to smarter and more deliberate public transit. Tracking Progress has provided a guide to the changes also pressed upon the Metro St. Louis Board of Commissioners over the last several years. As you’ll see, the problems of the past should be relegated to the past – those leaders of the early 2000s have been deposed, and a new group of civic-minded individuals have taken their place (those marked with an X have left the board). No agency is perfect, but a public transit system that understands the importance of strong leadership, as well as the importance of changing leadership, is one worth supporting.
METRO ST LOUIS BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS 2000-2008
You can also find the list and biographies of the current 2009-2010 Board of Commissioners at http://www.metrostlouis.org/InsideMetro/BoardOfCommissioners.asp
Tracking Progress is proud to provide a brief dictionary – albeit comprehensive in some regards – on public transit in the St. Louis area. Our team believes, perhaps presciently suspects, these (truly-fake/fakely-true) words offer both insight and perspective on the numerous metroubles that currently enervate and await local public transit advocates.
Metropic: the inability to see the importance of public transit
Metrocity: the elimination of public transit
Metrouble: the current state of affairs for local public transit
Metromance: the exhibiting of affection for local public transit
Metroxygen: the substance with which to resuscitate public transit
Metroglodyte: a creature that hides from public transit, usually in distant less-dense residential areas
Metrojan: a person attempting to protect and save public transit
Metroika: the triad of light rail trains, buses, and Call-a-Ride
Metrotskyite: an individual who believes public transit can revolutionize a community
Metronome: a function of public transit able to maintain community rhythm, thus resulting in greater harmony
Metrospect: the ability to see an area in the context of public transit connectivity and possibility
Metropical: the positive experience of seeking out public transit while on vacation
Metrombone: a colloquial term for the whistle of an LRT or the sound of bus brakes
Metrocracy: a form of government that supports public transit
Metrofitted: the implementation of public transit on a previously non-utilized area
Metroblink: the sudden imperceptibility of public transit
Metroxford: the false feeling of sophistication some experience while riding public transit
Metroscillate: fluctuations in public transit service
Metrobsolete: the eventual state of poorly-funded public transit
Metrobfuscation: the act of opposing public transit because of deeper, more reviled oppositions (racism, classism)
Metroptimism: positive feelings towards the future of public transit
Metropulence: highly-successful public transit (London, Tokyo, Chicago)
Metroll: a demagogue for anti-public transit groups
Tracking Progress will be providing more Metrologisms in the next couple of days. But, take heart fair readers, these can either be a laughing matter or a topic of serious discussion. The last thing we want is a bunch of metropic metrolls rendering our public transit metrobsolete.
Thanks to everyone who made it out to the first Public Transit Meetup, we appreciated having all of the different voices come together and discuss what’s important, see you at the next one: From Citizens for Modern Transit is an analysis of transit-oriented development (TOD) in the St. Louis metropolitan area; The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a story on St. Louis developers finding future prosperity in current transit parking lots; Check out the info on transit-oriented development over at ReconnectingAmerica.org; The Transit Oriented Development Advocate has some successful case studies of TOD; The Federal Transit Administration has provided a brief summary of social, environmental, and fiscal benefits stemming from TOD; The Poughkeepsie Journal outlines the potential of TOD for the Manhattan suburb; Pittsburgh, currently finishing a huge LRT project, is evaluating future TOD in suburban and city areas; The Bordentown Township, in New Jersey, is readying for its own TOD transit-village looking forward to the economic boon from high-speed rail project; Connecticut is developing housing and businesses around existing busways, and ; Finally, the transit system of the day is the Niagara-Frontier Transportation Authority and resides in Buffalo, NY.
To my fellow St. Louisans:
In one direction lies a new way forward; one in which public transit expands and our community prospers. In the other direction lies the past, full of the same divisions and arguments separating the county from the city for over a century. We will have our opportunity to sow seeds of community interdependence on April 6, 2010.
The county council has voted to place public transit funding initiative back on the ballot, allowing the public to choose its destiny. This measure calls for a one half of one percent sales tax increase across the county to fund the restoration and expansion of regional public transit. The city passed its version in 1997, but it can’t be implemented until the county matches. The combination of these two new revenues would provide our public transit system with the local match needed to secure federal funding for expansion. The further denial of these funds will deny St. Louis the opportunity to become a modern community.
Our time is now; our community calls us to act. We cannot sit idly and wait for someone else to do the right thing. Gather your friends and family, your neighbors and coworkers together and help form the movement. Shake the grounds of established divisions and point the conversation to change, for too long has our community fallen victim to artificial boundaries and misguided perceptions. We are all part of the same community, and funding public transit can renew the promise of our region. The door has been opened for us to claim our moment in history.
Tracking Progress is more than happy to provide links to timely and important analyses, commentaries, news stories, and information. We feel that the only way to have an authentic campaign is to include thorough and thought-provoking access to the most critical voices on the internet and in our community. We believe this convenience is crucial because it gives reall human beings to power to make decisions and claim stake in any dispute or struggle. Our common ground is our ability to meet problems and dilemmas with a unified and informed front – we are all part of the local community enterprise moving to better horizons. We believe in St. Louis, MO and we believe, through dedication and participatory labor, we can transform the modern moment. That power is one with which we can all motivate change; that power comes from us knowing as much as we can, and it finds its truest identity when it is used to assist others in understanding the facts and realities. It is a process by which we all move forward, and St. Louis, MO, our community and our home – in the most impassioned and meaningful sense – needs those facts to succeed. Today, we’re interested in linking you to one very solid fact: transit is essential for a strong economy and a strong community. Tracking Progress hopes 2010 brings you and yours joy and harmony; and, we hope it brings St. Louis a little closer to emerging as a place of innovation, strength, and transformative power.
Individuals, activists, organization representatives, and concerned residents will be meeting up at 3:15pm on January 2, 2010 for a brainstorm session about the new county campaign to fund and restore public transit. The meeting will be held at Kayak’s Coffee and Provisions, which is just off the Skinker MetroLink, and it is also a very short walk from the 1, 2, and 16 MetroBus Skinker stops. Send all ideas and questions to email@example.com. Kayak’s is located at the corner of Skinker and Forest Park Parkway, across from Washington University.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) provides passengers easy access to transit vehicles and quicker travel on highways, bus lanes, and established streets. Metro St. Louis is taking serious consideration of employing BRT on local highways and on Grand Avenue; this kind of transit expansion would eliminate long waits, missed transfers – all the while keeping construction costs low. Stops would function similar to train stations, providing riders with consistent locations and solid scheduling. The BRT vehicles are not buses, they’re Rapid Transit Vehicles, and they would operate by stopping every 6-8 blocks while running every 15-20 minutes. Hybrid technology has allowed the creation of environmentally-friendly BRT vehicles that run longer and use less gas – creating low environmental impact and high economic impact. Tracking Progress presents a rundown of BRT worldwide and, ultimately, providing a picture window into the possible future of Saint Louis public transit.
The BRT Healthline in Cleveland has been an overwhelming success, leaders in the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority have been gushing about their achievements; The first BRT on the globe was built on the streets of Curitaba, Brazil, and it continues to carry 85% of the local population - check out the BRT tube stops; The first in the US was the El Monte Busway near Los Angeles, which continues to run since 1974; The Port Authority of Alleghany County has a great section on the effectiveness of BRT in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area; The National Bus Rapid Transit Institute has tons of information on funding and building BRT, including a list of all the systems in the US; Kansas City, MO has a BRT line – The MAX – and the local transit system has provided a handy overview; Finally, your own public transit system has supplied an awesome summary of possible local BRT, check it out.