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MetroLink

The St. Louis County Council approved three charter amendments earlier this month. One would provide the council with more authority over the county budget.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council has voted to temporarily withhold some of the county money that goes to the region’s Bi-State transit agency in a quest to improve security on the MetroLink light rail line.

The council’s action is in response to various violent incidents in recent months on or near the rail line, including one that resulted in the fatal shooting of a county health department employee.

All six council members present Tuesday night voted in favor of a bill withholding $5 million from the county’s funding for Metro security. That’s a fraction of the county’s overall scheduled spending of $157 million this year to help fund all Bi-State transit operations.

A new Belleville News-Democrat investigation challenges common perceptions about how safe MetroLink is.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Early Tuesday morning, the Belleville News-Democrat published an in-depth investigation into just how safe the St. Louis region’s MetroLink light-rail system is, ultimately concluding that it “isn’t as dangerous as you think” and that crime rates have declined.

Hours later, a man was shot and killed at the South Grand Boulevard Metro station during an argument between two other people. He was an innocent bystander waiting for a bus.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh led an on-air discussion prompted by this juxtaposition.

South Grand Boulevard Metro Bus station
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:45 p.m. with comments from Bi-State Development and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department — The man shot and killed Tuesday evening at the South Grand Boulevard Metro station in St. Louis was longtime St. Louis County Health Department Public Information Officer Craig LeFebvre, St. Louis police said Wednesday.

According to police, LeFebvre was waiting at the bus stop on the bridge above the Grand MetroLink station, where people were arguing. One of the men shot LeFebvre, who was not involved in the argument, and another man. LeFebvre later died at a nearby hospital.  He was 48.

A train of spectators broke a ribbon at Cortex MetroLink Station on Tuesday morning. July 31, 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

A new MetroLink stop opened on Tuesday in St. Louis’ Cortex tech district.

The Cortex MetroLink Station is the first new station built in more than 10 years. It’s also the first Metro Transit construction project built with both private and public funding.

The Cortex MetroLink Station is the 38th station to come to fruition within the light-rail system, which first began service in 1993. The grand opening is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 31.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

MetroLink riders along the central corridor will soon have a new spot to hop aboard both red- and blue-line trains.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed what the new Cortex MetroLink Station and other plans in the works could mean for the future of transit in the region.

Joining him to talk about it were Jessica Mefford-Miller, interim executive director of Metro Transit, and June McAllister Fowler, the newly announced board chair for Citizens for Modern Transit.

Metro Transit

A new MetroLink station will open in St. Louis’ Cortex Innovation Community later this month.

The light-rail stop is located on the east side of Boyle Avenue between the existing Central West End and Grand stations. It’s part of a $15.4-million project to update transportation options surrounding the St. Louis tech hub. The station marks Metro Transit’s first construction project built with both private and public funding.

Metro Transit spokesperson Patti Beck said the stop will support Cortex’s growth as a tech hub.

A MetroLink train
File Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Serious crimes on the three-county MetroLink system have decreased in 2018, according to St. Louis and St. Louis County officials.

Violent crimes and thefts have decreased by 70 percent on MetroLink trains, stations and parking lots in St. Louis County compared to this time last year, according to St. Louis County Police Captain Scott Melies. And, he claims crime has decreased about “10 — 12 percent” in 2018 throughout the system, which stretches through St. Clair County, St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Jessica Mefford-Miller of Metro Transit (right) hands a rider a pamphlet on Metro's suggested service plans at an informational meetin. April 3, 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Metro Transit plans to offer more frequent bus service, altered bus routes, text and email notification services and small vehicles along lesser-used routes in the St. Louis region.

Metro officials will revise the plan’s current draft in May, after seeking public comments throughout this month.

The Northside-Southside Consulting team presented the results of its ongoing study at the first of three open houses.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Thirty percent of people in the St. Louis region who might rely on a north-south MetroLink route do not have access to a car, according to an ongoing transit study.

The Northside-Southside Consulting Team shared the results of its study and other information Tuesday during an open house at the Five Star Senior Center in the Benton Park West neighborhood of south St. Louis.

A north-south MetroLink route could help more people in St. Louis travel to jobs and spur job development, said Dan Meyers, a senior transportation planner for AECOM, a consulting firm for the rail system.

Links 2 Health, a mobile health screening unit, is providing services at four north St. Louis County Metro transit centers. December 1, 2017.
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

A mobile health screening unit will begin providing services on Monday at four north St. Louis County Metro transit centers.

 

Links 2 Health was announced Friday during a ceremony at the Wellston Transit Center.

 

The program is a collaborative between the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and Bi-State Development to bring the mobile unit to transit riders in north St. Louis County.

 

Metro's newly-renovated downtown transit center will include round-the-clock security inside the new commuter waiting area.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Safety improvements and better bus access are some of the key components of the newly-renovated Civic Center Transit facility across from Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis.

Metro is taking the wraps off the $10.5 million project this week. The center had been home to nine MetroBus bays for a total of 16 routes. The renovation increases the number of buses that will converge at 14th and Spruce.

"18 total bays, 23 bus routes. The opportunity for para-transit - the Call-A-Ride vans- to come in and out," Metro Executive Director Ray Friem told St. Louis Public Radio.

St. Louis County Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights, July 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Louis County Councilman Pat Dolan to the program for the first time.

A MetroLink train
File Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9 a.m. July 26 with more details — There will be an investigation into whether the St. Louis County officers assigned to patrol MetroLink stations and trains violated any laws, the St. Louis County Council decided Tuesday on the heels of three reports by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar on July 24, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:45 a.m. July 25 with County Council expected to consider a related resolution — St. Louis County’s police chief disputed allegations Monday that his officers aren’t working hard enough to keep MetroLink trains safe.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

MetroLink trains whisked by in the background as officials gathered to break ground on a new light rail station in the Cortex Innovation District.

The new $12.6 million station will be located on the east side of Boyle Ave. It’s expected to be completed in about a year.

Cortex President and CEO Dennis Lower said having a stop will allow the district’s 4,500 employees to get to work without cars and allow business partners to come straight from the airport.

“All of that is important with the technology community and that we work with every day,” Lower said.

Metrolink 2014
Paul Sableman | Flickr

The three counties that fund MetroLink signed an agreement Thursday they say will help keep the train system safe.

The deal among the city of St. Louis, and St. Louis and St. Clair counties, would eventually put all law enforcement officers assigned to patrol MetroLink under the command of one person. Eventually, those police and sheriffs' deputies also would get the authority to work anywhere on the system, a process known as cross deputization.

St. Louis Public Radio journalists Erica Hunzinger (L) and Rachel Lippmann (R) joined us for Behind the Headlines.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s “Behind the Headlines” with St. Louis on the Air, we took an in-depth look at some of the top news stories of the week.

We checked in on the Missouri legislature’s last day of their 2017 session. We also heard about MetroLink’s promised security upgrades after a string of violent incidents this winter and spring.

Officials are considering the addition of turnstiles to the MetroLink system.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two homicides on or near MetroLink trains less than a month apart this year put crime on the transit system back in the spotlight, to the point that officials set aside $20 million for public safety and changed how the system that spans the Metro East and the St. Louis area is policed.

Those efforts and talk of adding turnstiles will mean nothing, however, if the people who ride the rails and buses don’t feel safe. Plus, closing off the system by adding turnstiles will take millions of dollars and several years.

A MetroLink train
File Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating at least seven claims that security guards on MetroLink trains and platforms acted like police officers — allegations the Bi-State Development Agency,  which runs the transportation system, denies.

The department wrote its first report about a MetroLink guard attempting to make an arrest on April 8, St. Louis County Police spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire said Tuesday, though incidents are alleged to have happened before  that. The security guards are not licensed as officers by the state and therefore don’t have authority to arrest anyone.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The leaders of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County say they are working with law enforcement to make it safer to ride MetroLink.

After meeting privately for more than an hour Wednesday, St. Louis Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said they have a framework to improve security along the light-rail line that connects the three counties.

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