Residents can weigh in starting today on proposed fare increases for mass transit in St. Louis. The Metro transit agency is considering three options for raising fares this year – one would increase only the costs of weekly, monthly and university semester passes; the second would raise the cost of all passes except day passes; and the third would spread the increase to all fares, including buses and Metrolink.
Warmer weather, a sunnier economy, and higher gas prices are driving more riders to public transportation in St. Louis. Overall Metro ridership was up 8 percent in the last half of 2011 compared to the previous year.
Dianne Williams is Metro's director of communications.
"Twenty-three million times someone stepped on a metro bus, a metro train, or a metro caller ride. That's up about 2 million boardings from the same period last year," Williams said.
Starting next month, passengers who ride MetroLink or Metro buses will be be able to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables at certain transit centers.
The mass transit agency is partnering with the Sappington Farmers Market community program, Mobile Market, to sell locally-grown farm foods in areas where nearby residents have little or no access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
A months-long project that will involve grinding Metrolink’s entire system of rails begins Friday night.
It’s the first time since the late 1990’s that Metro has done the grinding on its light rail line. Metro spokeswoman Dianne Williams says it will make the track more smooth and improve riders' experience.
"It needs to be done periodically. It simply extends the life of the rail, and that's a big investment in the track," Williams said.
The work will be done at night, which means people may see bright red sparks where the grinding of metal on metal is being done.
The St. Louis County prosecutor has issued arrest warrants for a man who pointed a gun at a MetroLink security officer.
The warrants are for 29-year-old Dominic L. Webb of North County for one count of unlawful use of a weapon and one count of unlawful possession of a concealable firearm. The bond was set at $20,000.
A security officer saw a disturbance between Webb and another man at the Hanley MetroLink platform on Tuesday, Jan. 24 around 4 p.m. The security officer intervened and Webb pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the officer.
A Democratic Congressman from Missouri has proposed giving transit agencies across the country more flexibility in how they spend federal transit dollars.
Rep. Russ Carnahan says despite millions of dollars from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the stimulus bill), more than 85 percent of transit systems across the country had to cut service, raise fares, or both - even as more and more people came to rely on transit.
That, Carnahan says, is because the federal money has to go toward capital purchases like new buses.
The Missouri Department of Transportation has canceled some lane closures on the Poplar Street Bridge this weekend.
All lanes on the Poplar Street Bridge will be open this weekend, though the department will still close the I-55 northbound exit ramp from 11 p.m. Saturday until noon Sunday.
Some of the work can't be done in the predicted rainy weather, says MoDOT spokeswoman Kara Price, though she says crews may also have taken into consideration the numerous events at downtown venues this weekend.
MetroLink is running regular service this morning across both tracks at the scene of an accident that happened yesterday in Pagedale. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that several injuries were reported after a MetroLink light rail train hit a tow truck stalled at a crossing. The eastbound train struck the flatbed truck around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Passengers reported seeing at least five people being taken to hospitals by ambulance. Metro spokeswoman Dianne Williams said she was told the injuries did not appear to be serious. The tow truck was unoccupied. Investigators are trying to figure out why it stalled on the tracks.
"The relationship with Russia is key in terms of us getting the missile defense systems in place that can check Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, if in fact they decide that they will either utilize the nuclear weapons they have, the case in Pakistan, or continue to move towards nuclear capability, in the case of North Korea and Iran." - Sen. Claire McCaskill
St. Archbishop Robert Carlson is continuing work on what he has called his top priority - improving Catholic schools in the region. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that for the past year, Carlson has been meeting with parents, teachers, pastors and national experts. The goal is to develop strategies to improve Catholic education in the St. Louis Archdiocese, where enrollment in its 11 counties has been steadily declining for four decades. The newspaper says Carlson is positioning the St. Louis Archdiocese to follow the lead of other large Catholic school systems that have restructured to stop the loss of students.
"We don't have to sit by and let this happen. Let's grow this system again." - Archbishop Robert Carlson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.