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Clergy group calls on Metro to provide more busses for north St. Louis

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – An African-American clergy organization is asking the St. Louis transit agency Metro to provide more bus service for north side neighborhoods.

The Reverend Ken McCoy is a spokesman for MOSES (Metropolitan Organizations Strengthening and Empowering Society).

He said cuts in Metro bus service have hurt low-income African-Americans trying to get to jobs in places like west St. Louis County.

"When you talk about people who have gainful employment, you're talking about a reduction in crime," said McCoy. "You can literally transform an impoverished community with the right type of public transportation plan."

The group alleges that Metro has given priority to light rail, which serves more affluent suburban communities.

Metro responded by saying it will need more proof of transportation needs before adding more bus routes.

MOSES also called on Metro to provide free service to senior citizens, similar to the plan passed by the Illinois Legislature last month.

Metro said it cannot offer free rides for senior citizens without some form of subsidy. Raymond Friem is Senior Vice-President of Transit Operations for Metro.

He said offering free service to seniors would cost the agency close to $5-million.

"We're on a shoestring budget as is, but have an idea what it would take to replace that and make it free to seniors if the region or the state is interested in doing so."

Friem said Metro already gives seniors half-price fares.

Senior citizens account for 30-percent of MetroBus customers.

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