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Metro makes massive cuts to balance 2010 budget

(KWMU photo)
Metro CEO Bob Baer addresses a packed house at the agency's downtown headquarters before the board votes on service cuts

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis region's public transit agency has approved a sharp reduction in services as it struggles to balance its 2010 budget

The plan approved by Metro's board of commissioners Friday eliminates most bus service outside of Interstate 270, and the Call-A-Ride service on those lines. MetroLink will no longer run special event trains, and 600 employees will be laid off.

"First of all, on behalf of all Metro employees, we want to apologize for what we're about to do," Metro CEO Bob Baer told the crowd before the vote. "It's not something we want to do, it is something we must do."

The cuts will only balance the budget for fiscal year 2010, which ends June 30th, 2010. After that, inflation will once again outpace revenue growth, making more cuts possible. Baer says that highlights the need to start work now on a new regional funding transit mechanism.

"And that means aggressively coming together, pursuing a plan that is in place before June 2010," he said. "If that does not happen, we will be right back here making further cuts. That would be criminal."

The cuts take effect in March 2009, though they can be rolled back if funding becomes available. For example, St. Clair County has offered more than one million dollars to restore service on the Shrewsbury line to Fairview Heights.


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