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Metro Finalizes Plan To Overhaul Bus Service In Missouri; Rollout In September

The 70 Grand bus stops near St. Louis University in December 2018.
File Photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio
The 70 Grand bus stops near St. Louis University in December 2018.

From the announcement of MetroBus service shifts coming this fall, to record-setting MetroLink ridership the day of the St. Louis Blues parade last month, to security challenges, the past year and a half has proved to be a pivotal time for Metro Transit

On Thursday, Metro Transit announced its final plans to overhaul its Missouri-side bus services in the St. Louis region. The plan, based on rider feedback and several years of studies, underwent multiple revisions in 2018. The changes will begin taking effect Sept. 30.

The developments have daily implications for area residents who depend on public transportation.

During an interview for St. Louis on the Air, Metro Transit Executive Director Jessica Mefford-Miller joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin to detail the latest changes to bus service in the region under the Metro Reimagined overhaul.

Jessica Mefford-Miller is the executive director of Metro Transit.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Jessica Mefford-Miller is the executive director of Metro Transit.

Metro already began removing or relocating 370 bus stops as part of its quarterly efforts to update its services. After getting feedback from riders in recent days, Mefford-Miller said, Metro decided to keep 80 of the 450 initially slated for removal.

Metro Reimagined’s rollout in September will bring even more changes.

The final plan implements 10 routes offering service at least every 15 minutes and 35 routes with buses every 30 minutes.

“These [10] routes on a daily basis carry more than half of our MetroBus customers here in Missouri … so that’s going to have a big impact,” Mefford-Miller said.

The plan also establishes six routes that provide limited service in low-ridership areas during popular travel times, like during commuter hours. Metro has also revised its express routes to offer six lines that travel to popular destinations while making limited stops.

“It’s a delicate balance ... because we are on the one hand tasked with connecting people with places – that’s our mission,” Mefford-Miller said about the thinking behind the shift in service. “And at the same time, we have to operate the system within the financial means that the region provides.”

Some existing routes will be discontinued due to low ridership or replaced with a new line. Replacement routes will not necessarily cover all the same areas with their new schedules, so Metro urges riders to research their new route before taking the bus.

Discontinued routes

  • #14 Botanical
  • #66 Clayton–Airport
  • #68 Big Bend
  • #72 Monarch
  • #80 Park-Shaw
  • #110 Affton

Replaced routes

  • #8 Bates-Morganford
  • #17 Oakville
  • #20 South Broadway
  • #37 Hanley–Graham
  • #38 Hazelwood
  • #39 Berkeley–Florissant
  • #48 South Lindbergh
  • #58 Clayton–West County
  • #71 Parker
  • #76 Waterford
  • #77 McDonnell-Lindbergh
  • #78 Larimore
  • #96 Market Street Shuttle
  • #99 Downtown Trolley
  • #210 Fenton–Gravois Bluffs
  • #258 Clayton–Chesterfield
  • #40X I-55 Express
  • #174 North Express

What to do if Metro has discontinued your route or stop

Metro first recommends connecting with one of their transit experts, who can be reached by phone at 314-231-2345, by text at 314-207-9786, by email at transitinformation@metrostlouis.orgor online through the red chat icon on Metro’s website.

The Citizens for Modern Transit is also offering a Try and Ride program to all riders who have lost their primary bus stop or route with the changes. The program offers one free month of transit tickets, so that riders can learn their new route.

Metro’s Call-A-Ride paratransit service also offers reservation-based bus service to people with disabilities. People who have lost fixed-route service may be eligible to use Call-A-Ride instead.

Metro’s official app, Transit, has also added an optional service route map that shows Metro Reimagined. For instructions on how to view that map, visit Metro’s website. You can also take a look at an interactive map created by Metro.

Solutions that don’t involve buses

Mefford-Miller added that Metro is working to come up with solutions for people who depend upon soon-to-be-eliminated route segments — solutions that don’t require a 40-foot bus.

“What we are doing, in some places, is proposing a different service type – so shuttle service that might just run on shift times, a little less frequent, but be geared to specific destinations – that’s one of the options,” Mefford-Miller said. “We have six what we’re calling community mobility routes included in that Metro Reimagined plan. We also have six express routes that are really just running Monday through Friday, morning and afternoon rush hour.

“And we’re working to develop a set of what we call first-mile-last-mile connection options that wouldn’t be a regularly scheduled route running on a typical path that can be more responsive to customers. So stay tuned for more on what those mobility solutions are going to look like in later 2020 and early 2021.”

The conversation also touched on Metro’s recent announcement of the removal of several hundred bus stops, a change the agency says is aimed at making buses more efficient and improving on-time service

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Kae Petrin covers public transportation and housing as a digital reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.