For many Webster students who can’t commute by car, what would be a 20-minute drive to campus becomes two hours on the Metro.
Despite these issues, District 5 County Council Republican Candidate Jennifer Bird would rather wait for an increase in ridership before spending on Metro improvements.
However, that increase will not happen. Metro usage is low because the system is inconvenient and does not reach enough people. The Journal believes the logical course of action would instead be to invest in transportation and reevaluate its value after the initial problems were addressed.
The Journal supports Democrat candidate and District 5 County Council incumbent Patrick Dolan’s policy for better public transportation. A partner with Citizens for Modern Transit, MetroLink and Trailnet, Dolan has acknowledged his constituents’ concerns over the city’s transportation system, and plans to improve it.
“I know the residents are concerned about (the Metro) and we’d like to see multi-mobile transportation and believe we can continue on with that,” Dolan said.
Residents, especially students, have plenty of reason for concern. The current Metro bus system is inefficient and not accessible enough to students or other dependent demographics.
The free Metro passes Webster’s Business Office offers students are a step in the right direction to making public transportation more accessible. But the next step is offering reasonable transportation opportunities for students to use those passes.
One of the main complications for Webster students is the bus hours.
Prolonged traveling makes studying and class attendance difficult. For commuters or students who rely on public transportation for off-campus jobs and internships, using the Metro often means waking up hours earlier or staying out later into the night than one would if one were driving.
On weekends, when many students want to travel off campus, the station near Sverdrup is closed.
Another inconvenience is the actual travel time. A half-hour drive off campus to the nearest movie theatre is 70 minutes away by Metro. With the issue of safety, one may want to choose a matinee.
Dolan recognizes commuters need to feel safer in their city. A bill he sponsored, Complete Streets, is designed to create safer access for pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and transit passengers.
Apart from time and safety issues, the actual ability to travel is also hindered.
Metrolink and bus limitability makes inter-suburb travel difficult. Many stations are either too far from potential passengers or don’t take a direct enough route to the areas one needs to go.
A good public transportation system is inclusive and creates unity within a city. In many other metropolises, like Chicago, public transportation reaches throughout all suburban and inner city areas.
St. Louis is vast, varied, yet divided. As many areas are extremely diverse by class, the lack of good public transportation to lower-class areas increases segregation and creates stability problems.
The Journal believes a wider route network with better hours would open up many recreational and work opportunities for students and increase infrastructure security.
A long-awaited step forward, Dolan’s investment in public transportation would potentially benefit all Metro users in St. Louis.