Metro customers will begin to see increased transit service in June, according to a restoration plan transit agency officials made public last week.
After roughly 63 percent of county voters approved a half-cent transit sales tax increase on April 6 — Proposition A — Metro officials have developed a three-phase approach to add and improve transit service throughout the St. Louis region this year.
Prop A is expected to generate at least $75 million a year for Metro and will provide the necessary revenue to further restore the 30 percent of MetroLink light-rail, MetroBus and Call-A-Ride van service the agency cut in March 2009 to alleviate financial problems.
The measure also triggered a quarter-cent sales tax in St. Louis city, which is expected to bring in an additional $8 million annually.
About half of the service eliminated in March 2009 was restored in August with the help of $12 million in one-time stimulus funds and a two-year, $7.4 million federal grant.
That money — and the initial restoration plan — would’ve dried up next month if Prop A failed April 6, officials said.
Under the new restoration plan unveiled last Friday, the transit network will not look the same as it did before the March 2009 cuts as Metro officials say they’ve discovered how to make the system more productive and efficient through redesigned routes and frequency.
The first phase, which would begin June 28, addresses demand. MetroLink light-rail peak-hour frequency would increase from every 15 minutes to every 12 minutes on both the red and blue lines.
Peak-hour frequency would be limited to a three-hour period in the morning and evening peaks.
Frequency could improve to the pre-March 2009 level of every 10 minutes once the Eads Bridge near downtown St. Louis is reconstructed.
MetroBus service would be added or enhanced during peak hours for the region’s busiest routes.
Bus routes that would serve south county beginning June 28 include:
6 River City would be a new route that operates between the Shrewsbury MetroLink station and the River City Casino in Lemay.
49 Lindbergh would be split into a north route and a south route. The new, 48 South Lindbergh would operate between the Ballas Transit Center and Jefferson Barracks Veterans Affairs Hospital.
As for Call-A-Ride paratransit van service, officials are considering increasing the service boundary to 1.5 miles from a fixed, non-express transit route from the current Americans With Disabilities Act minimum boundary of 3/4 of a mile.
The second and third phases of Metro’s restoration plan, which would begin Sept. 6 and Nov. 29, address transit needs by geography. Bus service would continue to increase in St. Louis city as well as further out into the county.
In south county, the 210 Fenton-Gravois bus would be rerouted Sept. 6 to operate between the Shrewsbury MetroLink station and Interstate 270 at Gravois Road through Gravois and Mackenzie roads.
Besides making cuts to transit service, the Metro Board of Commissioners voted in December 2008 to approve a schedule of rider fare increases. On Jan. 1, 2009, one-way MetroLink fares increased to $2.25 from $2, and one-way MetroBus fares increased to $2 from $1.75.
A 25-cent jump for both fares is scheduled for July 1, but officials said Friday they haven’t decided if there will be an increase as changes in fares are part of the annual budget process.
Metro will need to hire about 120 people — operators, mechanics and supervisors — this year and eventually acquire 25 to 50 buses to fully implement its restoration plan, officials said.
The agency also wants to hear from the public on its plan and has scheduled five community-engagement sessions throughout the region.
South county residents can offer their input to Metro from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, at Mehlville Senior High School, 3200 Lemay Ferry Road.
The public also can comment by phone at (314) 982-1400, Ext. 3433; e-mail at email@example.com; or by writing to: Maureen Williams, Metro Planning and System Development — Restoration 2010 Proposal, 707 N. First St., Mail Stop 144, St. Louis, MO 63102-2595.
Comments must be received by Monday, May 10.