Mass transit funding seems to be getting quite a bit of attention lately. Locally, Metro restored significant service capacity this past week, Chesterfield Mayor and Armstrong Teasdale attorney John Nations was named Metro's new CEO. With the overwhelming passing of Prop A in April, the transit agency has strong financial support. Nationally, President Obama is proposing $50B in infrastructure funding. While roads garner the majority of this funding, rail and local transit are focal points as well.
Transit has been promoted at a job creator and economic development tool nationally for some time. The Federal government has wholeheartedly endorsed this view and now locally we're beginning to understand the potential impact of a true transit system, a more sustainable, multi-modal street grid and infrastructure.
So what, if anything, does this mean for St. Louis? Metro has a former Republican mayor of Chesterfield as CEO, Federal funding may be increasing soon and the region (and Metro) has recently competed an incredible amount of planning work. I don't have the Federal definition of "shovel ready" in front of me, but the Northside-Southside MetroLink study must be close. As a region, we have political balance, local funding for transit, planning and studies for expansion and the rebuilding of an iconic urban National Park.
If St. Louis can be even remotely as successful as we have been in the past at bringing urban renewal dollars to the region, we could be on the doorstep of major change. Bus Rapid Transit lines, new bus shelters, greenways…, what else? What projects should the region offer in the search for TIGER grants? Could the Arch grounds and surrounding infrastructure become part of the equation?
Moving Transit Forward – The Plan for St. Louis Mass Transit