We Built a Transit-Compatible Place and Removed the Transit

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Transit works best when it delivers you to and takes you from the middle of things instead of the edge of things (for example Metrolink in Clayton missed the mark by not putting the station at Central and Forsyth). The Central West End has been the region’s premiere walkable neighborhood for quite some time and has been getting even more walkable. A goal of development, as stated by Alderman Roddy, has been to create car-optional places. We see that in action on Euclid south of Lindell. That’s why it’s regrettable that there is no longer bus service on that part of Euclid.

I asked about it on Metro’s monthly live chat. The #1 bus used to run down Euclid. The route changed due to all the construction. I figured it would return after the Orion and Citizen Park were done. Apparently not. Ray Friem, Executive Director of Metro Transit said,
at this time, Metro does not plan to return the routing of the #1 Gold to its former routing on Euclid. There is considerable difficulty obtaining space for bus stops, and the narrow streets and heavy traffic make bus operations difficult. Instead, Metro is providing service on Taylor.

I say bunk. Catching a bus on Taylor (which is served by the #18) adds at least a 1000 feet (the length of blocks in St. Louis is a whole other problem!) to reach a bus stop from Euclid. Not a burden a transit agency interested in boosting ridership would place on potential riders. Discouraging bus ridership only worsens traffic. It’s safer to walk to a stop and wait on Euclid where there are more eyes on the street than Taylor. Euclid is just as narrow there as it is north of Lindell where it continues to run. There are many obvious places for bus stops. There are several curb bump-outs that could be used.

A stop for the EB #1 used to be at the Schlafly Library. Bus service to a library is a good thing. The curb is painted yellow already so no street parking spots would be lost. A stop for the WB #1 used to be across the street.

Euclid south of Lindell. The WB #1 could stop here if immediately north of Lindell is a no go.

The WB #1 used to stop in front of what is now the Orion. If that’s too hard it could use Laclede instead of West Pine to reach Euclid from Taylor.

A stop for the EB #1 used to be at West Pine.

There are curb bump-outs mid block between West Pine and Laclede that could be bus stops.

Curb bump-outs could be stops for the WB #1 if coming up Euclid from Forest Park Ave or coming west on Laclede. Or put stops on Forest Park Ave that are shared with the 10 and 95.

How about three sets of bus stops? Why do we make this so hard?

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  • neroden

    There’s a deliberate effort to sabotage transit service in St. Louis, and apparently it has control of the transit agency. Totally bizarre.

  • DS1981

    Why is a neighborhood/city becoming wealthier than it used to be such a painful, controversial thing in this country. In europe there are cities that only the very wealthy can afford (Monte Carlo, etc) and nobody screams about horrible rich people of Monaco, it’s just understood that those places are for the rich. And that’s with france being in general a much more left wing country than america. Weird.

    • Nick

      The issue lies with the displacement of low income residents. Monaco didn’t recently transform
      from a slum into a paradise….it’s been inhabited by the rich for generations. To your point, however, I do believe the issue is overblown in St. Louis. The anti-gentrification crowd seems to think everywhere is Brooklyn such that the newly-displaced can’t afford anything for miles around once they’re evicted. We have so much affordable housing in StL it’s just not much of an issue.

      • Imran

        Good point about vacancy in St Louis. Lots of areas that the displaced folks can go to. The problem with clustering wealth and segregating by economic status however is the disparity and imbalance of resources it creates. Even super wealthy neighborhoods are at risk of imploding if the wealthy get enticed away to another shiny community ( many vacant neighborhoods of today were high-flying communities of the last century) .
        As in investments I feel the only sound long term strategy is diversity. Try to create space in every neighborhood for all income levels to live and match it with an equally diverse range of businesses.

  • The question we should really be asking is, how much longer should we allow private cars on Euclid? It’s insanely congested. If we banish then entirely, or even just do a Barcelona style super block arrangement, we’d have room for buses and it would be much safer for peds and cyclists.

    • Imran

      Traffic congestion is good for business, traffic calming and pedestrian safety. More eyes on the street especially in the colder months when there are fewer people ambling about.
      A complete street finds a balance between all forms of transport without banning any one. (Cities like Barcelona where millions of tourists flood the public space are a different beast)

      • ^ Every sentence here is wrong.

        • Imran

          Such an insightful response. How do you do it?

    • Nick

      I don’t think this idea would work very well. First, Euclid is not nearly congested enough to justify turning it into a strictly pedestrian street like some European counterpart. I drive and walk down it all the time and it’s not really an issue either way. Second, you’d lose dozens if not hundreds of parking spaces (depending on which areas you’d block off) in an already parking-scarce area, and seeing as how StL is pretty auto-centric, this could be damaging to businesses in the area.

  • Samuel Brittingham

    god forbid someone walk 1/5 of mile to catch their bus

    • STLEnginerd

      That misses the point. The point was put transit where it gets the most riders. Like it or not 1/5 of a mile IS a significant deterrent to transit optional persons.

      I tend waffle on this. The neighborhood is urban yes and compact yes, but there are so many zig and zags required to accommodate the many closed streets i question whether it is “built for transit”. I tend to like the idea of BRT on the east side of Kingshighway with dedicated ROW for buses and emergency vehicles with smaller feeder lines to the various neighborhoods. Of course the CWE metrolink station is on the wrong side of the hospital to make good connections to such a line…

    • kjohnson04

      That same logic could be applied to car drivers. God forbid we provide enough parking to place several buildings on to convenience people who could have walked, biked, or ridden the bus.

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  • Narrow streets? Taylor is the exact same width as Euclid Ave. So if Euclid is too narrow for buses, then so is Taylor, and so is Sarah.

    Also, isn’t this the exact same reason given for moving the #2 Red from DeMun to Skinker?

    • rgbose

      The reason given was that it was having trouble turning from De Mun to Rosebury

      • kjohnson04

        I suspect somebody caved to pressure from some NIMBYs. That’s what usually causes nonsensical bus stop changes here.

    • neroden

      Yeah, that “reason” is what is formally referred to as a “lie”. They’re lying.

  • Tara

    Does the City of St. Louis use Remix? If not, they should, and we could run these experiments all day.

    • Adam

      Tara, completely off topic but does Numina still have a presence in St. Louis or has the company permanently (and unfortunately) relocated to NYC?

      • Tara

        We are HQ’d in STL and plan to have ~5 employees there by the end of the year.

        • Adam

          That’s great! Thanks for the response. (P.S. I think your company is really cool.)

          • Tara

            Thanks, Adam!

    • BrettGilpin

      What’s this Remix thing?

      • Luke Babich

        It’s a (really neat) tool for planning public transit projects. The idea was to let planners test out different scenarios and iterate on their design, before committing full tilt to an expensive infrastructure project.

        Check it out — https://www.remix.com/

        • Tara

          Over 200 transit authorities worldwide use Remix, too. Basically, you can plan routes (and re-routes), which would normally take days, in seconds.

          • Does Remix pull in data on the street level about car traffic and stop lights? From what I understand, it draws on the kind of data you’d find in ArcGIS (census, ACS, etc.) to pull in demographics, coupled with general models to estimate your costs and efficiency with different stop locations / route combinations / bus frequencies.

            But it would be brilliant if it could be used to model something like the idea in this Strong Towns presentation: https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2017/5/25/a-radically-new-vision-for-transportation-in-america

            He made the contentious argument that removing most of the traffic signals in downtown Kansas City and dropping the speed limit to 15 mph would actually result in about the same traffic throughput, but with lower accidents and fatalities (based on this research: https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/pub/Image10.gif)

            I’m familiar with the company (which looks awesome) but have never actually used the platform, not sure what it can and can’t do.

          • Corporate Shill

            Remix is awesome! I wasn’t paid to say this!

  • tpekren

    Forget about Bus #1, I can’t help but think Delmar & Euclid would make a great modern low flow street car route running from Delmar metrolink station (utilizing some of the loop trolley infrastructure) to Euclid/Barnes Jewish metrolink stop. You could look at a future extension on Euclid to a streetcar only bridge across freeway into FPSE/Grove

    • tpekren

      Meant modern low floor street car. Think KC

  • David Hoffman

    I agree. Taylor is becoming so bogged down with traffic. Cars line up and sometimes wait through several light cycles at Taylor and W. Pine.

    • Imran

      Perhaps the signal should be replaced by 4 way stop signs.

      • kjohnson04

        Ordinarily, I’d say that would be a great idea, but that might be tricky for cyclists and pedestrians. Drivers here pay little mind to stop signs as is.

  • Brian Johnson

    AMEN! Totally agree. Wait until BJC kicks the train station out and they move it 1000 feet east.

    • jhoff1257

      That’s not happening. Metro already has money in place to do a makeover of the current station in conjunction with the construction of the Cortex station. Besides, the CWE bus transfer center wouldn’t be able to move. No matter what BJC wants, you’d be hard pressed to get EWG and Metro to agree to move that station. Wouldn’t waste your time worrying about that.

      And did you mean west? 1,000 feet east puts it much closer to the new Cortex station. There were rumors many, many years ago about putting the CWE station closer to Kingshighway but those never went anywhere.

      • jhoff1257

        Added a photo with 1,100 feet measured east from the east end of the current platform. Future Cortex station is the white circle. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eac4d3df36c8e31a901923fe153ffc36981f2a893b7b6850417bf9b0e221e786.jpg

        • Brian Johnson

          I think the rumor I am responding to is that the CWE station would close when the Cortex station opened. So I am glad to hear this is debunked. That came from bus drivers. 🙂

          • jhoff1257

            That’s not a rumor I’ve heard. I’ve heard the one about BJC wanting to move it further west and closer to Kingshighway. That’s not happening. I’d check with your bus driver sources and see they mean temporally closing CWE after Cortex opens so they can rebuild it. I’m almost positive the grant awarded for Cortex also includes money for a rebuilt CWE station. That makes more sense considering CWE is the system’s busiest and WashU, including WashU Med, are the largest users of the system. Closing it permanently just seems laughable. I would imagine BJC/WUMed would fight something like that.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Correct. It seems the plan to move the CWE station east to Kingshighway is dead – though has been explored more than once. Zero chance it closes. A revamp is on the way, but I haven’t seen what changes are coming.

  • Hear hear!

  • Chris Orlet

    I would challenge your statement about CWE being the most walkable community. Tower Grove South is more walkable because there is much less traffic, it is mostly local people doing the walking and you dont have to be a millionaire to live here.

    • rgbose

      I said premiere, not most.

      • Alex Ihnen

        There are plenty of “walkable” STL neighborhoods, but clearly the CWE is at the top of list due to density and amenities.

    • matt

      I actually disagree. Walking to the S Grand Schnucks, or the walgreens on gravios are all really bad experiences and feels unsafe. Which means I don’t walk there. If we can clean up Chippewa/Gravios/Grand streets, making them safer and easier to cross I could see TGS being siginifcantly more walkable.

      CWE still has the advantage of amenities being “Inside” the neighborhood and not on the edges like TGS

      • Justin Striebel

        Yep, I agree with this. Be it worries about crime (especially at darker hours) or the major amenities being on the far edges, TGS is sadly not as walkable as it could be. Pretty easy to go to a bar or restaurant from most parts of the neighborhood (though that dark hours crime is still a real deterrent), but getting to either nearby Schnucks (S Grand or Arsenal) or any of the near Walgreens (Gravois and Grand, Arsenal and Kingshighway, or Chippewa and Kingshighway) are no picnics.

        Even a nearby amenity like Home Depot (I love Oak Hill hardware, but it keeps daytime business hours, and I usually need evenings) which is physically quite close to my house is a pain to get through due to the way we’ve allowed that site to be built and the way our infrastructure is set up.

        CWE is walkable like a big city urban environment. TGS is a nice walkable neighborhood, and I hope we’ll keep going that direction, but I don’t think it compares to the CWE in this regard right now.

  • Dahmen Piotraschke

    its obvious why the #1 Euclid bus was eliminated..and that is money. The CWE..is an urban hotspot for locals with money , who live nearby..or frequent the restaurants and shops …after getting there by an automobile, plus those gaslight streets are filled with pedestrians..The bus is big and it is a tight squeeze going down Euclid, I have ridden the #1 alot. However, not only the residents and visitors, and even our new governor Greitens…live there. The sight of a bus squeezing thru is tacky and cumbersome, as well burdensome. Plus, they all believe the bus magically brings in the lower class who would maybe enjoy a day at the CWE..!! All in all it is class warfare.

    • jhoff1257

      You lost me with class warfare. I understand the comments about a tight squeeze, lots of traffic and pedestrians, but class warfare? If the CWE and it’s residents and visitors are trying to keep “lower class” people out by shutting off bus service then they’re doing a pretty bad job of it. I think the #1 could safely be returned back to Euclid even with all the activity, but I don’t think the reluctance to do that has much to do with poor people. The CWE is pretty well covered by bus and train service.

      Also, I wouldn’t expect Greitens to be spending too much time in St. Louis anymore. His wife teaches at Mizzou and during his term he lives in the Governor’s Mansion in Jeff City. He also just bought a new house in Innsbrook out past Wentzville so he doesn’t have to go so far from the Capital.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6ba704af45887021f48dba4fd365be4a46ab01c02ebf860766cf8e6c233da64a.jpg

    • Bobby Gissendanner

      The same class warfare planning ended bus service east of Tucker and away from the growing downtown resident population.

    • A lot of people forget that the CWE has plenty of section 8 housing, halfway houses and social service agencies. There’s actually a lot of income diversity in the CWE. As a business owner on Cherokee Street, I hear a lot of people diss the CWE as if it’s Chesterfield or something. It’s the same mentality that people used against Lyda Krewson during the mayoral campaign, like it’s a bad thing that the ward she represented is one of what, 3? that actually increased its population over the last decade in our severely depopulated urban core. It drives me crazy. Whether you live in Tower Grove or Shaw or on Cherokee, you should be glad you share a city with the CWE. We are in competition against other cities and our amazingly varied neighborhoods, (CWE included) are what make St. Louis the cool city it is. The Central West End adds value to Tower Grove, and vice versa. We all have our favorite neighborhoods, but isn’t it great that we have so many to choose from? After all, variety is what makes a city a city. Sorry, that really had nothing to do with the topic being discussed, but I felt it had to be said!

      • STLrainbow

        gasm, I don’t necessarily disagree with your points about the CWE, but we also have to be aware that gentrification indeed is going on there at a rapid pace and large numbers of the black population have been leaving. It would be better if CWE, FPSE, etc, gained from all races like in some other nabes in the Central Corridor like Midtown, Downtown West and Downtown…or at least had much less loss of black population. (btw there were 15 city neighborhoods that grew last decade.)

        Not sure what the answer is — perhaps requiring an affordable housing component of any subsidized project like what Detroit now requires would be helpful — but it is important to recognize that the significant neighborhood change occurring in places like the CWE and FPSE isn’t entirely benign.

        • studs

          >>CWE, but we also have to be aware that gentrification indeed is going on there at a rapid pace<<

          Not to split hairs, but I personally do not think that what is occurring in the CWE is gentrification, strictly speaking. To me, gentrification exists when an economically inflated environment is imposed on a formerly/originally low-income or working class neighborhood. The CWE, as epitomized by its premier private streets, was built originally as a largely upscale area inspired by its proximity to Forest Park. If it is being restored to same and enhanced with high end construction and renovation, that is consistent with the historic character of the area. I also believe that the notion of gentrification is generally overblown in the City of St. Louis. I see tons of affordable housing in almost every neighborhood.