Archive for the “Public Transit” Category

Taking active transportation to the next level

Tags: , , ,

Like many local professionals, Adrian Stillman makes frequent trips to other cities in the Midwest. Unlike most business travelers, Adrian makes these visits without getting into a car or walking through an airport. His modes of transportation include his bicycle, Metro bus, MetroLink and Amtrak.

In order to get in better shape and to save money, Adrian sold his car five years ago, bought a used bicycle, and began commuting to his office by bike—a twelve-mile round trip. Never a bicyclist before this, he soon decided to extend his car-free travels beyond St. Louis.

AdrianBusRackAdrian’s most recent trip took him to Milwaukee in early November. Loaded with a change of clothes and his laptop, he left his house at 4:30 a.m., biked a few blocks to catch an express bus to the Brentwood MetroLink station, rolled his bike onto the Metro and arrived at the Amtrak station in plenty of time for his train’s 6:40 a.m. departure. Adrian estimated door-to-door travel time for his trip to Milwaukee at ten hours. A nonstop flight to Milwaukee from St. Louis takes just over an hour. This begs the obvious question: why does he do it?

“I love being able to explore and appreciate the world as I travel,” Adrian said. “Using my bike and transit, I can relax and enjoy the scenery, look at the interesting architecture and hear the music – I can explore the new city in a way that you just can’t in a car.”

Most importantly, Adrian values the way that his travels allow him to “connect with other people by sharing physical and social space with them.”

Adrian541a.m.Trailnet staff member Ginny McDonald accompanied Stillman on the St. Louis leg of his journey and observed Adrian connecting and conversing with everyone from the bus driver, to other early-morning commuters, to the person who sold him his first cup of coffee at the Amtrak station. Other transit commuters shared the value of time spent together rather than being isolated in a car. Two co-workers who knitted during their bus ride described their commute as “much more relaxing than driving and a lot cheaper than therapy.”

Would Stillman recommend this mode of travel to others?

“It’s very empowering to travel like this, especially to new places,” he said. “We are all good at throwing obstacles in front of ourselves that prevent us from doing new things. It is up to us to overcome those obstacles.”

AdrianAmtrakStationOne of the barriers that Adrian encountered on this trip was having to dismantle and box his bike for the train from Chicago to Milwaukee. Amtrak baggage staff helped him with the transfer.

“Those guys were great,” Adrian said. “Any connection is so valuable, even when you have to ask for help and show that you are a little vulnerable. That’s life.”

Adrian also appreciates the importance of Trailnet’s efforts in helping to break down barriers to biking and using transit in our region.

“They are doing some awesome things for our community,” He said. “Don’t keep it a secret – tell a friend!”  

Take the September Challenge!

SYCThe September Challenge is here! Ride your bike to work, walk, or take public transit and log your car-free miles on Shift Your Commute. This free, web-based program automatically calculates calories burned and carbon emissions saved. Every trip makes a difference – for your health, for the environment, and for regional planning. Trailnet uses data generated from Shift Your Commute to plan projects that improve opportunities for active transportation throughout the region. Prizes will be awarded for individuals and teams who log the most car-free miles during the month of September.

Proudly sponsored by:

newbelgium copy

New Directors of Transportation in City and County

Tags: , , , , , , ,

St. Louis news of late has been filled with death, tragedy and crime. We know that’s not the entire story. There is a lot of positive activity happening below the surface of the news cycle. St. Louis has become an entrepreneurial hub. Our region has talented, creative, and energetic people working every day to create a vibrant, active region. Organizations and agencies are collaborating at an increasing rate. Together, we are focusing our collective activities towards the same targeted outcomes – economic inclusion, talent attraction, and increasing transportation options.

We are in a moment of great opportunity with significant changes in City and County staff. County Executive Stenger is working to fill high-level positions in his administration, and the selections he makes will shape the future of the region. Mayor Slay announced this week a new Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Director of Operations. We applaud his decision to promote the next generation to positions of power. They know better than many which assets will bring new residents and businesses to our region.

Both City and County are working to fill vacant Director of Transportation positions. The importance of placing the right people into these positions cannot be overstated, as they will determine how streets are designed throughout the region and who can safely use them. The Directors of Transportation can choose to continue on the current path of car-centric road design or choose to diversify transportation options. They can help make St. Louis a more livable region with a North-South Metrolink line, protected bike lanes the whole family can ride, and pedestrian crossings that accommodate all people regardless of age or ability.

We are counting on our leaders to choose wisely, selecting staff who are innovative, with a collaborative and transparent nature, and are willing to work hand-in-hand with private and public businesses for the betterment of the region. We need a 21st century vision and plan for the St. Louis we want to become, and stand ready to support our leaders and put in the work to take the region to the next level.

As we plan for our future, we should always focus our energies towards principles that ensure community advancement.  We must collaborate, be inclusive, and promote transparency to meet our region’s highest potential. Together, our region can lead in fostering a healthy, active community where walking, biking, and public transit are a part of our daily lives.

–Ralph Pfremmer, Trailnet Executive Director

We pay for the roads, let’s join in how they are planned

When large road projects are built, we get a lot of people asking, “Why was the road built now? Why doesn’t it have sidewalks?” For large transportation projects, the answers can usually be traced back to the Long Range Plan produced by our metropolitan planning organization, East West Gateway Council of Governments. The Long Range Plan sets guiding principles for improving transportation in the region, along with creating a phased list of large-scale projects for the next 30 years. The plans are updated every five years, and the planning process for the next Long Range Plan is going on now.

Talking about transportation priorities in 30 year can seem abstract but the guiding principles in the Long Range Plan are the key to how approximately $40 million gets spent on transportation every year in our region. When your city or county wants to build and improve streets, intersections, sidewalks, and bicycle facilities, they often rely on transportation funds through East West Gateway. The projects are chosen using a scoring system based on the priorities in the Long Range Plan. The highest scoring projects end up in the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), and are funded and built.

East West Gateway is working on a new Long Range Plan, so NOW is the time to speak up about your priorities for the region, and where you would like to see our money spent.  East West Gateway is hosting a free speaker series at the Missouri History Museum that focuses on regional transportation issues with interactive audience polling. Click here for information and the dates for all four events.

The first event on June 18 at 7:00 pm is “Back to the Future: How St. Louis’ Transportation Past Informs our Future.” The speakers will look back at the history of transportation in St. Louis, which was founded before cars, streetcars, and even bicycles, to see what we can learn for the future. The speakers will be followed by a keypad polling session to gather public feedback on priorities.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the history of St. Louis transportation, and make your voice heard about the future of transportation in St. Louis. In 2013, East West Gateway finished a three year, $4.6 million plan, OneSTL, to support sustainability in the region. We need to make sure the common-sense recommendations for sustainable transportation and funding are carried into the Long Range Plan. Trailnet will be at the meeting, advocating for improving and expanding sustainable transportation, including making transit, walking, and bicycling infrastructure a priority for the region.

We will also be focusing on financial sustainability. Every year, as we hear about bridges deteriorating and highways needing to be rebuilt, it is a reminder that our infrastructure does not last forever. We will be asking East West Gateway to help local governments build projects that they can afford to maintain and rebuild, when the time comes. All grant applications should include a financial plan for paying for regular maintenance on roads, along with reconstruction costs when the engineers estimate the road will need to be rebuilt, usually about 40 to 60 years.

By looking forward and anticipating our costs, we can make sure that we are building a resilient transportation system, and that we won’t burden our children with the cost of maintaining and rebuilding a transportation system we built without planning. We do this kind of long-term budgeting everyday in our own lives when we save for retirement, and in our businesses, when we set aside money to fix or replace equipment when needed. Let’s make sure our transportation budget fits the same standards. And if a local government can’t afford to replace a bridge once it can no longer support trucks, we can always look into giving the infrastructure to people walking and bicycling.

boy on bike-OCORBOld Chain of Rocks Bridge – formerly serving motor vehicles

Where do I find MetroTransit fares, schedules, and maps?

“Metro Transit is best known as the operator of the public transportation system for the St. Louis metropolitan region, with MetroLinkMetroBus and Metro Call-A-Ride.  But did you know that Metro Transit also oversees operations of the St. Louis Downtown Airport, the Gateway Arch trams and the Gateway Arch Riverboats?” – Metro Transit St. Louis Website.

For information about fares, schedules and maps, click here.

Metro also has a handy trip planner.

Which car do I get in with my bike on MetroLink trains?

Passengers 13 or older, and children accompanied by an adult, are welcome to bring their bicycle onboard MetroLink. Wait until all other passengers have boarded or exited the train, and enter the train at the rear door of the first train car or the front or rear door of the second train car. Two bicycles are permitted in each area. If a train is too crowded, you may have to wait for the next train before boarding with your bicycle.

While onboard MetroLink, please stand with your bicycle. Do not leave your bicycle unattended or put it on its kickstand. For more information, click here.


How do I load my bike on a MetroBus or MCT Bus rack?

Illinois’ Madison County Transit buses and Missouri and Illinois MetroBuses are equipped with a two-bike rack available on a first-come, first-served basis.

View the following videos for using a Madison County bike rack and a Metro bike rack.

Where do I find Madison County Transit fares, schedules and maps?

“MCT provides the community with numerous public bus routes, a Paratransit service for the disabled and elderly, bikeway development, as well as overseeing RideFinders, the St. Louis regional rideshare program. Working in conjunction with the other St. Louis area organizations, MCT provides an important link in the chain of seamless regional transportation services.” – Madison County Transit Website.

Click on these links for schedules and maps and fare information.