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Friday, May 8, 2009

Legislature Gives Metro $12 Million

The St. Louis Beacon reports that the legislature passed a stimulus bill that contains $12 million for Metro (actually still named the Bi-State Development Agency but doing business as Metro). This is a one-time payment, of course, and short of the $20 million that Metro estimates it needs to restore all service cuts made in March.

Governor Jay Nixon, often silent on state-funded programs that support St. Louis, actually has expressed support for Metro. However, the $12 million request came from Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, not Nixon. If the governor signs the bill, Metro will be able to restore Call-a-Ride and some bus routes -- for one year.

Realistically, the stimulus money is a small stop-gap. What is needed is a regional taxing district. Senator Robin Wright-Jones introduced a bill in this legislative session to allow such a district to be created, but the bill remains on the Senate's informal calender.

No matter what the fate of the stimulus funding or Wright-Jones' bill, Metro has a lot of work to do right now to build a strong case for its support. The longer the agency waits to start building public support, the longer people are stuck without transportation -- and the longer cities that have regional investment in transportation will surpass our ability to attract new residents and jobs. We can't have a hand-to-mouth transit system if St. Louis is going to be a competitive American city.

1 comment:

GMichaud said...

I agree the piecemeal transit system is not working.
I don't know, but it seems at this point that sweeping changes are needed. MoDot could care less about mass transit. East West Gateway, while talented are beholden to the majority of the regional suburban area. In effect ignoring the central core and older suburbs and their potential for efficient transit when compared to the massive urban sprawl in the region.