Federal, state funding helps Metro restore some bus service
St. Louis Metro on Monday restored more than half of the bus service the agency slashed last spring, thanks to funding from the state and U.S. governments this past summer.
Metro restored about 55 percent of the bus service cut on March 30, along with Call-a-Ride service around the restored service area. The restored bus service includes seven new routes and changes and additions to others.
The money, amounting to more than $18 million, will fund the restorations until next May.
Metro also altered the bus routes that serve the Danforth Campus. There are some major changes to the Red Line and smaller ones to the Gold Line. The Green Line, which connects campus with areas around the Delmar Loop, remains unchanged. Several bus routes serving Washington University’s other campuses also changed.
“So many routes serve Washington University’s five various campuses though, so any significant change in service is going to impact the University community,” said Jessica Mefford-Miller, Metro’s acting chief of planning and service development.
After getting the money, Metro took input from the public on what routes to restore. Members of the University community gave a great deal of feedback, Mefford-Miller said.
Metro cut 36 percent of its bus and Call-a-Ride services and 32 percent of light-rail service on March 30 due to budget concerns. Late last spring and over the summer, Metro got $12 million from the state government and just over $6 million from the Federal Transit Administration.
A lot of school community members who gave feedback work at or attend the medical school, Mefford-Miller said. Many also live in West County, which lost most of its bus service on March 30, or in North County, which also lost a large amount. Metro restored much of the service those areas lost.
She said school officials did not request any specific changes. The school administration has influenced how Metro has planned some routes in the past.
The federal and Missouri funding for Metro was somewhat unexpected after the agency failed to find funds early this year to stave off its cuts.
The FTA rejected Metro’s initial request for funding in March but then changed its mind in late June.
The state legislature also changed its mind by passing a bill with the $12 million in mid-May. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed the funding provision into law on June 25. Metro initially asked the legislature for $35 million in early March to restore full service, but the General Assembly rejected that and a $20 million funding bill later.
St. Louis County might ask voters in April to consider another Proposition M, a half-cent sales tax that would fund full transit service for the long term. County voters rejected last November’s Proposition M by 3 percent due largely to concerns about the economy and the agency’s past troubles managing its finances.
Mefford-Miller encourages students and staff to go to Metro’s Web site to view updated maps and schedules, even if they regularly use Metro, due to the magnitude of the changes.
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