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Crime, Cheap Gas, Declining Population: A Cocktail for Decreased Transit Ridership

St. Louis transit planners are evaluating the reasons behind a decline in transit use as the Metro Transit system prepares its first light expansion in years.
December 6, 2018, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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St. Louis Light Rail
Saint Louis Missouri Metro

"Ridership on [St. Louis] MetroLink and buses has plunged by more than 20 percent over the last five years, a dip that comes as the light-rail system slowly moves toward its first expansion in more than a decade," reports Leah Thorsen.

"That decrease is split pretty evenly between the light-rail and bus systems, which riders often transfer between on a trip," adds Thorsen.

The context for this discussion is a plan to build a new north-south line in the Metro Transit system. "As those plans move forward, Metro has been assessing why ridership has fallen on existing routes and how to reverse the trend," according to Thorsen.

While the city's declining population and the cost of gas is briefly mentioned, the main focus of Thorsen's reporting is on crime. Security concerns are great enough that it's caused a political struggle between the County Council and Metro Transit. "The St. Louis County Council this fall held back $5 million from Metro for security funding until it can be convinced that concerns about rider safety have been addressed, and that police and Metro are working together," according to Thorsen.

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Published on Monday, December 3, 2018 in St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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