Encouraging More People to Take Buses – What Can We Do?

Transit in St. Louis is a multi-modal affair: we have both buses and light rail to move citizens around the region.  We do know, however, that some people use light rail and are very supportive of transit in general, but do not take buses.  Some people cite a lack of knowledge about the routes, purchase fare, or even how to signal a stop.  But transit works as a system, with bus and rail working together to transport people throughout the region.

Many of the contributors and readers of NextStop are fans and users of the bus system, and we want to tap into your perspective as riders. How would you encourage more people to try and use MetroBus? We want you to fill out the survey and we value your feedback. New ideas are also welcome as NextStop will continue to highlight efforts to expand public transit use in St. Louis.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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33 Responses to “Encouraging More People to Take Buses – What Can We Do?”

  1. Julie
    February 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Well, I know what doesn’t help, having bus drivers (such as 33) not let you board the bus when they arrive and make you wait in the cold for 10-20 minutes while they sit and enjoy the warm air. Also, people hate waiting 20 minutes for trains…the last thing they want to do is wait 40 minutes for a bus. Not to mention, the buses are ALWAYS late. On 33, this one bus driver does nothing at all for 10 or so minutes then when it is time to leave instead of leaving he decides to get on his cellphone or go to the bathroom rather than do it in all the time he had beforehand. Because of that behavior the bus is always behind.

    Another reason people don’t take the bus is the fact that the buses arrive literally right after the train they need depart. Whoever made the schedules was not using their head. Its no fun standing in cold weather for 20 minutes because someone had the dumb idea to run it every 20 minutes rather than 12.

    Right now, the buses and trains run so infrequently that those who have the means have no point in taking the bus, especially with this bad weather and limited to no shelter whatsoever.

    Basically, because Metro does not look out for its customers, people have the means have no reason to ever use the buses because that would be putting yourself through unnecessary troubles.

    And besides many people on the bus smell of cigarettes and some eat their smelly food on the bus too (the bus drivers don’t care to enforce the rules) and some buses are so crowded that there is no space to breath.

    Bus riding is not practical for car owners.

  2. robert
    February 7, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    sorry to burst your bubble Courtney but there is nothing metro to encourage people use metro for one of four reasons

    1. they have no drivers license
    2. they have a suspended license
    3. their car is in the repair shop
    4. they can’t afford a car and all that goes with having a car(i.e car insurance)

    I doubt anyone rides metro because they really want to. we live in a world of convenience that’s why McDonald’s is so successful. i guess if all buses ran every 5 minutes the whole convenience thing wouldn’t matter but obviously that’s not gonna happen. More and more routes are set up to run every 40 minutes on weekdays and 60 minutes on weekends

    despite the efforts of metro there are areas with no bus stops so people can’t use the bus even if they wanted to

    the 3rd reason for my skeptical view point is do a lot enjoy riding with up to 60 strangers, who at times, get real loud and rowdy some people might not mind it but others probably be alone or with just 1 or 2 other people

  3. Ron Walker
    February 8, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    None

  4. Joe
    February 8, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    I’m a fan of using transit but it takes way too long. This survey implies that it is perception that is the issue, but when it takes 25 minutes to drive somewhere and over an hour on metro it doesn’t make sense to take metro. It is understood that public transit won’t be as fast as driving, but for many potential riders metro is not feasible as an alternative to their cars. The multi-modal affair can include those who are willing to drive a short distance to take transit too.

  5. February 8, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    You know, Julie, I had a similar experience re: the bus arriving every day right as the train was leaving, so I complained to our service planners. They explained to me that, for the station I was using to connect to the MetroLink, the buses are timed to the Westbound trains since that’s the direction most people using that station would travel that time of day. For me, an Eastbound passenger, it was hair-raisingly annoying to _just_ miss the train every day but it turns out that’s exactly how it was supposed to happen. The buses were arriving with enough time for people to disembark & get to the platform before the Westbound train would arrive. And I can see, now that I’m paying attention, that the majority of people getting off the bus the same time I do are getting onto that Westbound train; while a handful of us Eastbound passengers get off the bus grumbling because we can see our train leaving the station as our bus is about to pull in.

    Now that I understand it, it makes the wait far less annoying (though still cold!).

  6. February 8, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Joe & Robert, I’ve had your experience as well re: frequency and length of ride. When I first moved to South City, I was getting on the 8 Bates, which stops right in front of my house but takes an hour to get downtown in the morning! If I drive it takes about fifteen minutes. That didn’t seem very practical to me. When I mentioned it to a planner, they said that the 8 Bates is what they consider a “neighborhood circulator” route – a route designed to get people around w/in a certain area, with a connection at a transfer center to move on to a different area. What I wanted to get to & from work was a commuter route. They directed me to take the 70 Grand or the 40X instead. The 40X takes me ten minutes to get to the Civic Center station, and another ten to ride MetroLink/walk to the office. That’s a MUCH more viable option, but because of the times I put into the Google Trip Planner, it wasn’t recommended to me by the software. Five minute difference with all the savings on gas/car wear & tear is totally worth it.

    It’s definitely taking me some time to feel like I’m comfortable enough with the routes/service options to vary my routine much. To me that’s the big problem – it’s hard, without knowing all the routes & connection points, to figure out the best way for each of my trips. I highly recommend calling Customer Service and talking it over with them, because nobody knows the system like they do (besides the service planners). You may be surprised to find that you have options you weren’t aware of. And even if I just take the bus on the days when I know I’m just going to/coming home, that’s so many less days I have to drive.

  7. Nick
    February 8, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    The biggest hurdle in getting more riders on Metrobus is increasing the service frequency. That would eliminate a lot of the other difficulties that previous commenters have mentioned. Late buses and missed connections are far less bothersome on a route with 10 minute frequencies than a route with 30, 40, or 60 minute frequencies. It all boils down to time and uncertainty. People standing at a bus stop have no way of knowing where the bus is and if it is really coming. Is it late? Did I already miss it? It doesn’t matter as much if I am fairly certain that there is another bus coming in 10 minutes anyways, but it is a real concern if the next bus won’t show up for an hour. Adding a way for those with mobile internet access to determine where their bus is would help alleviate some of the uncertainty associated with bus riding, but greater frequencies would help more.

  8. RTBones
    February 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Where to start. There are lots of things Metro COULD do, but likely wont. Part of the reason for this is that Metro’s primary mission is NOT transit – it is economic development.

    But for starters, Metro could try running a transit system, not a commuter system. Schedules and timetables are geared for the average worker during the week, not service outside of work times. While there is service on off-hours, it is limited. Metro and its buses are geared for the lowest common denominator of traveler – those that must use it. There is absolutely nothing being done to attract those that could CHOOSE to use it. Buses go, primarily, where lower income riders are – forget trying to get around in the county (or, for that matter, the 270 loop) by bus. While it is not a bad thing that the bus serves lower income areas, if that is the ONLY place buses go, people that have the ability to choose will go elsewhere. The bus system also takes TIME (and has some really whacky connections – another thing that puts off potential riders) – and for those who could choose to take Metro, time is money. When you have time (say, like going to a sporting event), its fine because you know the bus will take you there and you know the bus will take you back (in other words, it will actually meet a schedule) – but when you have to be somewhere (like work, or to pick up children, a doctor’s appointment, whatever) taking the bus is difficult, particularly when they are late. Most of the buses I have ridden (full disclosure: I have a monthly pass and use it regularly) are chronically late by 4 to 12 minutes. Again, time is money – and if I am going to be chronically late because of Metro, I’ll find another way to get there. This means making connections is difficult (like, getting off a train and watching your bus leave when the next one isnt for another half hour), and in the winter – who wants to wait that half hour outside in the cold for the next bus? In several instances this past month – I have also seen buses going WAY over the speed limit at times. Why? Their drivers were about to be off, and they wanted to finish their run and get back to the garage. Additionally, particularly at the North Hanley station, I have seen buses purposefully put up their “Out of Service” sign just so the driver doesn’t have to let folks on before his/her time – regardless of the number of riders waiting or the temperature outside. The buses also do not run late enough. Again – schedules are based around the commuter, not someone who wants to take public transit. Most nightlife in the St. Louis area shuts down between 1:30am and 3:00am. Don’t even think about getting a “night bus” because there aren’t any – I realize there may be financial reasons (among others) for this, but it goes back to catering to commuters who have to use the system, and not riders that might choose to. There is little to no advertising in the media, and what advertising there is seems to be geared towards the 99 downtown “trolley”. Buses tend to run when and where it is “convenient” for Metro to run them, not necessarily where folks (those that can choose, that is) need or want to go. At times, it is actually easier to take Amtrak from Kirkwood into downtown at night than it is to catch a bus – either because of lack of service, or because I would need to make two connections or better. Then you have all the time and effort spent in promoting a “trolley” which is NOT a trolley. It makes St. Louis look like it isn’t interested in “real” transit. I realize it is intended to be a “branded” service, but as someone not from here originally, sorry – all you’ve done is encourage me NOT to ride it. Its a downtown BUS, not a downtown “trolley.” I have ranted here before about inadequate signage, so I’ll just say that our bus stop signs are out of date and horrid. If you don’t do your research ahead of time, you’d never be able to ride the bus in St. Louis because the signs that do exist nine times out of 10 are wrong because they are years out of date. Along the same lines, have you seen where some of the bus stops are? On the shoulder of busy roads, or places where there is little to no pedestrian access. Particularly in bad weather, how exactly am I supposed to safely get to a bus stop when I have several YARDS of deep snow and ice to traipse through? In many cases, there isn’t sidewalk there to begin with. There is the chronic problem of continually being hit up for money for bus/train fare. If it were every now and again, it would be one thing – but it isn’t. That doesn’t sit well with potential riders that could choose to ride. Finally, there is the general disorganization of some of Metro’s stations (particularly Civic Center and Central West End). Unless you know where you’re going, forget trying to figure out which bus is going to the loop in front of the Sheraton or going to stop at the shelters just north.

    Wow, that’s quite the rant. Didn’t intend it, but you did ask.

  9. RTBones
    February 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Since I was in rant mode, I’ll add a little more to the pile… :)

    If you want people to take the bus, make it convenient for somebody to actually USE the bus outside of commuter hours. Then there is the Ballas transfer station. The only people that are going to get there are folks that DRIVE to it (and perhaps the occasional bicyclist). How about putting transfer stations in places people can WALK to? Going back to the commuter system versus a transit system, frequency is a huge problem (a previous poster mentioned it as well). Its one thing to wait 10 minutes for a bus, its another to have to wait 30 minutes, knowing you still have at least one connection to make. For people who can afford to CHOOSE transit, time is money, and after the first time they get “burned” by a late bus or missed connection that costs them 30 minutes or more, they’ll rarely ride again.

    Talking of various stations, Maplewood is another, particularly where the 32/57 change is concerned. Unless you’ve ridden the 32 regularly, it can be fairly confusing when the bus pulls out and turns RIGHT. That isn’t documented anywhere very well that I have found. Additionally, bus connection times at Maplewood seem…well, quite long.

  10. Stephanie
    February 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    In response to Robert and other car over metro proponents:
    I have a driver’s license, own a car that works perfectly, but I ride my bike or ride Metro every day. I actually ride the Metro because I want to!

    Although it may be more inconvenient at times and there definitely needs to be a lot of improvements for car-loving St. Louis folks to start using it, I think our own perceptions need to change. Riding public transit is one of the most vital components to living in a city and improving that city. Public transit needs to be used by everyone, not just drunk Cardinals fans, BJC employees, and the lower-income community that needs public transit in order to go to work and do everyday things. Without our support, it won’t improve or even be sustained.

    I think the experience of riding Metro (or walking or riding a bike) is far more fulfilling than sitting in a metal box in the middle of the road, where you are cut off from your environment and don’t interact with anyone but the radio. Or you do interact with people, but because you’ve got the car as a shield, you somehow are now able to behave differently – for example, road rage, and angry drivers who yell obscenities at cyclists, but would never have the guts to do it if they were walking. Basically every time I take public transportation I end up having an interesting conversation with a stranger. Driving a car can also be a waste of time, since that time could rather be used reading a book on the bus or striking a conversation with someone else waiting for the bus.

    Although I have suggestions to improve the bus system, and improvements definitely need to be made (which I sent in the survey), I also think more people should be accepting to use Metro as is until changes are made.

  11. RTBones
    February 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    I, too, have the ability to choose. Half of the time, I choose Metro. The other half, I don’t.

    You’ll notice I hammered away at Metro in my posts above. I still ride it. I rant and rave because I care about the city and the transport system we have. The system is not perfect, there is an array of changes that could be made to make it better, and I do get upset at Metro and their apparent acceptance of “status quo” at times – or their perceived spending priorities, or Metro’s general way of thinking towards transit. But I still ride it. Courtney, Jennifer, and countless others at Metro work tirelessly to give us, the riding public, a viable option other than driving.

    Those of us who read blogs like this, typically, are atypical. We use the transit system, flaws and all. But I know there are entire discussions that go on over on Twitter and Facebook that I will never see because I don’t use either medium. I am certain there are people out there that don’t use FB, Twitter, or this blog. If Metro really wants to reach out to potential new bus riders, they may have to start advertising (more) in traditional media as well – newspaper, TV, and radio. (I cringe a little as I write this, because I absolutely do NOT like AT ALL the 99 – I really do not – and that features in a couple of different radio spots I’ve heard.)

  12. February 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    I totally agree, Nick, that more frequency means any schedule goofs/lateness are much easier to deal with. Not fun when you miss a bus that only comes once an hour!

    So RT, re: the 99 Trolley, I’m getting the impression that you wouldn’t ride it with a fox, or in a box, in the rain, or to connect to a train…am I right? ;)

  13. RTBones
    February 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    I will not ride it with a fox
    I will not ride it in a box
    I will not ride it in the rain
    To work, to home, or catch a train
    I’ll rant and rave and stamp and cuss
    But will not ride that 99 BUS!! :)

  14. Phil
    February 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    I ride the bus or my bike as often as I can. But the snow and ice cover at my local bus stops, at home and work, poses a serious hazard. A couple of weeks ago I could easily have been the fatality that occurred at Forest Park and De Baliviere. I stepped off the bus at Lindell and Vandeventer and suddenly found myself looking directly up at blue sky and clouds. Had a boarding passenger not pulled me up I could easily have slid under as the bus was leaving. More generally, buses that run at 40-minute and 60-minute frequencies are useless, especially if the connecting bus is late. By the way, making passengers wait outside in extremely cold or extremely hot weather while the bus driver is inside the bus is against stated Metro policy, I believe. I’m not sorry I supported the Metro tax increase, but I’m not exactly jubilant, either.

    • February 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      I will have to double check the policy on letting passengers inside the bus. Many do. I will get back to you.

  15. nA
    February 9, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    Courtney – I would also be interested in knowing what is Metro’s policy on following items:

    1. How long before can a driver allow passengers inside?
    2. Are they supposed to keep the engine and heaters running while waiting to depart or not?

  16. Christine
    February 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    I was one of the St. Charles County residents who only took MetroLink to the Cardinals game. Now that I live in St. Louis County, the only type of public transportation I use is MetroLink. I still drive 95% of the time but I would love to take it more or learn to take the bus for the first time in 26 years but it is too difficult (to take the bus that is). It would be AMAZING if I could take a 3am train home from the bar or late night event if I wanted to but I can’t. It’s doesn’t run that late. I think St. Louis would be surprised how many more people would take MetroLink or Ride the bus if it operated later and actually went to designated stops or neighborhoods without difficult transfers. Like someone stated above,I don’t want to be harassed, followed or cursed out because I don’t have fare for you. Yes, I have been asked several times. I believe in public transportation in St. Louis but we have a LONG way to go before we can call it that. An actual service to the public.

  17. February 10, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    frequency, frequency, frequency

    The bus takes too long because you have to wait a long time for it to arrive, and even longer if you’re transferring.

    I ride buses because I choose not to drive. I ride my bike because I can bike across the whole city in the time it takes for my bus to show up by my house. On Sundays I can walk across the city in the time it takes for the bus to show up.

    I’m a fan of buses, but I walk the bus routes because I lack confidence in Metro’s ability to pick me up. Between the Botanical Gardens and the CWE, I almost always get there on foot faster than by bus, and that’s a problem.

  18. Anon
    February 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    The handful of times I’ve ridden the bus, I’ve been harassed – both sexually and racially. I don’t need that.

  19. RTBones
    February 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Let me see if I can’t summarize a few points here that seem to be recurring:

    1) Frequency. Missed/multiple connections and waiting in the cold/heat are no fun. Like Daron above, I have had too many times where I walked a bus route (West End to CWE) faster than the bus or waiting for a train. Time is money – particularly to those folks able to choose between riding transit and driving.

    2) Extended service. Let us ride OUTSIDE normal commute hours. If I take transit in to work, and my colleagues want to do a happy hour or gathering in the Chesterfield Valley, unless I get a ride I am out if I am taking transit – because even if I can get there, getting back is an issue.

    3) A night service of some kind. Would LOVE to be able to take a night service. I am sure others (like Christine above) would too. I am sure STLPD would also love for there to be a way for folks to have a good time and not have to drive. I am sure bars and restaurants and clubs would love to be able to tell their patrons that there is a night service (so they don’t have to worry about a cab – which if you haven’t noticed, is a pain to get at times in this town). Even if it wasn’t a “normal” route, but connected the trains with entertainment areas (Soulard, South Grand, the Landing, Washington Avenue, CWE, the Loop, Westport, etc) so that folks going home after an evening out didn’t have to drive or spend $35 (or more) on a cab.

    3) Reduce connections. Linked to #1 above. I don’t want to have to make three changes to get to where I need to go. I realize that if I am going from Florrisant to Soulard, there are probably going to be two changes I need to make (bus to train to bus), at least with the system we have now. But if I am going Kirkwood to downtown, I shouldn’t have to wait at transfer stations for nearly an hour combined just because it is after 8:30pm at night.

    4) Find a way to educate your ridership (and Metro security) so that people don’t get harassed for train/bus fare just because of the way they are dressed.

    5) Have your drivers be consistent with policy in regards to when passengers can be allowed on, particularly in inclement weather. Not all bus stops have shelters. But if you educate your drivers and the riding public that the driver will not allow you on until XYZ minutes before departure, that would help. Again, this ties in with #1, because one of the reasons so many folks get caught waiting is lack of frequency.

    6) Courtney, Jennifer, y’all know this is coming: Update. Your. Signs.

    7) Get out of the mindset of a “commuter” system. Putting transfer stations and park-n-ride lots near a highway does nothing for people in the suburbs that might walk to a bus stop. This being the Midwest, once they get in their car – it is likely they’ll just drive (unless you can convince them that you can get them where they need to go and back when THEY want to come back…which goes back to frequency again.)

  20. nA
    February 10, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    RTBones – You are fantastic. I had the same idea of gleaning some of the significant issues mentioned in all the comments and summarizing them. You have covered all of them….. We all are passionate about transit and I hope we can make a difference together be it small or big!

  21. nA
    February 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    I am one of those people who rides Metro because I really want to.

    I ride metro on the coldest of coldest nights even though I have a car sitting at home (which I can afford to ride everyday) because I really want to.

    I ride metro with shoulder problems carrying a 10 lb load because I really want to.

    I ride metro even though time is money for me because I really want to.

    Even though I am a busy working professional I ride metro because I really want to.

    Even though I am missing my favorite programs I ride metro because I really want to.

    Even though I could have driven my car I take numerous bus connections because I really want to.

    I run like a chicken with its head cut off to make connections when others are making fun of me because I really want to.

    I wait endlessly in subzero temperatures for buses in shelters where there are no heaters because I really want to.

    I take buses to destinations where I need to walk for a mile in cold weather and unsafe conditions after getting off the bus because I really want to.

    I control my bladder while waiting for buses in transit centers where there are no public restrooms because I really want to.

    Courtney, let me reiterate few points here.

    1. Punctuality is very important during cold winters for buses. Punctuality up to seconds can leave a good impression that is indelible.

    2. Increased frequency is huge.

    3. Taking public transit is a HUGE cultural change. You can never attract those people who are completely against it. You should focus your efforts on gaining faith from existing riders who will be your missionaries in spreading good word.

  22. Jimmy Z
    February 11, 2011 at 12:44 am #

    Most of my thoughts are in my survey responses and are echoed above. The one thing that no one has mentioned is treating Metro’s various parts as an integrated SYSTEM, not a group of discrete elements. The first step should be eliminating charging for transfers, followed by eliminating fare differentials for single-seat bus rides, bus rides requiring transfers and rides on Metrolink. While many casual riders focus on and only use Metrolink, “real” transit users care less about specific vehicle type and care a lot more about the quickest way between Point A and Point B.

    The next big challenge is increasing frequency. In a perfect world, We’d do that on every route. But since we can’t (limited, finite $$$$), we need to look at doing a better job of streamlining routes, maximizing frequencies, extending hours and providing better options to suburban users. Metro remains a system focused on downtown St. Louis, while the rest of the region increasingly needs suburban-to-suburban connections, essentially a grid system with timed-transfer points instead of a hub-and-spoke sytem foused on the CBD. (Even Metrobus’s busiest route (Grand) aviods downtown and the busiest Metrolink station is in the CWE!)

    Low-income, transit-dependent riders have few other choices, and are essentially a captive audience. Metro’s greatest opportunity to grow its system lies with “choice” riders, and the most effective way to attract them is to make it appear that transit is a great deal – subsidized monthly passes and free parking are already attracting a large number of Wash U students and staff and BJC employees; the trick is expanding that to other employers and other sectors of the economy.

    Finally, neglecting the needs and desires of the dozen-times-a-year rider is a big false economy. Whether it’s using Metrolink to get to the airport or the convention center, or having special bus service available from suburban park-and-rides and private parking lots to Rams games and special events like the St. Patricks Day Parade, Mardi Gras and the Komen Race, these are people who vote. With 3/4 of Metro’s funding coming from taxes, the more people you make happy, even if it costs significantly more on a per-seat basis for special services, is more than offset in the long run by increased voter support.

  23. Jimmy Z
    February 11, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    Only slightly related – I was boarding Metrolink at the Brentwood station today (someplace I usually don’t) and had to validate a two-hour pass. There were two validators, one “normal” older one that said “Insert Ticket” (that didn’t work) and one newer one with a pictogram that appeared to be for new swipe-card/RFID/proximity media. Only upon further investigation did I figure out that it also/still had a slot to validate old fare media (but no apparent directions), and it did work. This is just another example of not being KISS. Never underestimate the denseness of your potential customers – anything you can do to not confuse riders is good. In this case, simply adding “Insert Ticket” below the pictogram would be a great solution!

  24. nA
    February 11, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Stephanie – You are absolutely right. Perceptions need to change and we need to accept Metro as it is and move on. Every system has flaws but we all need to play a part in making it better.

  25. TJW
    February 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    To get more riders Bi State needs better services. Like having a shuttle bus that goes straight to airport,six flags,raging rivers, mills mall,chesterfield,ofallon,casinos, locations way out in counties etc just places were a lot of ppl go. Also bi state should have a 24hr bus that runs on major streets like grand, kingshighway,page,lindburg,367,hall street,union etc.

  26. nA
    February 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Courtney – I have mentioned this before but I am saying it again because I waited for 20 minutes thinking that bus will arrive but it did not.

    For northbound #10 bus, in the AM service for Lindell & Grand 11:54, 12:32 . As a rider I would think that bus is supposed to arrive at 12:32 (approximately) at Lindell & Grand but apparently the timings are 11:54 and 12:24.

    Why is the 12:32 one hanging in there? It is quite confusing. I learned it hard way waiting for the bus in the cold weather today.

    Thanks for clarification.

    • February 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      I’ll talk with the planning department to find out what the problem is, and will let you know. Thanks!

  27. Jack
    February 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    as a frequent traveler around the country and being personally disabled with a Medicare Card, I was wondering why your system(not the only one) doesn’t allow people from outside the St Louis area to ride with reduced fares in your area? There are prob many thousands of travelers like me who visit your city, but have to pay full fare for staying in your city for a few days. Most public transportation systems allow out of town travelers to use their transit systems by show a Medicare Care and out of area Identification(ie.. drivers license, state ID card, etc). For instance, I will most likely be coming to St Louis in June for the Phillies-Cardinal series and i generally use public trans. to get around since I dont know the city. But since I’m only there 3 days, why go to all the trouble to get an area Transit Card for reduced fares that I would be able to get in almost every other city in the US?

  28. Colleen
    February 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    I just finished reading all these comments – great insights from everyone. And it’s hard to hear sometimes, but I think at the root of it are some very helpful perspectives.

    I’m also one of the people who chooses to ride the bus, even though I have a car and can certainly get to/from work and school in it a bit more quickly. Some people, shockingly or not, just simply don’t like to drive. I feel like I’ve started my day in a much better place mentally and emotionally if I can avoid road rage filled drivers, accidents and backups, and people weaving in and out at the 55/Memorial Drive/PSB exit nonsense when I head downtown. I also get fresh air and a bit of zoning out time when I wait for the bus/train.

    I have the luxury of using a student pass from UMSL right now so I don’t have to pay any extra and can choose to hop on a bus any morning I have the time and don’t feel like driving (and don’t have out of office meetings). But I haven’t gotten to the point where I do it every day.

    The thing that keeps me from doing that is a 40 minute door-to-door commute for 5.5 miles (bus and train), vs. a 15 min door-to-door commute by car. Some days I just NEED that extra 15 minutes or so in the morning. Or it’s too cold.

    I agree that we need tools that will entice folks who WANT to like/use/support transit but can’t quite make the jump, such as the GPS tracking of buses so you know how long till they’ll be at your stop (approx.). DC has this, I saw it in action this fall. Very cool. Also, easier fares (cash-free cards), which I realize is in the works for the relatively near future. And of course, things like correct signage/directionals/bus depot “comfort” would all improve the image of being a bus rider.

    I know Metro doesn’t own the CWE bus depot, Wash U does, but who else would know that from the looks of it? The station gets very dirty and at times last summer would smell like trash and urine. There aren’t enough benches, and the ones that are there are metal and freezing in the winter. All these things make it somewhat unpleasant to wait for your bus there.

    I appreciate all of the comments people have taken the time to leave, and also Metro for asking us. Viva la bus! :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Encouraging More People to Take Buses – What Can We Do? | NextStop STL -- Topsy.com - February 7, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by STL Activist Hub, Sheila E, Antonio P, Gateway Streets, STL Metro Transit and others. STL Metro Transit said: We want your input: how to encourage more people to try taking the bus? Please fill out short survey! http://ow.ly/3RZbc […]

  2. Blog 17 » Car-Optional Living: Help improve MetroBus! - February 8, 2011

    […] Next Stop STL recently came out with a survey questioning Metro users and non-users: what can be done to get more people to use the MetroBus system? Please fill out the survey and give you input, so Metro can begin making strides towards making the bus system more accessible to everyone, including all residents, employees, and patrons of the 17th Ward. You can access the survey here. […]

  3. Survey Results: Readers Tell Us How to Encourage More People to Ride MetroBus | NextStop STL - March 9, 2011

    […] asked NextStop readers and Metro Facebook follows to answer a short survey on how to encourage more […]

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