Forest Park Trolley Part of New Traffic Relief Route and Trolley Service to Ease Forest Park Congestion Starting Friday, April 1

Forest Park Forever, Park attractions, the City of St. Louis, Metro, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC) and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) today announced a new traffic relief route and a Metro Forest Park Trolley service to help manage vehicle traffic in the park on busy days (and we all know how busy it can get!). The new traffic routing system and Metro Forest Park Trolley service will be implemented on April 1 and aims to alleviate the extreme congestion at the Hampton/I-64 exit and inside the park on warm days and during major Forest Park events. The Forest Park Trolley is a public-private partnership designed to help better control traffic flow and keep people moving throughout Forest Park.

Forest Park Trolley Map 2011

The Metro Forest Park Trolley Service line will operate daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., seven days a week, from April 1 through Oct. 31 with extended summer hours,  9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. with service every 20 minutes. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. It will connect all park attractions, as well as the Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink Station. Adult Trolley fares are $2 per adult. Children 6-12, seniors and disabled passengers ride for $1. Kids five and under ride free.  Visitors can either park in the Visitor Center parking lot or in the upper Muny parking lot, and hop on the Forest Park Trolley for a lift to their desired attraction.

As a result of the new Traffic Routing Plan, drivers will make a circular path through the park, past many parking lots at The Muny, Visitor Center, along Government Drive and past both Saint Louis Zoo lots. Here’s what visitors can expect from the new plan:

  • Access at the Hampton and Wells Drive roundabout will divert drivers onto the Relief Route to the right (east) on Wells Drive only during Relief Route hours.
  • If drivers enter the park using northbound Hampton, no access will be allowed to Concourse and Washington Drives, only during Relief Route hours.

Relief Route hours and timing:

  • 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., seven days a week starting April 1

Forest Park Trolley hours and timing:

  • 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., daily, April 1 through October 31
  • Extended Summer hours, 9:00 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day

The Forest Park Trolley service will have maps and signage within the park to help guide visitors.  To find out more information on the Traffic Routing Plan and other news from Forest Park, visit Forest Park Forever.

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65 Responses to “Forest Park Trolley Part of New Traffic Relief Route and Trolley Service to Ease Forest Park Congestion Starting Friday, April 1”

  1. March 29, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    While I’m all for decreasing traffic congestion in the park and for making an effort to bring more riders onto MetroBus, I have to question where cyclers fit in this traffic relief plan?

    • March 29, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      The Trolley has two bike racks on it like other MetroBuses, but my guess is that cyclists can take the bike path around and use the rack located around the park. There might be more information on the Forest Park Forever website, but that’s what I personally will do.

  2. RTBones
    March 29, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Please…say this isn’t so. Just…wow. Why is it Metro feels the way to get folks to ride in St. Louis is to treat the ridership like children?

    I understand the desire for a branded service in the park, but really? Another fake trolley? This is the best you could do?

    Metro can afford maps and signage for THIS, but cant put maps and signage on its normal routes?

    Does Metro honestly believe they are going to get enough ridership out of this thing to affect traffic in any appreciable manner?

    Sorry – I’ll pass.

    • March 29, 2011 at 11:50 am #

      The Trolley itself is part of a larger traffic rerouting plan. People will be rerouted away from the more popular parking and areas of congestion to lesser used lots, and encouraged to use the Trolley to get around. It is a public-private partnership, with Forest Park Forever and park attractions contributing to service and signage costs.

  3. RTBones
    March 29, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Justin – that’s just it, there ISN’T a plan for cyclists in this. There is the standard bike rack, on the front of the bus.

  4. RTBones
    March 29, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Courtney – to respond to your “cyclists can take the bike path around” comment – an awful lot of times, cyclists are riding the streets and not the path because the path is jammed. Walkers, runners, roller bladers, moms with strollers, they all affect traffic on the path. An awful lot of cyclists use the roads in and through the park because of this. We (cyclists) understand that we are usually going slightly faster than everybody else, and generally try to avoid foot/blade traffic where we can. On the streets in the park, speed limits are such that we can mix fairly well and not hinder anybody.

  5. RTBones
    March 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    I understand wanting to reduce congestion by changing traffic patterns.

    I understand wanting a branded service.

    I am, however, at a loss as to why Metro insists on the fake trolleys (which, are childish looking). Honestly, the fake trolley was the only thing that planners thought of? The old shuttle bugs were better than this.

    You can count on this being another service I will not take.

  6. Isaac
    March 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    One step missing in the traffic relief plan is to charge – at least as much as the cost of two MetroLink round-trip tickets – to park a car in the Park during high-traffic times. That way, fewer people would try to drive into the Park in low-occupancy vehicles, more people would park at a Park-Ride lot and take MetroLink in, congestion would be alleviated, and the lots would generate revenue that could be used to fund/increase/fare-reduce the trolley service.

  7. mike
    March 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Is this the same Summer Shuttle that Metro has operated in Forest Park in the past, or is this trolley providing a supplemental service to the Summer Shuttle? What kind of headway is Metro providing for this trolley?

    Just like regular bus service, I hope people won’t have to burn up in the sun or endure summer downpours because of long waits between buses—excuse me, I mean trolleys; otherwise, they are better off keeping their two bucks, and walking to or riding their bikes to their destinations, in which I feel most people, especially the bike riders, would prefer doing anyway.

  8. RTBones
    March 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I’ll be curious to see what happens to parking (and what the plan is), actually. The Zoo, the Art Museum, and the History Museum all have lots. There is a lot across from the tennis courts, and folks are used to street parking in a lot of places in and around the park core.

  9. RTBones
    March 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Mike – you hit on an excellent point regarding headways. I take the 90 on occasion through the park, and if headways for this bus are like they are for the 90, walking is almost a no brainer.

  10. mike
    March 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    I smell a “dead rat”! This sounds like a plan that may lead to more parking restrictions, especially street parking, and trying to force people out of their cars to use these trollies, and may eventually impose parking fees at the parking lots that are currently free to park.

  11. dkh2
    March 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    To: RTBones, and Mike
    I think you all should be ashamed for saying the Forest park Trolley is a bad idea…it’s an excellent idea. I am 16 years old, and I grew up with the Forest park Shuttle Bug. It was nice riding a separate bus than the Hampton because of it’s frequency ( fyi…15 minutes won’t kill a man in the rain or sun) Metro has every intention on receiving the same amount of riders as they have (For the Past 18 years) The Trolley isn’t childish, it’s CREATIVE. This post is from the mind of a 16 year old, who doesn’t live in Missouri, I use Madison County Transit.
    To: Courtney
    I’m sure “The trolley Style” will entice people to ride it. The only problem (that’s really no big deal is) Why could’nt the Shuttle have been a new bus?

  12. dkh2
    March 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    To: Have you any more pics of this bus? Maybe the fron, rear, and passenger side? Thanx.

    • March 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

      The type and age of the bus used has more to do with fleet demands: what routes and garages need what buses for different routes. I do have some additional photos; will put them together and post.

  13. dkh2
    March 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Thank you Courtney…I hope the people who complained about the Trolley read my comment earlier.

  14. March 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    I am shocked and appalled at the folks who are claiming that the Trolly is a bad idea because it looks silly and not as convenient as a personal vehicle.

    I for one wish every MetroBus looked like the Forest Park & Downtown Trollies because it would make the St. Louis Streets look more awesome.

    On the issue of connivence, we talk of congestion and yet refuse to look at the biggest cause of congestion: personal vehicles. In my opinion the connivence of greater movement far outweighs the connivence of hundres of personal vehicles scattered throughout the park. What’s the big deal with waiting outdoors anyway? Need I remind you you’ll be in a park which you chose to go to?

    Returning to my initial question about cyclists in the park, I think it’s great that the trolly will have the standard bike rack on it, however I was thinking more of cyclists riding throughout the park. I assume it’s fair to say on internal park roads cyclists will be treated as standard traffic?

  15. Nick
    March 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    I think it’s great that the park is going to have shuttle service again, but as with other commenters, I think there are some severe flaws with the way this service is implemented.
    1)This is a very high profile exposure for Metro. Many of the people in the park come from surrounding areas (including the STL county voters who are so important to Metro funding) and this is likely one of the only exposures they will have to transit. I hope we are not putting them in the old busses as pictured at the top of the post. This is an important opportunity to showcase benefits of passing the sales tax and I would expect such a high profile route to use the newer low-floor busses.
    2)The frequency is much too low. Anyone who is able-bodied can walk to where they are going much faster. Get the wait time down and the shuttle will become a good option.
    3)Are there shelters and amenities for transit riders in the park? I don’t think I’ve noticed any. Most people will be using this mid-day, not just early morning and evening as with commuters. St. Louis is HOT!! in the summer and given the low frequency on the route, people aren’t realistically going to stand around on super-heated cement to wait 20 minutes for a bus. Shaded stops are a necessity.
    4)As others noted, the trolley theme is tacky. I appreciate the desire to create a separate brand for this service, but pick something else. The trolley theme sends the message that transit is an historically-based gimmick, not a legitimate transportation method.

  16. mike
    March 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi dkh2

    No one is ashamed for expressing their views and thoughts on this subject, or any subject matter. I haven’t seen any comments in this posting that anyone should feel ashamed of. You will learn in school and as you mature through life, America has fought for the kind of freedom that we enjoy, that made it possible to allow citizens, like you, RTBones and me, the right to express our views without the fear of retribution. I am a veteran that fought in a war, to make it possible, for us to continue to enjoy that freedom .

    The set up is perfect for a happy-go-lucky 16 year old, or someone with the mindset of a 16 year-old, who likes joy riding in vehicles made up of “wild styles”. But it remains to be seen if they will serve the purpose that it is intended for. By the way, where did you get the 411 on the service frequency for the trollies? People other than 16 year olds who use public transit, like to be provide with relevant details when changes occur.

    • March 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

      Mike, the trolley service is every 20 minutes. The information is on the posted signage, and I will add to the post.

  17. mike
    March 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Justin,

    What does connivence mean?

    Nick,

    You brought out some very good points.

    The shuttle service is a great idea, just make it functional for everyone, and don’t make it seem like it’s set up for just special interest groups or activities.

  18. RTBones
    March 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    DKH2 –

    Let me see if I can’t address some of your points.

    Ashamed? Why? Did you read my posts? Or Mike’s? It is not the concept of a Forest Park shuttle that I am against (or Mike, I suspect), it is the implementation of it – as usual. I am all for reducing traffic in Forest Park, because I cycle there.

    Metro wants people to ride the bus and train. I am all for that. I want the city to have a robust system, because that is part of what city life is about – you don’t have to drive. You can get to where you want, WHEN you want (within reason). I just don’t want to be treated like a child when I do it – which is what I feel like with this thing. This is supposed to be part of a transit system – not a toy. You can paint the bus creatively and still have it be “professional.” I also don’t want to get my hopes up that we are actually going to have a REAL trolley back in the City, only to find out it is one of Metro’s fakes.

    You mention to Courtney about riding “trolley style” and that being an enticement. I can tell you (as can both Courtney and Mike) – to me, it is the exact opposite. The only thing “trolley style” about this is the NAME, which is blatantly false advertising. It is a BUS, with a paint scheme. There are no internal seat changes that would even REMOTELY resemble a “trolley”. There are no rails. There are no wires (not even for an electric “trolleybus”.) It isn’t electric. It’s a painted city bus. I am on record here via numerous posts regarding the 99 and my distaste for it, so Courtney and Metro at least know part of where I am coming from. Ask Courtney, Mike, or Jennifer. You may find it creative – and that is your right. I find it childish (as a professional who is older than you) – and that is my right.

    15 minutes in the sun or rain won’t kill anybody? True, doesn’t mean I want to wait in the heat or rain if I can help it. As Courtney and I and Mike and others have discussed here, Metro headways are part of what many of us feel the reason Metro’s buses aren’t ridden more often. Again, this is supposed to be part of Metro’s system. You want people to ride? Make it worth their while. To use an old phrase, time is money. I have no children of my own, but I suspect mom & dad & two little ones are going to want to get home after a day at the Park, not wait 20 minutes for the next bus to take them to their car. Mom is going to send dad to hoof it to the car and come get the family. Headways for this thing are 20 minutes (according to the sheet Courtney put at the top of her post). I live near the Park and can get most of the way home from the Park core in 20 minutes – or to Metrolink if I didn’t. Why, exactly, would I ride it?

    As an aside – as someone who rides Metro more than casually, the first time a bus doesn’t show up when it is supposed to when I’m waiting for one, I’ll scream. Ride the system enough, and it will happen to you in this town. Headways are huge as it is. For me, being stuck in the middle of Forest Park is not horrid as I can walk to where I need to be. Going back to that family – do you think they will ever ride again? I don’t.

    There is also no mention of transfers. Why is this important? Well, lets say you come from North Hanley or Fairview Heights via Metrolink. Will your ticket with a transfer cover you, or will you have to pay another two dollars. I hold a monthly pass. Will I have to pay $2 to ride, or will my pass cover it? That isn’t mentioned. As a guy with a monthly pass, do you honestly think I am going to pay another $4 to ride something that is part of Metro’s system? ($2 in, $2 out).

    There is also no mention I can find (either here or Forest Park Forever’s website) that mentions what the traffic reroutes will do to cyclists. I don know these buses will have a rack for two cycles – because they are PAINTED CITY BUSES. Cycling is primarily what I do in Forest Park. While there are the trails around the Park, they are hugely popular…with walkers, runners, roller bladers, folks with strollers, kids, etc. While I occasionally ride the trail, I usually stick to the roads within the Park. Its safer for me, its safer for the folks I just mentioned. What will this reroute do to me? What will the parking restrictions do (restrict cars in one area, they move to another).

    Speaking of parking, Metro wants to encourage folks to park out and take this thing in. Fair enough, but are they going to charge for the lot at the tennis courts? How about the Art Museum? The Zoo? If they are going to charge for parking, folks can park in the neighborhoods nearby (as they do now, but moreso). Do you honestly think they are going to take this thing? No – they are going to walk from their car – like they do now – primarily because they have to wait 20 minutes for a bus. How about street parking within the Park? Will it be abolished? Will it be limited? If it’s abolished, the cars will overflow on Lindel, Pershing, and other places nearby. If it is limited, similar will apply.

    Finally – this thing gets signs. It gets maps. Where are these for the rest of the SYSTEM? (Yes, Court – I know its because of who and how this was paid for. Peace, darlin’.) I would MUCH rather see Metro take care of problems within its SYSTEM – things that I will ride -than I would see them spend time and effort on this – which I will definitely NOT in this form (also, I won’t ride the 99 either for many of the same reasons).

    For the record, this post comes from someone who calls St. Louis home – I am not native. I’ve also lived, worked, and played in a lot of different places around the world with a lot of different transit systems. I am also one of the riders Metro wants – because I can CHOOSE to ride Metro, or not.

  19. RTBones
    March 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Nick brings up some great points. Justin – again, it isn’t the idea of a shuttle, it’s how Metro (and FPF) implemented it. As to the paint job – Nick has already stated, Forest Park is part of what brings folks into the city from the County (which passed the taxes to give Metro funding), and this shuttle may be their first experience with public transport. Nick’s phrasing is right on – it makes it seem like transit is a historically based gimmick, not a real transport system.

  20. Dkh2
    March 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Courtney, Im sorry about causing such a stir about the Trolley, but I’m uncomfortable with people negatively commenting on my posts because of my age. Some of which I won’t call their names were rude and disrespectful and insulted my intelligence. I am not Happy Go Lucky, and Wild Styles do not catch my eye.

    Thank you.

  21. RJ
    March 30, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    The trolley sticker/decal looks very tacky and I don’t think it represents the kind of image we want to be projecting at one of the top tourist destinations in our region. Replace the childish looking “trolley” with one of the new buses in the fleet. This thing just looks ridiculous and makes it appear that our transit officials/planners have the maturity of a 2nd grader.

  22. March 30, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    Is there no room for whimsy, then? I think the design is cute, personally.

  23. RTBones
    March 30, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Jennifer –
    Honestly? NO, at least, not if you want this to be taken seriously as a transit agency. You can be cute and whimsical, and not treat your ridership like children (which is what you are doing). No offense intended, but this looks like a toy, tackily panders to history to try and bring in riders, and does not come across as a serious attempt at transit (or congestion relief it is supposed to help). 20 minute headways? We just had this conversation. That sounds like you have exactly one bus allocated for this service. If there is a disruption for any reason, or a bus gets missed, that’s _40_ minutes between rides. Honestly, if this is the first experience with buses in St. Louis for someone, do you think they are EVER going to ride again after that? Do you think people are going to wait up to 40 minutes in the heat or rain for a bus when they can walk it?

    You did a survey to try and figure out why people don’t ride the bus more. Think about this. We have had several long discussions about why people do not ride the buses more. This is a prime example. It takes too long, and is more interested in being “cute and whimsical” than it is in being transit.

  24. RTBones
    March 30, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    DKH2,

    You didn’t cause a stir about the bus – Metro and Forest Park Forever did with their implementation of the service. You brought up your age on your own, which makes it a fair topic for conversation. No one here intended to offend you (of that, I am certain), but several of us do disagree with your position.

    I encourage you to go back into the archives of the blog here and read some of the conversations. Courtney and Jennifer do some fantastic work by making themselves available to be a conduit for folks like Mike and myself who want transit to succeed in St. Louis. We’ve seen better (and worse) systems, and feel Metro has a potential to be much more than it is. The only way Metro is ever going to change is if we make our voices heard. We may not agree on how things are run – but at least we can have the conversation.

    • March 30, 2011 at 10:50 am #

      Yes, let us all remember to keep conversation civil, respectful, and productive for the good of the discussion. – CLS

  25. dkh2
    March 30, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Thank you Courtney and Jennifer….That’s all I have to say.

  26. mike
    March 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    dkh2

    I want to personally apologize if I offended you with my comments. I, in no way, was out to offend anyone with my comments, anymore than I felt offended with your comment about feeling ashamed about my comment. This blog is an open forum and people are enititled to express their views as long as their views are not derogatory or otherwise offensive.

    Again dkh2, I apologize for my comment and don’t let this
    “intended to be harmless episode” discourage you from participating in future converstions in this blog. I admire young people who want to get involve into something positive and constructive, especially when it involves issues which are vital to our community. We need and welcome input from people of your generation who make up a large part of Metro’s ridership, since they also use public transit to commute back and forth from their homes to school, jobs, shopping and places of entertainment. Your input could help make a difference in making Metro a better transit system for your generation, as well as for future generations.

  27. dkh2
    March 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Thank you “Mike”,
    I may have worded my comment a little too strongly. But I do stand that the bus does look nice to me, and that the men and women who took the time to decorate these buses have done a magnificant job.

    Courtney or Jennifer,
    Do you think maybe with the order of the new buses coming in soon, could be apart of the Forest Park Trolley maybe next year?

    • March 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      I think that depends on several factors, but right now the new buses are being used on regular routes, which run from 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. I cannot at this time speculate on where the new buses will go in the future.

  28. RTBones
    March 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Courtney & Jennifer,

    I do have a couple questions that you might be able to answer (mostly based on my posts above). Transit planning is never easy, and I am just looking to understand what went into planning this service.

    1) 20 minute headways

    May I ask what the logic was here? Given our recent discussions and the survey results, headways seem to be an obstacle to ridership. I know this was done in partnership with Forest Park Forever and the institutions in the park, but is this simply a lack of assets (meaning, you can only commit one bus to this)? The problem I have with 20 minute headways is that if you _just_ miss a bus, or there is a hangup along the route, you could be forced to wait for up to 40 minutes for the next service. That kind of time lag is not going to encourage ridership. Additionally, one bus every 20 minutes is not going to do much of anything to reduce traffic, because it is only a real option for a very few people.

    2) Parking

    What is the plan for parking? I know part of the idea here is to reduce congestion in the park. Given the headways of this service, the only way you get people to park out is to force them out – meaning reducing street parking, and possibly charging for existing lots. Is this the plan?

    3) Paint scheme

    You all know how much I would like to see a real trolley system working with Metrolink and the buses back in St.Louis. You also know how much I dislike this and the 99’s paint scheme. (Ditto for the maps on the 99, by the way. We cant have more professionally made maps? That’s another topic, though.) But if I focus on Forest Park – this is one of the crown jewels as far as tourism goes in St. Louis. Metro has been trying to increase ridership on buses, to the point of putting out surveys to your regular readers and riders to solicit our opinions. Is this thing really the image you want to portray to tourists, or perhaps riders from the county (who pay taxes that support you) that don’t take transit often? You’ve seen the comments above – I know I have been vocal in my dislike for it, but I am not the only one that sees this as a tacky gimmick. You can be whimsical on the Holiday Train – this is supposed to be a regular service. Can we tone down the “cutesy” (including the name, please) and give your ridership something that lets us know Metro is actually serious about transit? A simple mural of Forest Park below window level on the bus, with a name like “Forest Park Circulator” tells non-regular riders that this bus circulates through the Park, gives you a brand, but doesn’t scream schmaltzy gimmick. You could even highlight the route of the Circulator on the mural.

    4) Pricing

    I’ve seen what you have on the flier. How does this price work with pass holders (monthly, weekly, or daily), transfer holders, and regular tickets? Will Metro ticket/transfer holders have to pay an additional $2, or will their existing ticket/transfer work on this service?

    As always, thanks for what you do for us!

    • March 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

      1) Frequency is determined by a number of factors, but the main aspect to remember is making the optimal use of available resources across the entire system. Any route would enjoy increased frequency, but it is not always possible. The FP Trolley has expanded service this summer thanks in large part to a partnership with the Park and its park attractions. Information will be available throughout the park to help people plan their trip, as well as the usual resources on Metro’s website and Google Transit. If you miss a bus, you should only have to wait 20 minutes for the next bus at the same location. Multiple buses are dedicated to the route.

      2) Parking. According the information provided by Forest Park Forever, traffic will be specifically diverted to other lots in the park to help ease congestion at certain streets and lots. There was no indication that parking pricing would change throughout the park. The idea is to alleviate congestion that backs up on Hampton Avenue and I-64.

      3) Many people have different aesthetic opinions on the design, but it was a collaborative effort among several partners to help make the service look inviting and fun. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I do encourage you to take a look at some of the specific details of the design: the Science Center’s T-Rex, the Art Museum’s Apotheosis of St. Louis and Andy Warhol, the Zoo’s elephant, and other characters in history, art, learning and exercise. It could be seen as a reminder that Forest Park is not merely the Zoo or Art Museum or a bike trail, but an entire collection of wonderful attractions steeped in national history and uniquely spread throughout this large and historic green space.

      4) The FP Trolley operates as regular Metro service, with all usual passes, transfer and tickets applying as fare.

      Hopefully, that answers all your questions for now. :)

  29. dkh2
    March 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Does Arts in Tranist plan on painting any buses this year?

    • March 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Yes, applications for artists were received a few months ago. I will announce on the blog when future events are planned.

  30. RTBones
    March 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    Courtney –

    Thanks for the answers. A couple of comments —

    Multiple buses – 20 minutes is a long time. I understand what you are saying, but most able-bodied people can walk from most of the park core to Metrolink in that time. You say, “only 20 minutes.” It is too long. To put it in perspective, wait at North Hanley for 20 minutes some time. Or Grand. Or JJK. I am actually tying to look at this through the eyes of some of my colleagues (many of whom who live in the county or in the Fairview Heights area) that refuse to take the bus because of the long wait times. They all think I am nuts for waiting at North Hanley to take the bus to work. One missed bus in the park, and they will never ride it again. If they tried to take the bus from North Hanley, and found out they had to wait a half hour for the next one because of a missed connection (or late bus), they would never ride it again. As we have talked in the past, I see this as Metro ignoring the folks who could choose to ride (for those that must ride, 20 minutes is 20 minutes). Metro may not think time is money, but the folks paying the tax to support you do.

    Paint job – always in the eye of the beholder. But when you call a bus a “trolley” – and paint it to look like one, it can be seen as a gimmick, particularly given the proud history of streetcars and trolleys St. Louis has. I saw the characters on the bus, and got the inferences. Here’s the thing: this service is part of Metro. Metro is supposed to be a professional transit organization, non-profit or not. This paint job looks anything but professional. It tells me (and others) that Metro does not consider transit to be serious. This fake “trolley” is not the image I want people to have of the City (or Metro) when they come to visit. Metro can do better than this.

    For me personally (regardless of paint scheme), this service does nothing. I live close to the park, and as I mentioned earlier, I can get most of the way home from the core (and certainly to Metrolink) in the 20 minutes I would have to wait for the next bus. If the headways were smaller, maybe. 20 minutes is too long in my opinion, as a guy who has the means to choose (and gets enormous grief defending Metro from colleagues to whom time is everything.)

    In my final note on the paint job (LOL!): my opinion is that calling this thing a “trolley” is blatantly false advertising. The paint job is tacky, childish, and uses a gimmick to pander to history by calling it a “trolley.” It does nothing for the image of the City, Forest Park, or Metro. The drivers, mechanics, and planners that make up Metro are better than this. The only way I can express my dislike of the service other than talking to you here is to vote with my feet and wallet. I will not ride it (or the 99 – but you knew that).

    Parking – interesting. So the “traffic mitigation” plan is only to reduce congestion coming INTO the park? There is no intention to reduce traffic _in_ the park? Having ridden the park a lot on my bike, once folks figure out how to get in, I suspect they will park where they do now unless you “force” them to go elsewhere. Just me.

    Pricing – suggestion: could you add that to the flier and advertising? Might make things clearer.

    I am not going to ride it, but I do appreciate the information. Luv ya, as always. Thanks!

  31. rbeedee
    March 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    I’m neutral about the design of this particular “trolley,” but I understand the purpose and think it’s a good idea overall. Regular transit users will realize it’s a bus like any other and take it if they feel like it, and non-regular transit users (irregular transit users?) (who I suspect are a vast majority of the people who drive to Forest Park every summer) will realize that they’re not about to step onto a regular MetroBus that’s going to take them out of the park and onto a route they’re unfamiliar with. I remember when I was first learning the system that was one of my fears–taking the wrong bus, missing my stop, getting lost. It’s a bit of a gimmick to get the attention of people using the park, but so what? Metro needs to get the attention of people who don’t use it, and this is one way to get the attention of a certain demographic of potential riders. Maybe if they try it and get used to it they’ll feel more adventurous about the rest of the Metro system. Maybe it will work, maybe not, but I think it’s worth a try.

    A real trolley would be great, but I don’t see how that’s feasible financially in the short term (or maybe even the long term). I don’t think it’s likely that anyone will hear about the “trolley” and think it’s a legit streetcar, but then again people always surprise me. More frequent service would be great, but again, I suspect Metro is having the buses come as frequently as they can.

  32. RTBones
    March 31, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    They could have called this thing anything. Don’t kid yourself, Metro chose “trolley” for a reason. They are pandering. As a customer of theirs and a taxpayer, I dislike it. Sometimes I wonder if they do it just so Courtney and Jennifer can laugh at all my posts about how much I dislike it.

    I just think this is underhanded, particularly after being told point blank that Metro wasn’t trying to make out like the 99 was a real trolley. Ever hear their radio advertisements? I’ll bet the beverage of your choice that if Metro ever makes a commercial for this thing, there will be zero mention that it’s a bus. Zero. Why? Because they know the word “trolley” actually carries a little nostalgic value in this town. (For the record, I know of at least two folks that thought the 99 was an ACTUAL trolley from the advertisements. Yes, they live out west.)

    As Courtney pointed out, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But having just done a survey to figure out how to get more riders, when they announce this thing – it seems (to me) like they ignored everything anybody said. Metro is stuck in the “we have to have a gimmick to get riders” mentality. That’s what they did with the 99. It’s what they are doing here. And as long as that is their philosophy, they’ll stagnate – because they won’t fix the issues with the system as a whole. They cater to the folks that must take transit, they’ll be “cute” to pick up a couple dozen riders here and there, but won’t give the taxpayers that can choose to take transit a system they can actually use.

    I live in the city, and work out. I am continually bombarded with jokes about transit in St. Louis, because my colleagues all know I take it. I choose to take it because as someone who has lived elsewhere, I can see the potential of the system and the city. Most of my colleagues live in the county somewhere – and won’t get on a bus to save their lives. Why? They can’t walk up to a stop and figure out where they need to go. And if they do know, it takes two connections and 40 minutes of wait time at stops (not counting actual ride time) because Metro’s headways are horrid most places. And that’s just getting there, not getting back. This isn’t rocket science. You want ridership? Give people a system that takes them where they want to go, when they want to get there (within reason).

    I think the service is a great idea. I just think the implementation of it sucks swamp spit.

    Just my opinion.

  33. robert
    March 31, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    the design of this bus is a welcome relief from the other buses with advertisements on them

  34. RTBones
    March 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    I understand there are an enormous number of variables that go into planning any single route, let alone a system. I also get that Metro has to work with the funds they have. I’d love to have about a half dozen more Metrolink lines – but the reality is the money just isn’t there for them. Ditto for streetcars. Doesn’t mean I don’t want Metro out there looking for that money to make one or two a reality some day. But I do understand funding limitations. The train system is also only going to be as good as the bus system feeding it.

    The thing that is frustrating to me is as someone who works outside the City and still takes Metro, I hear complaints and jokes about the system almost every day. There’s a lot of good-natured ribbing that goes on, because my colleagues know I ride Metro. I work with professional people – the kind of people that won’t wait 20 minutes in the park for the next bus because their time is important to them. Much of what they say can be at least addressed – and a lot of it has to do with being able to get where people need to go without having to make more than one transfer in a timely manner, and not having to wait at XYZ stop for a huge amount of time. For them, a missed connection (for whatever the reason) where they have to wait 20 minutes for the next service is a deal-breaker – especially when the bus they are waiting for will take a further 20 minutes to get them to where they want to go. As an aside – that is what stops me riding Metro now and again. Standing at North Hanley for 20 minutes, even making a good connection, is a deal-breaker. Not being able to easily figure out where they have to go is a deal-breaker. If they get in a car, unless it’s an event like a game, they’ll drive – not go to a park and ride. They also need to be able to get home – and when you work “irregular” hours, that can be a problem because everything is set up around the “normal” commuter. There is also little to no service between municipalities in the County. The way the system is set up, everything assumes you are coming into the City area.

    I can get spun up now and again, I know. I also know I’m vocal (at least here, anyway). This is one of the few outlets I have to let Metro know how I feel. The hard part for me? Metro just did a big survey, because they are trying to get to the root cause of why people don’t ride the bus more than they do. One of the items that came up was headways. Soon after this survey comes out, Metro announces this Forest Park service – with 20 minute headways. Metro asks our opinion, we tell Metro what we think, and it’s like it never registered. While my dislike of the paint scheme and the name is pretty obvious – even folks that think it’s cute will have a hard time selling me on the fact that this is efficient transit. You can tell me, “You’re in a park. It’s only 20 minutes.” I’ll tell you that I can be most of the way home in that time, with my own two feet. Or in the perspective of a Metro rider – I can walk to Metrolink in that time. Or the perspective of a family – Dad can go get the car in that time. You may think the paint job is awesome. Me? I think it says you aren’t serious about what you do. If this were entirely a Forest Park thing, fair enough. I still wouldn’t like it, I still wouldn’t ride it, but I would understand. But that isn’t what this is. It’s supposed to be part of _Metro’s_ system. Metro, who is trying to figure out how to get more people on it’s buses. I’m sure you may get a few riders – for the kick of it all, kids may like it, that sort of thing – but that describes an amusement park ride – like the train through the Zoo – not public transit.

  35. Julie
    March 31, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    While I feel the fake trolly look is kinda silly, it does make it easier to know what to look for.

    I am curious though, is this service compatible with monthly or university passes? Is the 2 dollar fee for each time you ride the bus or do you get an actual day pass? I like this idea and would like to know more details on it.

    • April 1, 2011 at 8:45 am #

      The Forest Park Trolley works with any monthly or university pass, and also other Metro passes and transfers. The $2 fare is for all-day on-off boarding.

  36. Julie
    March 31, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    I don’t know if my comment posted because I am having computer troubles, so I am just going to rewrite it and you can delete if there is another one by me.

    Will this service be compatible with monthly and university semester passes? Is the $2 fee for each time you get on the bus or is there a day pass you can get?

  37. Joe
    March 31, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    I love this idea of shuttling people around and getting them out of their cars. But I have some ideas that might be better. I do think that Metro should get a double decker for this route as well as one for the Downtown Trooley. It would be an awesome opportunity for Metro to attract visitors in using the bus service. They should call this service “trolleys” either especially since an actual trolley line is opening soon in the Loop. Just my opinion, hope you all like it!

  38. Joe
    March 31, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    Sorry, shouldn’t* call them trolleys.

  39. mike
    March 31, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    Robert

    Part of Metro’s budget includes proceeds made from advertisements that are carried on the buses.

  40. mike
    April 1, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    Sometimes, your first impression can be a lasting impression. What do out-of -towners think of our region when they see that the major mode of downtown public transportation is a trolleymobile. When they see that thing tooting around the downtown of a major metropolitan area, how can they take the rest of this region seriously.

    When companies and businesses want to relocate to other regions, one thing they look for is what does that region has to offer, including public transportation, before they determine if the region is suitable for them. They look at public transportion as a way of getting potential customers, as well as employees back and forth to the company or business. A good example is what your boss, Mr. Nations, did for the community of Chesterfield, following service cutbacks in 2009, when he pushed for funds to keep buses running to Chesterfield, because he knew it was important for their businesses.

    Sometimes a region can be gauged by what out-of-towners observe in its downtown area. When people see a downtown area that’s thriving, robust and full of life, that can lend to a favorable impression for the rest of the region, as to what the rest of the region may have to offer. When people look at at our lackluster downtown area and observe regular public transportation east of Tucker Blvd. being dominated a trolleymobile tooting around, what kind of impression might they have for the rest of the region.

    Major metropolitan areas that thrive have more services to offer to its region, including efficient and convenient public transportation. A robust downtown core area, as well as a healthy and an efficient and reliable public transit system could hold the keys to growth in our region.

    The downtown area should be one of the easiest areas in the region to gain access to from most parts of the metropolitan area since it is the region’s CBD. Some people actually feel that MetroLink is adequate as being the only major conduit from our outlying areas into the downtown core area east of Tucker Blvd. In theory, if one does not mind having to walk a few blocks to get to their downtown destination from the MetroLink Stations, that’s all good. But that should be an obtion. How about an 80 year-old person who may hobble around in a walker; or for those that don’t want to have to deal with inclement weather while walking several blocks from the stations to their destinations. They pay their share of the sales taxes to support Metro; Metro should make it easier for them to have better access by bus to the downtown core area.

    One final note: I think STL missed out on a big opportunity to showcase itself as a tourist attraction during the All-Star activities in 2009, when they failed to build Ball Park Village and Metro had virtually no public transportation, other than MetroLink, to provide direct assess to the various activities that were going on during that time. The service cuts couldn’t have come at a worst time. I heard some negative reviews about Metro, when I was among the crowd attending the events.

    The recent surveys suggested various reasons more people don’t ride buses (I believe not knowing how to signal a stop was one of them). Please! That may account for a very small percent of the reasons. I am hard pressed to believe that could possibly be one of the major reasons more people don’t ride buses. The survey did hit on one point when they suggested the buses don’t run frequent enough. Metro deserves a medal for making that deduction. Problems with assessibility and connectivity are two key areas that I didn’t see in the survey that deserves more focus.

    I agree with RTBones that Metro has the potential and resources to do what they need to do, to succeed in making the system highly efficient in meeting the needs of its riders and generating new ridership, and also in helping to promote the growth of our metropolitan area.

    Just a little humor to stir things up: The FP trolleymobile looks like something straight from Barnum & Bailey. Don’t be mad-It’s a Good Friday. Have a great weekend.

  41. mike
    April 1, 2011 at 1:42 am #

    Correction: The next to the last sentence in the next to the last paragraph reads “to promote the growth”. It should be revised read “to promote the economic growth”

  42. RTBones
    April 1, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Courtney – did you ever think the introduction of the Forest Park service would generate this much discussion?

    A few minor points (you can tell me to shut up anytime you’re sick of my blathering, Courtney. :)

    $2 all-day on-off boarding…so if I read that right, someone parks at the Forest Park Metrolink lot, they only have to pay $2 to ride this thing both where they want to go AND back? That seems…odd. Consider: someone buys a Metrolink & transfer ($2.75). From what you’ve said, this gets them into the park via the FP service. OK, now they want to leave. On the rest of the Metro system, they need another $2.75 for a ticket and transfer. So, on this bus, would their original ticket work, or would they buy their return fare as normal on the bus. Maybe I am over-reading this.

    Julie…I concede it lets you know what to look for. It does stand out, just way too much IMO. The “silliness” (if I may borrow your word) of it could have been toned down and still have a somewhat whimsical feel Jennifer talked about. And calling it a “trolley” is a travesty.

    Joe…double decker buses (at least in the park) is not a bad idea. The problem, I suspect, is funding – where is Metro going to get the money to pay for them. Also, as double deckers, they become unique in Metro’s system, meaning maintenance costs may be higher. But the idea is sound.

    Mike…on your point about what out-of-towners see…I agree. I think that is at least part of the source of my problem with Metro’s “decorating” decisions. I’m not from here, so what locals may see as cute, I see as otherwise. I’m also of a different economic demographic than many of Metro’s riders which also taints how I see what I see. Given that Metro’s prime directive is economic development, I just don’t get why Metro thinks this is the image potential businesses in the City want to leave with. Some people may think it is “cute”, but it doesn’t send a message that St. Louis is serious about public transport. Branding is one thing, “cute toy” is another.

    My biggest hangup with the service as an extension of Metro is that with 20 minute headways, you are taking minimal traffic off the roads in the park – and this was supposed to be part of a congestion reduction plan. I understand (thanks to Courtney’s posts) that the target is really the Hampton/I64 area, but I don’t see how this service is going to reduce the number of cars by any appreciable amount.

    • April 1, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      We encourage conversation, though I do want to make it clear that while the survey is intended to provide evidence for future priorities and possible projects, it won’t necessarily, on its own, deliver increased frequencies on one particular route or even system-wide. Those are major changes largely affected by funding and other issues, and to put a cap on that point, we definitely know increased frequencies would be attractive and your points are well-taken about convenience.

      Onto other things, RT, remember that the point of the traffic routing plan is designed to funnel cars to lots less used because of their location in the park (not next to the zoo, museum, etc.). However, the Trolley is seen as a means to move people from those lots to attractions throughout Forest Park, from various parking lots or from transit transfer centers.

      Everyone’s comments about the branding have been noted (reminder that it is partner project with CVC, not just Metro), and feedback has been appreciated.

  43. RTBones
    April 1, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Odd. I think I had a post just go to the ether. A summary, in case it makes its way back –

    Courtney – did you ever imagine we’d have this much discussion on this?

    Jule – I concede it lets you know what to look for. But if I may borrow your word, the “silliness” could be toned down a mite. And “trolley”…that’s a travesty.

    Joe – double deckers (in the park) are a good idea. The problem is Metro finding funding for them. Also, as unique buses in the park, maintenance costs may be an issue. But it’s an interesting idea.

    Mike – I agree. First impressions often last. The 99 may be thought of as “cute” – but it doesn’t say (to an out of towner) that St. Louis takes its transport seriously. For businesses and companies looking to relocate, getting their people around is one of the considerations they look at. Business tends to value perception and image. With the prime mandate of Metro being economic development, I would hope they know that – which is why their decisions about “decorating” the 99 and the FP service boggle my mind.

    My biggest hangup with the FP service being an extension of Metro is still the headways. On a service that is intended to help relieve congestion, to my mind, you aren’t going to take many cars out of the park (or evenn really relocate them, unless you start charging in certain areas). I realize the big target is the Hampton/I64 area, I just don’t see how this helps appreciably.

  44. RTBones
    April 1, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Courtney –

    I see what happened now. I didn’t hit the “newer comments” button. My apologies for the double post.

    Before I go further, I just want to say thanks for the dialogue. Even where I don’t agree, at least I can try to see your rationale.

    Traffic…noted. That point wasn’t clear to me in the original post (or even on the map). I still maintain my position on headways, but now I understand better what you are trying to do.

    Partnership…also noted. But as a counterpoint, this thing does have Metro’s name on it. You do have a little more than a modicum of influence. Enough said.

    Thank you again for listening to me rant.

  45. mike
    April 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Joe,

    The idea of double decker buses operating in FB could be a viable added attraction and certainly could add glamour to the park’s enviornment, if Metro decides it could be feasable to operate them. It can be compared to the Loop Trolley in a sense that even though each one wouldn’t be vital players in providing overall mass transit for region, they certainly have star-power potential, which often can generate money. But that’s just mostly speculation on my part.

  46. mike
    April 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    To further clarify my previous comment: Star-power can often generate money for other businesses that cater to or utilize star-power. But again that’s pure speculation.

  47. mike
    April 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Courtney,

    I’m happy to see that increased bus frequencies would be “attractive.” But I feel it’s beyond just being attractive. I see it as a necessity especially if the goal of Metro is to attract more riders. Although you clarifed that service frequencies are contingent on fundings and “other issues”, someone could see the word attractive and feel that Metro is downplaying the importance of that issue. Metro has to provide the kind of service to give people, who can choose their mode of transportation, an incentive to want to give up the convenience of driving, to want to ride buses. So I say increased frequencies is far more than just being attractive.

    Metro should start to take a more proactive vs. a more reactive approach in their studys and plans towards making Metro a more efficient running system. Put the kind of service out there that people would want to use.

    • April 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      I apologize, I think a more appropriate term than “attractive” (unless you use it in its literal sense, to attract) would be appealing, and certainly the ideal. I was just speaking the reality of current service, at this moment. I agree with you, and your points are very valid.

  48. mike
    April 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Thanks Courtney,

    I’m signing off for the weekend, and you and everyone that’s been a part of this exciting blog, have a great weekend.

  49. Crystal
    April 2, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Attempting to go to the zoo today was the biggest hassle and traffic in Forest Park was so congested that it was pretty counter-productive! One of the most ridiculous ploys to get people to use the ‘trolley’ system which I saw no one on today. And to the cop that stopped us from parking on the street, get a life. Thanks for the inconvenience and a wasted day!

  50. RTBones
    April 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    I also got to see the Forest Park bus several times this weekend. Hard to miss, that much is certain. Every time I saw the it (perhaps four times?), the bus was empty. This was the first full weekend of the service, though. Traffic probably didn’t help matters. Traffic was snarled, to say the least, at Hampton and I-64. At least it seems they have the sense to change things up when they see the traffic plan they had isn’t working. Thanks for the link, Courtney.

  51. RTBones
    April 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    As a quick follow-up, I noticed this piece on STL Today:

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/article_7062f841-33d8-5212-bc7a-ef5193791314.html

  52. mike
    April 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    To wait 20 minutes-or longer on the trolleymobile, and paying two dollars, only to end up sitting in traffic when you probably would have reach your destination by walking or cycling long before the trolleymobile reaches it, nah-I think I’ll pass on the ride.

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