Proposition M puts public transportation on ballot
By: Kareem JohnsonPosted: 10/30/08Those casting a ballot in St. Louis County next Tuesdaywill have the chance to not only vote for our nationshighest office, but also the future of publictransportation around Saint Louis University and thegreater city area.Public transit usage in St. Louis is at 30-year-high.MetroLink's Cross County extension has exceeded expectations. Ridership system wide hasincreased by 10 percent since Interstate 64 construction began in January. While ridership is up,the cost of operating the system has increased, notably fuel prices, which have increasedsharply over the past year. Tax money for MetroLink has also decreased, leading to a deficit of $19.2 million for fiscal year 2009.If additional funding is not obtainable, MetroLink will be forced to take drastic measures tomake up that shortfall, including cutting back service, which could involve 28 of the current 60routes being cut.Other effects may include a reduction in MetroLink service, with system-wide service ending at8 p.m. Additionally, service will be curtailed inside of the Innerbelt (Interstate 170) and noservice would be available at all outside of Interstate 270. There is currently a measure to raisefares if Prop M fails in November.Prop M is a .5 percent sales tax increase for vote in St. Louis County, the second half of a .25percent sales tax, which passed in 1999 in the city of St. Louis. Together this would provide 89million dollars for the ailing transit system.At SLU, public transit users make up a small portion of commuters, with only 128 semesterpasses issued this semester, according to SLU Parking and Card Services. The passes, availableto full-time students, cost $120. Monthly passes are available to staff at $60.Anne Stevenson is a graduate student in SLU's Urban Planning and Real Estate Developmentprogram. Stevenson is regular user of mass transit and uses MetroLink to ride home,commuting from SLU to Belleville."I take the train frequently. The MetroLink system isn't very extensive yet, but I hope it will bein the future. I've been really impressed with MetroLink's performance."Stevenson, however, feels that there is room for improvement for MetroLink.
Media Credit: Keith Mokris/The University News
Metro may cut bus routes if Proposition M failsnext week.