For the past several years, I have served on the Citizens for Modern Transit Board of Directors, an advocacy organization for mass transit. During this period, I have learned a great deal about St. Louisí successful regional transit system. It is an integrated system of buses, Metro Link light rail, and Call-A-Ride vans.
For fiscal year 2008, total Metro boarding will approach 59 million. 75% of Metroís riders use it to get to work and they earn two billion dollars in annual wages in Missouri. 76% of the bus riders and 15% of the Metro Link riders donít own automobiles. Each day Metro system keeps 45,000 automobiles off of our streets and highways; thus, saving gasoline, improving our air quality, and reducing congestion, especially with the highway 64/40 construction project.
Under the new leadership of Metro, a number of improvements have been made. Personnel costs have been reduced from 71% to 66% while fuel costs have increased from $4 million in 2004 to $17 million in 2008.
I am recommending that St. Louis County residents vote "Yes" on Proposition M. The sales tax increase is one-half of 1%, only $.05 cents on a $10.00 purchase. The increased revenue will provide for the maintenance and expansion of the Metro system in St. Louis. Iím convinced that it is one of the best Metro systems in the nation.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Lowe "Sandy" MacLean is vice chancellor emeritus, University of Missouri, St. Louis, and is active in local political and community organizations, including the Grand Order of Pachyderms (GOP), a service organization for the Republican Party.