As the regional transit advocacy organization representing more than 20,000 constituents, including riders, major employers, academic institutions, labor and community organizations, Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT) is, and will continue to be, committed to advocating for a safe, secure, high-quality transit system for current and future riders in the St. Louis region.
Ridership on public transit is on a downward trend, which we can see in our region in a ridership decline of more than 10 percent over the past several years. While there can be several contributing factors to this negative ridership trend, including fuel costs and economic activity, the most troubling problem involves public confidence in the system. Unfortunately public perception and faith in the system’s safety has been seriously eroded following several tragic incidents and a security plan that has proven ineffective over the past 20 months. CMT is advocating for and is poised to assist with the development of immediate safety and security improvements, as well as a longer-term strategy of developing a regional plan for future expansion of the system. Specifically, CMT is calling for:
1. A further increase in the number of law enforcement officers on the system from St. Louis City and St. Louis County and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
2. Operational shift of security control to these law enforcement agencies. This change in the command structure is critical to improve safety, boost public confidence and create the secure ridership experience that should be the hallmark of the St. Louis transit system.
3. Cross deputization of law enforcement officers which will allow them to patrol the entire system.
4. Delineation of responsibilities for each level of security. There is a direct role for security guards on the system focused on fare enforcement before individuals board the system. Requiring users to show proof that they have a valid pass, ticket or transfer prior to boarding is a true deterrent to fare evasion.
5. Securing a multi-jurisdictional command center for the MetroLink security unit on the alignment to coordinate efforts and on-going communication.
6. An environmental design/security audit to be conducted as expediently as possible. There is no recent data in this market on the best approach to assess control on the system. The study can lay the groundwork for determining the best technology and environmental design.
“There is no single answer to the safety and security issues impacting the transit system. Agreement by the City, County and St. Clair County to tackle those issues jointly is an unprecedented show of regional collaboration that will benefit not only transit riders, but the entire region. The next step now must be a coordinated effort on the part of these elected officials and their law enforcement agencies to work with Bi-State Development and other key stakeholders to help ensure all riders, whether daily commuters or recreational riders, have confidence that they will have a safe and secure ride,” said Kimberly Cella, CMT Executive Director.