As we wrap up Fiscal Year 2016 at Citizens for Modern Transit, we can’t help but highlight some of the successes we’ve seen this year as an organization and for transit in this region. More than three decades ago CMT began its mission to build broad-based community support for light rail in the St. Louis area. 2016 was no exception as our efforts continued to create and promote transit opportunities statewide, regionally, locally and for individuals.
A few highlights from this year include:
- Securing management of the statewide Missouri Public Transit Association;
- Ensuring the public’s confidence in the St. Louis transit system’s safety through the allocation of additional resources from St. Louis County;
- Public discussions with elected officials and key stakeholders on the next transit priority for the region and funding sources to move that project forward;
- Commissioning a study to look at placemaking around three MetroLink stations;
- Supporting efforts to further study MetroLink expansion;
- Encouraging a record number of area residents to give transit a try through unique programming like our Try & Ride Program;
- Record membership levels in the organization topping our membership goal by 16 percent;
- Record levels of participation in events including the CMT Great Race, the CMT Transit Crush and Metro Markets;
- Exceeding all earned media levels in the past year;
- Introduction of new programs to increase transit ridership and awareness including Try and Ride for academic trips, statewide Educational series, and Rosa Parks event on transit and equity;
- Achieving goals outlined in the OneSTL report; and
- Recognition including runner up for the St. Louis Regional Chamber Argus Award and CMT Executive Director named WTS Woman of the Year 2016.
Our goal is, and will continue to be, promoting the use of public transit, building support within the community for transit, and providing the community with opportunities to discuss and explore future transit priority projects and funding.
This year, CMT events sold out time and time again including our upcoming Annual Meeting on Sept. 1. CMT members and friends demonstrated their desire to participate in events surrounding the St. Louis transit system ensuring transit continues to move forward in this region.
So where do we go from here? The ever looming question of financing for transit hangs over the St. Louis region and Missouri. St. Louis County voters successfully passed Proposition A, 1/2 cent general sales tax in 2010 for transit, which also triggered the 1/4 cent sales tax passed in the City of St. Louis in 1997 to begin collections. These initiatives generate about $78 million locally for transit operations and capital (65 percent of the County’s Prop. A revenues are used for operations). This is not enough.
CMT’s Transit Funding Study identified some possibilities, and FY17’s challenge will be to help the region, our elected officials and stakeholders come to a consensus on what is the region’s transit priority project(s) and the necessary funding source(s) to move those projects forward. Right now, there are RFQ’s on the street to further examine the corridors that were identified decades ago for light rail expansion. Which of the options should be prioritized for the region? Where should resources go if funding for public transit infrastructure becomes available?
CMT’s “job one” is to find a funding mechanism which works for this region and to build much needed support for a regional project ensuring transit connects us to our communities and each other.
We know the benefits of an expanded, integrated transit system in our region include improved access to jobs and educational opportunities, greater economic development, and reinvestment in under resourced parts of our community. We will continue to move the transit discussion forward in this region, advocating for good public transit, including the next priority project and funding mechanism to make that project a reality, and demonstrating to the residents of St. Louis they need transit whether they ride it or not.
And Here’s What You Can Do in 2017
As we head into 2017, CMT will be focusing its efforts on these two fronts – funding and prioritization of transit projects for the region. We will continue to keep our members and friends updated and advocate for the best possible options. In the meantime, you can:
- Contact your local and state elected officials about the importance of transit and how transit projects can and will move this region forward. Use CMT’s talking points to help craft your message.
- Join or increase your membership level with CMT to be informed, show your support, and help move transit forward.
- Join CMT at its events to participate in the discussions, celebrate transit and its benefits in the region.
- Ride transit and bring your friends on board.
We are honored to partner with you to improve the St. Louis Region with transit in 2017. We would not have the opportunity as an organization to achieve the highlights above without the support our members, friends and volunteers. Thank you!