The St. Clair County Transit Board voted on Feb. 20 to allocate an additional $125,000 to fund the hiring of three additional St. Clair County Sheriff’s deputies to help cover expanded MetroLink patrols to the Missouri side of the river. The allocation, at Sheriff Richard Watson’s request, would increase the number of deputies to 12 with new deputies spending about half their time along the MetroLink in the City of St. Louis.
The vast majority of St. Clair County MetroLink users take the train to destinations on the Missouri side including employment, Cardinals games and other recreational events.
According to the St. Clair County Transit Board Chair Richie Meile, this move will help maintain ridership on the system. Ridership on MetroLink has declined more than 13 percent over the last four years.
While agreements between St. Louis City and St. Clair County need to be worked out, Watson hopes to begin expanded patrols by May of this year.
Efforts have been underway to improve safety and security on MetroLink since May of 2017 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed among the area elected officials from the City of St. Louis, St. Clair County and St. Louis County and the CEO of Bi-State/Metro.
Objectives outline in the MOU accomplished to date include:
- Setting up of a Joint Task Force headed by St. Louis County Police
- New police headquarters along the alignment on Delmar
- Formation of an advisory committee
- Full-scale MetroLink safety audit led by East-West Gateway underway
- Increase in the number of uniform police officers on the system including St. Louis County and St. Clair County officers
- CMT also launched the Safetrek app for transit commuters in the St. Louis region which provides an extra security blanket while riding transit.
“We commend St. Clair County on their leadership on this issue. We have seen a direct reduction in actual crimes on the IL side of the system with an increase in St. Clair County deputies on the trains. We know expanding their patrols to City stations will ensure the safety and security of riders on the St. Louis system,” said Kim Cella, CMT executive director.