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Transit is a Focal Point for Placemaking

 During its “Talking Transit” event held Wednesday, April 26, Citizens for Modern Transit highlighted how transit is a focal point for placemaking, which is an emerging concept that transforms places people simply pass through in route to their next destination – like MetroLink Stations and MetroBus Stops – into active, engaging corridors that connect individuals and neighborhoods. The virtual gathering underscored the value and impacts of placemaking projects, before featuring the success of four “Transit Stop Transformation” Projects in the St. Louis region.

The discussion was led by Vedran Dzebic and Anna Crider from the branding and environmental design firm Entro, which uses design to connect people to places. They spoke about the art, science and value of placemaking, including new research showcasing the positive return on investment for placemaking interventions. Ken Sharkey from St. Clair County Transit District, Sheila Holm from AARP St. Louis, and Laura Miller from the City of Maplewood then showcased four “Transit Stop Transformation” projects successfully implemented to date in the St. Louis region. Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Citizens for Modern Transit, served as the moderator.

Entro explained transit placemaking strategies and impacts for improving passenger experience, before showcasing projects completed in Pennsylvania and Ottawa in Canada. Dzebic explained, “Placemaking gives space an identity or meaning which establishes connections, creates memorable or delightful experiences and peak moments. At transit stops, placemaking is said to make the space 39% more exciting, 31% friendlier, 21% healthier, 19% cleaner and 25% more likely for people to use as part of their commute.”

Download Entro’s presentation here.

Sharkey, Holm, Miller and Cella then highlighted the success of the implementation of the placemaking concept in the local marketplace through “Transit Stop Transformation Projects.” Transformations have been completed at a MetroBus stop in Maplewood in June 2020, the Emerson Park Transit Center in East St. Louis in August 2021, the Belleville Transit Center in Belleville in June 2022 and the North Hanley Transit Center in St. Louis County in October 2022. Each has turned expansive concrete areas into interactive space boasting community themes, vibrant colors, seating, shading, lighting, greenery and elements of play that encourage community. These projects showcase a deep understanding of and commitment to equitable development around transit, the impact and possibility of play, the ability for creative interventions to produce long-term impact in neighborhoods that are accessible for residents of all ages, and the need for collaboration to succeed. These four transformations alone have generated an additional $13.5 million in investment at these stations with more to come.

“What we are doing is making a difference and is getting national recognition, especially within AARP,” said Holm. “The work has been elevated, held up as a best practice and encouraged to be done in other areas throughout the country.”

A fifth project is currently underway at the 5th & Missouri Transit Center.

CMT hosts quarterly “Talking Transit” events to keep members, elected officials, stakeholders, transit riders and others in the loop on issues and efforts influencing the local transit system. These educational gatherings feature guest speakers and panel discussions addressing a wide range of topics, including transit-oriented development, safety and security, best practices, service changes and more.

To watch the event, click here.

To download the Transit Transformation booklet, click here. 

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