As part of the focus on transportation options in the St. Louis region, CMT’s 5th annual “Great Race” Finish Line Celebration also featured a panel discussion on “Rethinking the Last Mile with CMT” at the Venture Cafe Gathering that evening.
Venture Cafe is an non-profit organization supporting the innovation and entrepreneurial community. Their flagship event, the Venture Cafe Gathering is a weekly Thursday gathering from 3-8pm, open to anyone in or interested in the innovation space. Weekly sessions inspire connecting and gathering as well as opportunities to learn through various breakout sessions.
In its latest iteration, this CMT Great Race focused on the “Last Mile” of the transit commute to raise awareness about the viable multimodal transportation options that exist, how they can be seamlessly integrated, and what further work we need to do in the St. Louis region to make alternative transportation options accessible to all users.
BUT WHAT IS THE “LAST MILE”?
In the transportation industry, “the Last Mile” refers to the distance between a major transit hub and a rider’s final destination. In the St. Louis region, the Last Mile between a transit hub like a MetroLink station or a bus transfer center and someone’s final destination (i.e., work, home, shopping, sporting event, etc.) is an area ripe with opportunity… and challenges.
The “Last Mile” includes the crucial transfers between home and transit station, transit station and home, that often present a barrier to using public transportation. But it also represents a space to integrate transit into the fabric of the community, and a place to focus development of much needed resources, services and amenities. Much more than just a way to get from Point A to Point B, transit can be an asset to the neighborhoods it runs through — even to those who don’t use it regularly.
During the event, conversations centered on the Last Mile as a place for mixed use development, as a physical space in which we can improve health and quality of life for individuals and communities, and how to activate the last mile to make transit more usable for both those who depend on it every day and for potential riders.
Panelists for the event included:
- Jessica Mefford Miller, Chief of Transportation Planning/Systems Development at Metro Transit
- Rachael Pawlak, Transportation Planner with East-West Gateway Council of Governments
- Glenn Burleigh, Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing & Opportunity Council
- Stephanie Co, Beyond Housing.
The panel concluded with break out discussion groups focused on challenges or possibilities for transit and the last mile in our region. Topics included:
- Active transportation and the last mile (led by Great Rivers Greenway)
- Affordable housing TOD & vital resources and the last mile (led by EHOC)
- Accessibility and the last mile (led by Paraquad)
- Innovative technologies and how they might help solve or exacerbate problems with traversing the last mile
“Venture Café was a great way to continue the discussion from the Finish Line Celebration on Transit and the Last Mile. Thanks to all who participated. The dialogue was robust and many ideas were shared on ways to activate the areas around the St. Louis transit system,” said Kim Cella, CMT Executive Director.