Wednesday, April 1, 2009

As St. Louis Goes, So Does Missouri

Thanks Adam for inviting me to post. I've already made my email to Senator Schmidt concerning SB 477. I cannot communicate how imperative mass transit is to a vibrant community, viable economy, and sustainable ecology.

An Open Letter to Governor Jay Nixon:

Public transit in the state of Missouri is in crisis. Most states realize that public transit is essential to building a strong regional economy. Missouri, unfortunately, continues to see public transit as a "local" (i.e. urban) issue and, worse, fails to understand the economic role public transit plays state-wide. As a result, Metro is facing a 43% reduction in service - a reduction that will have disastrous effects on the largest economy (St. Louis metro) of the the state. These effects include lost state and local tax revenues and - at the same time - increased need for state and locally-funded social services, lost economic activity, lost productivity, and more - all on a potentially massive scale. If these effects are left unchecked and the economy of the largest population center in the state allowed to sink, the effects on the state-wide economy will be catastrophic. Thus, it is imperative that the state of Missouri ensures the economic vitality of its largest urban area by FUNDING its public transit system, METRO.

Mass transit stimulates economic activity by getting people to work and school and by providing access to shopping, entertainment venues, childcare, and medical facilities. It provides opportunities to participate for sections of the population that would otherwise be left out of both the economy and the community. Mass transit provides access to libraries, museums, community centers, churches and other places that increase social capital of the entire region. Public transit systems attract quality employers AND the quality citizens who work for these employers. In short, mass transit improves the quality of life of all citizens - even those who do not directly use the system regularly such as myself. It is the backbone of a strong economy and a viable community.

Other states provide as much as HALF of public transit funding for their metropolitan areas. The state of Missouri needs to step up to the plate and fund Metro to ensure economic viability of the St. Louis metro region and, ultimately, the state. It is unfortunate the prejudiced attitude and lack of understanding of many of Missouri's residents concerning the need for mass transit. Worse, this attitude often extends to those in positions of power. The petty maneuvering and refusals to work together for the common good continue to prevent St. Louis and the state from living up to its significant potential. It is time to lead by example and demand that agencies work together and shift funding from one-time projects that offer little return or benefit only a select few to long term investments in infrastructure for the common good: an efficient, reliable mass transit system serving the major metropolitan area of the state and its outlying suburban communities. Every successful urban area in the US has such a system. And every state with a successful urban area benefits economically statewide. Will St. Louis and Missouri join the ranks of these successful regions or continue to lag in economic development, opportunity, quality of life, and community cohesiveness? Will ignorance, prejudice, and petty rivalry continue to keep St. Louis and Missouri in the realm of the "flyover" or will educated leadership create a vibrant community that lures the best companies and citizens to the region? I can only hope for the best. You can make it happen. Thank you.

Lori Allen
Maplewood, MO.


  1. Great letter Lori. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Thanks Lori. I have emailed and am hoping.
    In St. Charles Co., public transportation has been a non-issue for too long.
    If we are really serious about building a green economy and thus helping our planet, this has to be a large component of our future.
    The poor, elderly, non-car users, and our state are the losers. I think our politicians need to visit some other states where they have successful public transport and find out that it works and works well.

  3. Thanks for sharing this letter. Lori, can you comment further on SB477 for those of us not familiar?