Public transit goes well beyond the ride. It provides accessibility to jobs, education and healthcare. It promotes social equality. It positions the region for growth. It promises economic return.
Each of these declarations underscores the difference transit is making in our local communities. It’s also what has fueled Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT), the region’s transit advocacy organization, since it was established in 1985 to help bring light rail to St. Louis.
Since then, CMT has grown to represent more than 22,000 constituents, including transit riders, major employers, academic institutions and labor and community organizations. Our organization has played an important role in many of our regional transit system’s major milestones.
These include helping to break ground on the first MetroLink alignment, rallying voters around a sales tax increase for transit in both 1994 and 2010, launching a feasibility study for the Cortex MetroLink Station, raising more than $10 million in grant funding to establish and maintain programming to increase public transit ridership, and so much more.
CMT serves as a strong and effective voice on transit-related matters and is continually working to establish, support and enhance programming and initiatives to help further public transportation in the St. Louis region.
While CMT does not own or operate the local transit system – that’s Bi-State Development’s role and they work diligently to deliver on their mission each and every day – we support and champion transit and are strong advocates to help ensure improvements are made.
Advocacy is one of those things that you know the effect of when it is absent, kind of like integrity. It’s difficult to concretely define integrity, but you know immediately when it is missing. When you don’t have advocates making sure the importance of public transit is understood by civic leaders, elected officials, and the community at large, the opportunity to fund, improve and expand public transit could be missed.
CMT is committed to making sure that our region does not miss this opportunity. And even though it can be heavy lift, our membership is up to the challenge.
CMT has one mission and that is to see public transit be all that it can be.
June McAllister Fowler is chair of the Board of Directors of Citizens for Modern Transit.