Ahead of the St. Louis Primary Election on March 2, The St. Louis American is asking a series of questions of the candidates for mayor of the city of St. Louis. Following are their responses.
What do you see as the biggest challenges to public transit needs and what would you do to address them?
Our biggest challenge to public transit was really underscored by the recent tragic killing of security guard James Cook at the Delmar MetroLink station. We need a safer transit system with coordinated, collaborative security.
The recent WPS study commissioned by East West Gateway outlined 99 recommendations, most of them related to safety and security. As mayor, I will be committed to putting these recommendations into place. That includes consistent fare and rule enforcement, security cameras, and most importantly — a strategic security program with a defined entity responsible for security throughout the public transit system.
We need to be done with the finger pointing, define where the buck stops and answer to the 71% of public transit riders who want to see more security on our system.
Andrew T. Jones
I feel we are meeting the minimum for the city’s transportation needs and we need to continue to work to better meet the requirements of those needing transportation to work, shop, doctor visits and other needs.
There are areas of concern that severely limit the delivery of optimal service to residents. The three primary challenges involve safety, declining ridership and optimal routing.
The general welfare of drivers and passengers is put in danger when riders either don’t pay or harass fellow passengers. In some instances, guns have been displayed. The ramifications are numerous and broad.
I will coordinate with Bi-State and the city’s Public Safety director to boost our security presence on vehicles. The concentration should be focused on routes with the highest frequency of problems. We will explore options with Bi-State to best utilize funds made available through opportunities like the Economic Development Sales Tax authorized by voters in 2017.
Tishaura O. Jones
Currently, there are too many in our city who do not have access to the reliable public transportation that they need to get to work, the grocery store, or the doctor's office. We must work with partners at the state and federal levels to bring back more funding for Metrolink expansion and the expansion of our bus routes.
I have tackled this issue head-on as treasurer and worked to fund the North-South Metrolink study so that we can get back in the pipeline for federal funding. I have been in various fellowships with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and I look forward to working with him, and our partners in St. Louis County and other regional leaders, to improve transit.
Reliable public transit is also strengthened by equitable development planning. We have to build grocery stores and other neighborhood necessities in places St. Louisians can easily access by public transit or walking. You should have access to quality public transit no matter the neighborhood you live in, and as mayor, this will be one of my top priorities."
One challenge is funding a quality service at an affordable price. Accumulating the funding necessary and the implementation time needed to build the mass transit infrastructure sometimes takes so long that the design plan being funded becomes outdated.
For example, Metrolink expansion could be great for the city. Currently, there is no source pinpointed to pay for it in its entirety and it would take years to build. By the time it could be built, will this be the smartest option then? Or should we consider an option that may be implemented faster, like more and better bus routes?
In the end, we need fast, frequent, affordable service that ties into the bike lane system and allows people to get to work, access medical care, or shop for essential needs without owning a car. I will work with the community and our service providers to build that type of system.