Officials irked by slow progress securing St. Louis transit
CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — St. Louis County Council members have expressed frustration with the sluggish progress to fix Metro’s safety problems, despite an official’s insistence that security on the St. Louis region’s public transportation system has improved.
On Tuesday, Taulby Roach, executive director of the Bi-State Development Agency, presented a timeline of transit security improvements to the council, which provides the bulk of Metro’s funding, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County entered an agreement with Metro officials in 2017 to set up a task force to police the light rail system. But a lack of oversight has led to problems with the agencies working together, and some council members said they’re disheartened that Metro officials are still studying how to improve security nearly two years after the agreement.
The council learned last fall that the entities can’t even talk to each other because police in the city and St. Louis County switched to a new radio system that Metro security officers don’t use.
Roach told the council that police and Metro officers have addressed the issue and can now talk to each other on a point-to-point system. But he said the radio communications have setbacks because they aren’t run through a dispatcher.
Roach said the Metro system has increased patrols so that security is more visible. Metro Executive Director Jessica Mefford-Miller said she has recently received feedback that riders are noticing the beefed-up patrols.
Mefford-Miller also noted that the system’s relationship with police has improved.
The council voted in September to withhold $5 million in funding until there is an improvement in safety on the Metro system. Metro has not yet asked for the council to release those funds.
The city’s light-rail system and buses have seen a 20 percent drop in ridership over the last five years, which officials have attributed in part to serious crime. Meanwhile local officials have been looking into a new $667 million north-south line.