Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Lupe has had mixed feelings about the Loop Trolley.   But now she is against it.

She liked the idea of it because it was quaint and cute and it would have been nice to have a ride from the Deballivere Metrolink stop all the way to the Library and City Hall, instead of walking or waiting for the bus at the Loop or Skinker/Wash. U. train stations.

Because, seriously, Saint Louis and Saint Louis County are so RIDICULOUS when it comes to public transportation.  Thirty years ago it took twenty minutes, sometimes less, to go from Manchester and Big Bend in Maplewood to the University City library by bus.  And that was ONE bus.

Now it takes an hour, at least, and that is IF you make all the connections in a timely fashion and don't mind a hustle.  Or if you don't mind riding the slowest, most circuitious bus ride ever (the number 2), which only runs once an hour. Unless you are willing to walk down to the Maplewood metrolink.* (Lupe feels so sorry for old people and disabled in this city that do not have cars.)

The Trolleys won't be under the governance of the Metrolink and Bi-State.  But even if they were, we have already seen who really runs public transit.   Most especially from the decision to turn the train toward Shrewsbury, to court the "red and blue" riders-- those people that already have cars and only ride the subway to go to Cardinals baseball games (red) or Blues hockey games (blue), instead of turning it the places that need it the most- like the poor, urban South and North sides? Not helpful and kind of racist.**

Trust Lupe, the buses are actually worse now than ever, especially in the counties, now that the Metrolink has been installed. The tracks it runs on were for the most part established in the early 1900's to deliver goods like coal and food to train depots.  The tracks do not reflect current city centers and hubs.

So back to the Trolleys: Saint Louis County has relinquished responsibility for the stretch of Delmar between Limit and Big Bend.  Why? Those Trolley cars don't have engines.  They can only run on 1900's style overhead electric lines.  (Joe Edwards bought the cars with his own money from Italy somewhere.)

The entire street will have to be ripped up and tracks put in, and the overheard line.  And then maintained. How much is that going to cost? Who is going to pay for it? Joe Edwards? Wash U?  Well, one thing is for sure, it won't be Saint Louis County!

And if Joe Edwards and Wash. U. pay for the Trolley, who is going to be allowed to ride it?  There is already an (unsubstantiated) rumor that Wash. U. "Bear" meal cards are being accepted at restaurants in the Loop.  More and more, the Loop is less and less a place for everyone.

"Regular" citizens and businesses that don't fit the University scheme, or the Joe Edwards Blueberry Hill/Moon Hotel/Pageant businesses, are being edged out with all this "development."

When Lupe went to the Wonder Women screening the other night she really saw the trolley parked in front of the Museum for the first time.  (Of course, she walks by the one parked in the Commerce Bank parking lot everyday.)  But for some reason, that night, she really saw it.

It is tiny. Inefficient. And archaic.

Who are these streetcars for?  These two trolley cars might fit 25 people each.  (And these trolley car seats were made for 20th Century Italian butts, not 21st Century butts, if you know what Lupe is saying. )

And if the Trolley operators have to choose non-students or non-beer drinking and cheeseburger eating patrons-- it seems likely that some sort of "selection" process might be installed.  (It seems unlikely that the Trolleys will be open to underage black teenagers. At least after sundown.)

Will one be required to have a student I.D? Or a receipt from Blueberry Hill? And what if one of these archaic cars breaks down? Or there is a power outage? How is this going to affect Loop traffic? How is this going to affect the already tiresomely slow buses in the Loop?

These Trolleys are not about improving public transit in the Loop.

It really bothers Lupe that ALL of the bus benches and covered bus stops have been removed in the Loop.  Metro and Bi-State don't get to decide where the bus stops go. The cities and counties and neighborhoods decide. (It is not about where the bus stop would best serve the people riding it, but about where the bus stop is least troublesome to business owners.)

So when the Loop Special Business District (pretty much owned and run by Joe Edwards) decides that the bus benches allow too many panhandlers to sit down, they must go! To heck with all the bus riders going to and from work and shopping, etc!  The Loop is not about getting public transit IN, it is about keeping panhandlers OUT!

And in the Loop, the Chuck Berry statue got his own crosswalk. A statue. And right between the crosswalks for Leland and Westgate. But down at Limit and Eastgate, where a crosswalk is actually needed for pedestrians, there is not chance.  Only Wash. U. and Joe Edwards have enough pull to get the City of Saint Louis or U. City to give up the parking spaces.

(Wash. U.'s new development might get a crosswalk in there, now. Hopefully with a sign or even a light.  From Westgate to Skinker there is only crosswalk- and it is at the Tivoli. Truly shameful.)

That $25 Million grant from the government for the Loop Trolley seems wrong.  The grant was meant to promote "livability".  It was meant for downtown, urban areas.  (Obama might need to rethink this plan, too.)

The Loop is only becoming more "livable" to Wash. U. students and Blueberry Hill beer drinkers. Wash. U. has been able to subsidize (read: "Buy") several of the Loop area bus lines.  The ridiculous Green Line, for instance.  A line very rarely ridden and helpful to almost no one-even the students it attempts to serve! (Please, audit it yourself and see. It goes nowhere and almost no one rides it after the first time they try it. It is faster to walk the route to wherever you are going.)

The Number 2 bus line was also RIDICULOUSLY re-routed to serve Wash. U. students and make sure they could get from campus to the Clayton Schnucks, Galleria and Brentwood Promenade.  It is the most exhausting bus ride on the Southern Delmar Divide. ***

(After almost 3 years of riding public transportation in Saint Louis city and county, Lupe has really come to the conclusion that not one single person that plans the routes actually ever rides the bus or trains.  She thinks they type in routes on Google maps and make up the timetables and routes from that.  The buses all have the same time between stops whether it is rush hour on Wednesday or Sunday morning.  It is just something they do in an office all day. She wishes the Metro executives were forced to commute on their silly routes and schedules!)

Lupe is sorry, because they are cute trolley's, but really, when one thinks about it, it is ridiculous! All of that construction for two little trolley cars, to be paid for with the extra tax in University City (that is why we pay almost ten cents on the dollar for sales tax here in University City.  We are paying for the Trolley when we shop anywhere in U. City-- the highest rate in Saint Louis city or county! Lupe sure is tired of that!) but it does not seem that everyone is going to benefit equally!

Lupe is against the Trolley Folly! Unless there are some changes to the plan! 

C U in the Loop! Hopefully a "Trolley Free" Loop!

*Truly one of the most badly designed, and least safe train stops in the world.  The Maplewood Metrolink station.  It should get a Worst Design Ever award! 

Go look yourself-- no crosswalk, a blind spot to oncoming traffic, and not convenient or safe! Who on earth designed this thing? Human hating Reagan-era aliens from the movie They Live?  Haha let's kill them while they try to catch their bus! No, really. Not kidding. Go look at it. It was designed by those metal headed aliens. There is no other feasible explanation!

Lupe has a whole other post in her drafts folder about the Folly of the Saint Louis transportation system.  That is, the re-routing of all the buses to take you to the train-- a train that is running on a track system meant for coal and food deliveries and routed before planes and trucks became the transporters of food.  Those tracks go nowhere convenient, as anyone that has had to walk the dark, unpaved back alleys of the Brentwood Promenade stop to Trader Joe's.  Or walked through the deserted, "waiting to rape and mug you" parking lots between the train in Maplewood and Wal-mart, Olive Garden, Lowe's etc. 

**Not too mention the all out fight the white residents of Saint Peters and Saint Charles engaged in to keep the train from coming to their neighborhoods! "Keep them out so they don't ruin it like Hazelwood" one man Lupe used to work for actually said to her.  No, he didn't know who Lupe really was.  Lupe is totally ninja undercover in her Clark Kent. OMG the things she hears when people think they are talking to "average white suburban girl".

*** Remember, Wash. U. has been allowed to buy a lot of real estate in the Loop area, but they don't pay the same as homeowner's and business owners in taxes. They do attempt to supplement this with donations to the U.C. Fire and Police departments, and by having their own Blue Light patrol cars drive around the neighborhoods where they own property.  But it is not the same. They have a lot of power, and perhaps they have made the neighborhood better in some ways-- but neither they nor any Loop businesses or the University City or Saint Louis governments are doing anything to close the disparity between the $32,000 a year income gap between the North side of Delmar and the South side of Delmar. 

Also they have been capricious in the past.  Lupe has a friend that was evicted three times in a one year period where Wash. U. would buy the building he was living in, everyone was evicted and given thirty days to move out.  Three times he went through this until he moved out of the neighborhood.  And only one of those building is still owned by Wash. U.  Really, not fair.

No comments: