St. Louis Plans More Transit Spending


The Shiloh-Scott extension added 3.5 miles to St. Louis’ light-rail system in 2003, yet St. Louis transit carried 4.5 percent fewer bus and rail riders in 2004 than it had carried in 2002.

As an op-ed article in the St. Louis Business Journal points out, buses carried 40.3 million riders in 1993, before the region’s first light-rail line opened. In 2019, buses and light rail together carried just 36.1 million riders. Spending money on transit capital improvements in St. Louis is a lost cause.

The op-ed also points out that just 4.4 percent of low-income workers in the St. Louis area take transit to work while the other 95.6 percent pay regressive sales taxes to support transit rides they rarely if ever take. The real problem St. Louis transit faces is that it can’t find enough bus drivers to operate the system it has. Instead of spending hundreds of millions or billions on new transit lines, the city should spend a small fraction of that attracting more drivers.

This piece first appeared at The Antiplanner.

Randal O’Toole, the Antiplanner, is a policy analyst with nearly 50 years of experience reviewing transportation and land-use plans and the author of The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future.

Photo: Matthew Black, via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.