Our community faces the threat of greatly reduced MetroLink and MetroBus service that will impact students, faculty and staff in the very near future. Metro, St. Louis’ regional transit agency, is facing a $45 million revenue shortfall this year and will be forced to make drastic cuts to bus and light rail service without additional funding support.
On Tuesday, Nov. 4, registered voters in St. Louis County will have an opportunity to vote on Proposition M, a one-half cent sales tax increase.
If passed, the sales tax increase will raise $80 million annually to operate and expand our region’s transit system. The passage of Proposition M will help ensure that Metro will secure the needed funding to build additional light rail lines and to continue to meet the growing demand for bus service.
As you are aware, the Washington University community is well served by both MetroBus and MetroLink service and is one of the largest users of public transit in the region. In 2006, the University began issuing free transit passes to all students, faculty and staff through the U-Pass program. The U-Pass program has far exceeded expectations in the number of transit trips taken by University members.
During the last fiscal year, approximately 2.3 million transit trips were taken by University students and employees. The U-Pass pass program has enabled our students to become much more acquainted with the cultural, sports and entertainment venues throughout the St. Louis region. In addition, many of our students now regularly use Metro for transportation to jobs, internships and community service opportunities. These numbers clearly indicate the commitment of the Washington University community to public transit, and I am proud of our enthusiastic support.
Supporting our region’s transit system is an integral part of Washington University’s commitment to a sustainable environment. As more and more of us make use of alternative modes of transportation, including public transit, we reduce our fossil fuel consumption and improve air quality in the St. Louis area. Buses and light rail provide a “green” alternative at a time when it is most needed by the environment. The St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership deems the Metro regional transit system as one of the best options to reduce emissions in our area.
The health and vitality of the St. Louis region is important to us all. Great cities have great transit systems. Those of us who live and work here and enjoy all that the greater St. Louis region has to offer must do everything possible to support our system.
Please consider the future of our regional transit system and inform yourself about Proposition M. If you would like additional information, visit moremetrolink.com.
I plan to vote “yes” on Proposition M and hope that you will consider supporting this important proposal.
Mark S. Wrighton