The following letter is from Kimberly Cella, executive director, Citizens for Modern Transit.
Transit is a critical component of the St. Louis region’s transportation system. Citizens for Modern Transit, the region’s transit advocacy organization representing transit riders, major employers, academic institutions, labor unions, healthcare and civic organizations, is committed to helping ensure current and future users have a safe and secure transit system. Recent, tragic incidents indicate that the security policies currently being utilized on the MetroLink system have failed the riders.
MetroLink is a neighborhood and like every other neighborhood in the region it needs to have an effective security plan in place.
As the elected leaders of St. Louis County, St Louis City, and St. Clair County prepare for a summit to discuss MetroLink safety, CMT urges them to seriously consider a shift of operational control to their respective law enforcement agencies, and for the Bi-State Board and leadership to endorse this shift. This shared responsibility by St. Louis County police, St. Louis City police and St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department is key to improving safety, boosting public confidence and creating the secure ridership experience that should be the hallmark of our community’s public transit system. In addition to a more appropriate deployment of public safety officers, CMT suggests that forms of access control at the stations also be considered.
A safe, reliable, affordable and efficient public transportation system increases access to health care, education and employment in our region. However, the ridership experience, especially safety and security on platforms, stations, trains and buses, must be a top priority.
Ridership on the St. Louis system has declined significantly over the past several years. There needs to be action now to ensure that St. Louis County, St. Clair County and St. Louis City law enforcement agencies lead security efforts on the St. Louis transit system. Every rider on the system — whether the daily user accessing work or school or the occasional user accessing recreational opportunities — is entitled to have confidence that they will be safe on the trains.