By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT) recently hosted its quarterly “Talking Transit” as a virtual forum highlighting the Secure Platform Plan being rolled out for the MetroLink System.
The Bi-State Board of Commissioners has approved a contract with HNTB for $6,948,587 to provide professional engineering services for the MetroLink Secure Platform Plan. This plan for securing MetroLink platforms throughout the system includes gates, fencing and cameras for each of the 38 Metro Transit Centers throughout the St. Louis region.
The $52 million Secure Platform Plan (SPP) has received broad support from public and private sector partners. Funding includes $17.25 million from the Bi-State Development capital funds budget and the American Recovery Plan, $12 million Bond refinancing proceeds dedicated to security, $12 million Illinois allocation from federal stimulus and $10.75 million private sector funding.
The $10-million-plus received in private donations is rare. It underscores the importance of this project and the essentialness of public transit to the future of the St. Louis Metro region.
Panelists during the October forum included Bi-State Development Project Lead and General Manager of Security Kevin Scott, HNTB St. Louis Area Practice Leader and Secure Platform Plan Project Manager Mark Grossenbacher, and Regional Business Council President and CEO Kathy Osborn. CMT Executive Director Kimberly Cella moderated the presentation and forum discussion.
Over 75 attendees took part in the forum to learn more about the Secure Platform Plan (SPP) for the MetroLink system, which aims to address the security structure of Metro Transit, in part, by creating centralized, highly secure customer entrances at all MetroLink stations.
Scott kicked off the conversation by reinforcing how safety and security have been a main priority for Metro Transit since 2019 when Bi-State Development and East-West Gateway Council of Governments partnered with consultant WSP to complete a system-wide security assessment for MetroLink.
This assessment resulted in 99 recommendations for addressing security strategy, police/security staffing procedures, fare and fare enforcement, technology and crime prevention through environmental design. Most of these recommendations have since been implemented.
The Secure Platform Plan now rolling out will address remaining items from the earlier assessment, in the categories of fare and fare enforcement, technology and crime prevention through environmental design. This SPP greatly complements what has already been put in place.
“We recognize the community’s call for a more secure system,” said Scott. “People have always questioned why the open concept system exists on MetroLink. The Secure Platform Plan will allow us to address those concerns, enhance our overall security efforts that we’ve already made enormous progress on, and show the region – and our ridership – that we are doing everything we can to regain, rebuild and prioritize their confidence in this extraordinary regional asset.”
During the virtual session, Scott pointed out some key planned safety features being incorporated into each Transit Center design.
The SPP calls for new fare gates and perimeter fencing to be installed at all 38 MetroLink stations. Centralized entrances with fare gates will be created, and once installed, these will only be activated by using a valid ticket or pass.
Beyond the gates, the fare purchasing system will be completely upgraded to include new ticket vending machines, card readers – featuring payment integration technology into mobile devices – and an update to the transit system’s closed-circuit camera program with a real-time camera system.
There will be an increase to 1,600 cameras from the current 800 currently on the system. All cameras will be equipped with the latest analog and digital technologies and built on a sound security platform that feeds into a real-time camera center for proactive viewing of locations. As a result, a fluid, “out-in-front-of” approach can be maintained.
“This is one project, but really 38 different projects,” said Scott. “With one project at each MetroLink station. This will be a phased integration approach, not just a ‘flip the switch.’
“We are moving aggressively forward, but we want to get it right,” he added. “If you take a look around the country at highly vibrant successful regions, they all have sound, safe, highly invested public transit systems, and that’s where we need to get to in St. Louis.”
Grossenbacher shared information about the project’s team with forum attendees.
HNTB, a transportation and design firm, has been hired for the design of this project in both Missouri and Illinois.
The project team includes five subcontractors, including KAI Enterprises, which will provide architectural integration of the fare collection system, fencing and other aspects of the project; ABNA Engineering, Inc., which will provide topographic surveying services as required; Kivindyo Engineering Services, LLC, which will provide utility coordination services; Custom Engineering, Inc., which will provide electrical engineering and design services; and Code Consultants, Inc., which will provide code compliance, fire protection, life safety and accessibility.
The project – including design, procurement and construction – is expected to be completed in 30 months. At the time of the forum, Grossenbacher said survey crews were out at the 38 stations gathering data that would be needed to move the design phase forward. “There’s a 30-month timeline in total, with half of that time for design, then roughly a year for construction.”
Osborn addressed the Secure Platform Plan and its importance to regional economic development, business, and industry.
“Infrastructure is very important to business. You have to get people and products around. This is an economic imperative. We have to get people to where the jobs are,” Osborn said about the implementation of CMT’s Secure Platform Plan. “From a business perspective, it’s also an equity issue. So often we have people who want jobs but they don’t have the transportation to get to the jobs. For equitable economic development, people have to have access to public transportation.”
CMT hosts quarterly “Talking Transit” events to keep the region in the loop on issues and efforts influencing the local transit system. To learn more about these events and how CMT is working to further transit access in the St. Louis region, visit www.cmt-stl.org.
This story also appears in the December 2022 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.