Metro Transit gives St. Louis County council ‘assurances’ in exchange for $128M in funding

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:10 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - On Tuesday, St. Louis County Council voted in favor of moving forward with allocating $128 million to Metro Transit after a failed vote last month.

Last month, the council didn’t get enough votes to allocate millions of dollars in funding to Metro Transit due to concerns over the transportation company’s reliability.

First Alert 4 has reported on the struggles Metro has faced recruiting employees to operate its vehicles. The labor shortage has resulted in long wait times and reduced routes.

Members of the county council requested to meet with Metro officials last month. That meeting resulted in assurances from Metro.

“If there are some upgrades to our phone system and, for instance, our scheduling software on the Call-A-Ride side, I’ve made assurances to St. Louis County and the citizens that we’re going to go ahead and make those upgrades,” Bi-State president and CEO Taulby Roach said.

Roach said Metro also hired an American with Disabilities Act specialist to assist Bi-State in its efforts to improve service. Disabilities advocates with Paraquad said they wanted more input in Metro’s decisions. Roach said Paraquad’s input is considered as well as others.

“Their solution, at the least, at this point was workable,” St. Louis County councilmember Mark Harder told First Alert 4. “They committed to taking some of that money, roughly about $200,000, and using that to correct some of these deficiencies in their system.”

Since Metro shrunk its service due to driver shortages, its partner Via has grown in service. Via is basically an Uber carpooling service for people with disabilities. But users said the service is limited because drivers aren’t always available and rides are subjected only to certain areas of St. Louis County.

Metro officials said they’re hiring more workers, and riders should expect to see an improvement in the coming months.

St. Louis County Council will give a final vote on the millions in funding next week.