Metro transit depends on Proposition A

The benefits of public transportation are many: it creates green jobs, decongests the roads and highways, enhances city infrastructure and accessibility, and, for those that can rely on public transportation entirely, keeps them from dumping money into car insurance, gasoline and maintenance.

We know this, and we’ve long rued St. Louis’s lack of a decent light rail system. MetroLink is fine if you want to go to Laclede’s Landing or to the airport or frolic about across the river, but it’s expensive, and doesn’t provide access to many St. Louis neighborhoods and landmarks, like the Botanical Gardens, the Cherokee/Lemp district, Dogtown, Soulard and Lafayette Square. Metrolink’s well-being declined even further in 2008, when St. Louis failed to approve a half-cent tax increase to sustain it and fund other projects. Fares went up, jobs were cut, the city suffered.

Now again with the April 6 elections, we have the chance to provide necessary funding to the distressed public transit system by voting “Yes” on Proposition A, a second go at that half-cent tax increase for St. Louis County. This wouldn’t just benefit MetroLink, either. The bus system, which had some service cut after the last measure failed to pass, would be given funding, as well. So would Call-A-Ride, a service for senior citizens who can’t drive themselves.

Opponents of the measure cite MetroLink’s irresponsible use of funds in the past, as well as the fact that expanding light rail requires millions of dollars that could be better used to beef up bus transit. However, not funding MetroLink would do more harm than good: already, jobs and service are threatened, and failing to provide funding would deal a possibly fatal blow to the St. Louis transit system.

For those of us who live in the county, we are able to actually vote on the issue, but even those of us unable to cast our ballots can make our voices heard.

There are several actions already being taken: both Saint Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis have coalitions of students working to push the issue on voters. Wash. U students have pioneered the City Tracks Soundtracks music festival, which aims to promote Proposition A. This outpouring of support from city and county residents alike shows the importance of the issue, how necessary MetroLink is for all of us, especially students.

Even if we can’t vote in the April 6 elections, we can urge our professors and peers to do so, and turn out to these events in support of Prop. A. Let’s make our voices heard.