MetroLink Ridership High, Numerically Speaking Of Course
Metro, via the Post-Dispatch, is reporting that MetroLink ridership is exceeding expectations since opening six months ago. This is a good thing, obviously, but major fiscal troubles still face Metro in the near future:
Metro faces a $28 million operating deficit next summer, partly due to the $14 million to $15 million in operating costs associated with the Shrewsbury line. Fares cover only about a third of that cost.
Metro has asked that state for a significant increase in funding, and that is not going to happen. They may get a gasoline tax exemption, which would save Metro a few hundred thousand dollars a year, but that is likely the most Metro can realisticly expect from Jefferson City. In order to make up the shortfall, St. Louis County voters can expect to see a tax increase on the ballot late this year or early next year. I predict the tax increase will fail – though I will probably vote for it, and I vote for tax increases about as often as Tom Niedenfuer comes through in the clutch. If and when the tax increase fails, serious cuts to bus service can be expected, and that cycle will more or less continue until bus service is a shell of its former self. My generally positive opinion toward Metro and MetroLink could change drastically though if the train is late Sunday and I am late to the tournament game at the Dome, though. Go Salukis!, and yes, I am a complete fair-weather fan when it comes to Southern Illinois.