Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun)

As KMOX reported today (see: Records Reveal Feud Over MetroLink Train Safety), local political leaders plan to discuss Wednesday how to restore confidence in the safety of the region’s light rail system. Here’s a look at what they will — and won’t — be talking about.

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — County Executive Steve Stenger says three leaders — himself, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern — have agreed on what to do about MetroLink.

“Something that’s never been done before,” he says, “and that’s cross-deputization for all three jurisdictions.”

That means an officer from, for example, St. Clair County could ride the line past Busch Stadium all the way to Shrewsbury, and be able to make arrests and write tickets. Same for St. Louis City and County officers who might ride a train cross the river.

How soon could this happen?

“Illinois will probably go first and then it will be followed by our agencies,” Stenger explains. “One of the things we discussed is how do we un-complicate what are sometimes complicated processes, so we can move quickly and immediately to address these concerns.”

There will be a MetroLink command center to take all 911 calls and direct officers, and “we also are going to have a central precinct that is going to house the task force and the task force members and that’s going to be at the Delmar Loop stop.”

Funding for this, Stenger says, will come from funds dedicated to transit and not from the county’s general taxpayer revenue. The goal is for real police officers to be visible on all trains and platforms.

The honor system, though, stays. At least for now.

In one previous interview with a KMOX reporter, Metro CEO John Nations has said their study of the topic resulted in a $200 million price tag for a more secure system with turnstiles. In another instance, he told the Post-Dispatch it would cost $100 million. County Executive Stenger said he’d been told it would cost about $10 million.

That’s a pretty big difference. So KMOX submitted Sunshine Law requests to both St. Louis County and Bi-State Development Corp., which runs MetroLink, to get a look at the documents themselves.

St. Louis County responded the next day, delivering a memo from Blue Line Security that estimated a $10 million price tag for turnstiles and facial recognition camera technology.

Metro, on the other hand, told KMOX they don’t believe they are subject to the Sunshine Law, but would try to find any applicable records anyway. That was April 20, and no records had been produced as of the airing of this story.

Nations, when asked about it by a KMOX reporter, said they looked at turnstiles many years ago in a study that’s since become out-of-date.

“I don’t have a ballpark figure for it now,” he said. “When we looked at turnstiles in the past, as people will tell you, it requires not just a turnstile system but [it’s] most effective if you have a different type of a payment system [as well].”

Metro is in the process of adding a digital ‘Gateway Card’ fare system to its stations.

Lots of agencies and officials have their hands involved with MetroLink security. Stenger hopes they’re finally all on the same page.

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Comments (2)
  1. Turnstiles, themselves, are not the big cost. The big costs are creating a secure perimeter AND paying the people to watch it, constantly. And, as long as only the police (not Metro employees) can write tickets for fare evasion, fare evasion and, now, trespassing will continue to be a “problem”!

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