Missouri’s public transportation options cannot keep up with demand. A 2022 assessment study says that 2,000 transit vehicles – operated by 4,500 workers – transport 156,000 bus riders daily in Missouri.

During this week’s State of Transit meeting Kim Cella, Executive Director for Citizens for Modern Transit, credited lawmakers for recognizing the importance.

“We saw record funding with the passage of HB4,” said Cella. “This, for the second year in a row, Missouri invested additional funding in transit taking us to $11.7 million in 2023. That is a 580% increase since 2021.”

Industry partners say that it’s not enough.

“Total trips would need to increase by more than 39 million annually though to meet the demand that we have out there in the state,” she added. “That would cost more than $341 million a year in additional operating dollars. We know there are service gaps in Missouri.”

About $11.7 million was used to fund public transportation in Missouri this year, amounting to a 580% increase since 2021. The problem is transportation companies are having a tough time trying to meet the need because of supply chain and labor shortage issues.

Taulby Roach is President and CEO of Bi-State Development in St. Louis. He said supply chain and labor shortage issues are having an impact.

“The results are clear and quite obvious,” Roach said. “We have been forced to even kind of reduce some of the frequency of some of our routes and our coverage. Of course, the last thing anybody wants to do, and unfortunately, those two things have affected us negatively.”

Dorothy Yeager said transportation’s core audience has changed. She is OATS Transit’s Executive Director, who said it used to be seniors going to and from medical appointments.

“They (would) go to the doctor in the morning, have lunch, go to the grocery store and go home,” said Yeager. “People don’t want that anymore. I’m amazed that nobody wants to ride the bus all day. They want to be picked up, taken to their appointment, picked up and sent home. We’re seeing that shift and trying to accommodate that. No longer is medical our number one trip purpose. It’s employment.”

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