County council to withhold millions in Metrolink funding until progress made on safety concerns

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. - The St. Louis County Council says it will withhold millions of dollars in security funding for MetroLink until the St. Louis County police and Bi-State Development show progress on fixing safety problems that are keeping riders away.

According to the county council, the partnership between the BSD and the St. Louis County police is just not working. The council is proposing to keep half of the $10 million funding split between the two groups until they can prove what the council calls "collaboration and communication."

“Perception is reality and the perception in our region is metro is not safe,” said Ernie Trakas, St. Louis County Council. “This is a way to incentivize and motivate those two entities to come together, let’s talk through and see what’s the best way to move forward.”

St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar says the county, city, and St. Clair County police are working with Bi-State Development and have increased communication. The 2017 to 2018 stats show crimes are down across the board on MetroLink. While ridership is down three straight years, Belmar says the perception of safety shouldn’t be politicized.

“The trend line is down. That’s the message. I think we need to get out and walk away from messages. Well, 50 yards away from a Metro stop something bad happened, therefore they point to Metro,” Belmar said.

"We welcome the concern and support from the St. Louis County Council on this critical security issue. We need to emphasize, however, that if the county council does not approve funding for transit operations soon, delivery of transit services in St. Louis County will definitely be impacted," said John Nations, CEO of Bi-State Development.

The council expects the two sides to come before them within 90 days with a report of progress. If they do not see progress they say they will be proactive in looking at other options.

Chief Belmar adds that all three police agencies and the BSD will be on the same police radio frequency which can help and that officers on both sides of the river are doing a terrific job without a closed transit system.