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Have you taken a ride on the new MetroLink route yet?
Thousands of area residents tried it out on opening weekend. If you were among them, did you check it out because youíre planning to use MetroLink or did you ride it as a lark?
Many probably fall into the latter category. Weíre proud St. Louis is among the growing number of U.S. cities with light rail, but we really donít plan to use MetroLink much.
Sound like you? I hope not, because light railís promises are too good to pass up. Here are just a few:
1. Light rail reduces pollution. Car emissions accounts for up to 60% of urban pollution.
2. It cuts our nationís use of oil, nearly half of which goes to fuel our cars.
3. It eases traffic congestion. At rush hour a full train removes 125 cars from highways.
No wonder dozens of U.S. cities have light rail and many more are planning it. Light rail ridership nationwide is surging, especially among those who own 2 or more cars. The storyís been the same here, even before the new MetroLink line opened.
This is an exciting trend. This means St. Louisans are conquering their car addictions and looking for a new way to get around.
Now many of us canít commute on MetroLink Ė especially if we live or work far from a station. But we can try it out occasionally, like when we go downtown to a ballgame or restaurant, when we shop along Brentwood, when we attend an urban art fair, or when weíre going to Lambert Field. We may find that taking the train is handier than we thought, especially when Highway 40 construction begins.
Will MetroLink deliver on all of its promises? That depends in large part on you and me.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Liz Forrestal is Executive Director for Missouri Votes Conservation, a non-profit that advocates for pro-environmental legislation in Missouri. She also participates in a number of community environmental groups, and is a board member of Audubon Missouri.