Trip Report: St. Louis MetroLink

On my way home from Kansas City I stopped overnight in St. Louis, mainly because MetroLink has built two extensions since I was last there. Stayed at the Drury Hotel near Union Station, very nice conversion of the old railroad YMCA. All hotels in downtown St. Louis seem expensive, but at least this one is a very comfortable place with helpful staff, a fine breakfast, and good usable Internet computer in the lobby.

Metrolink is really nice as a railfan experience and as a transit service. On my trips trains were always fast, always pretty much on time, rode well, never excessively crowded. One shortcoming is the noise level, which isn’t much less than Chicago’s ‘L’. The high level of “security,” mainly Securitas contract guards, made me very uncomfortable. Securitas staff even handled the one fare-check that I experienced, so I suppose they are able to issue fines or summonses. There were also some uniformed Metro “public safety” staff.

Everybody was very friendly, except one Securitas guy who decided that I could not take a picture of a Union Pacific train while standing on a MetroLink platform.

It is curious that MetroLink has a long extension into Illinois, all the way to Scott Air Force Base. Much of this distance is thru rural areas, there’s apparently not much ridership, presumably there’s a political story to why it was built. But going there is great as a railfan experience, 55 mph thru woods and over creeks, few stations to interrupt the pace.

Took a walk thru downtown St. Louis. There doesn’t seem to be much commerce there anymore, just a lot of old buildings being converted to residential, and some government offices. MetroLink does go to Clayton, a major suburban office center, where there is a public washroom at the bus terminal. To a Chicagoan, this is an impressive amenity.

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