Leading Change: Citizens for Modern Transit

By Krystin Arneson
In Culture

St. Louis transit is a tricky issue: It’s a regional system affecting people in the city and funded largely by the state, says Citizens for Modern Transit Executive Director Kim Cella. Because St. Louis city and county, as well as Illinois-side metros, intertwine, effective transit must be collaborative. And there’s major incentive for it in a region working to become attractive: Cella cites studies that show millennials and baby-boomers prioritize public transit for livability.

Kim Cella, Executive Director

Kim Cella, Executive Director

The conundrum is: Does good transit yield riders, or do riders yield good transit? CMT is tackling both sides. A comprehensive system would help develop underserved areas and economic growth by providing job access. According to Metro, 95 percent of jobs are accessible with transit, “But some of those trips take an hour or hour-and-a-half one-way,” says Cella. “That’s not reasonable.” “Try and Ride,” a program kicked off in January, where participants are given free transit for one month and pay for the second, has more than 27,000 alums. CMT surveys show 70 percent continue to ride, citing cost savings, less stressful commutes and weight loss. Now, it’s time to lobby at the state level. “State funding is the keyhole,” Cella says.

This story was featured in the November 2015 issue.

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