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ST. LOUIS — Commissioners for Bi-State Development voted Friday to give the agency the ability to set money aside for a plan designed to make MetroLink safer.

The agency estimates the cost of the plan at $52 million and would include creating a turnstile type system that would require a ticket purchase or pass to enter a MetroLink platform.

The system was designed as an open system, but concerns about crime have led to calls for changes. The plan would also increase fencing around tracks, stations, and platforms and the installation of monitored cameras.

A statement from Bi-State Development President and CEO Taulby Roach read, in part: “This is a new vision for public transit in St. Louis that is responsive to the needs of the public. We hope that his major improvement will be a catalyst towards system renewal and long-awaited expansion.”

Commissioner Derek Keith Cox has been vocal in calling for the changes and hopes the agency will move quickly to secure the funding to begin work.

“You don’t have a system unless it’s safe,” he said.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern all signed a letter reading in part, “This proposal would secure the system as never before envisioned through access control systems and coordinated video enhancements. This will signal to the public that Metro is committed to taking proactive steps in response to safety needs and resident concerns.”

Cox said ridership has not come close to returning to pre-pandemic levels and believes the investment will pay off. He said, “People will start riding once they feel safer and once the system is safer.”

The agency’s plan includes both private and public dollars to make the changes. Roach told commissioners some private funding has already been secured. Here’s the funding breakdown from Bi-State Development:

  • $10 million – Bond refinancing proceeds dedicated to security
  • $13 million – Illinois allocation credit due from federal stimulus
  • $16 million – Bi-State Development capital and American Recovery Plan
  • $13 million – Private sector funding

Roach told commissioners he would have a better idea of a possible timeline for the project by early next year, but estimated the project would take at least 2 years to complete.