ST. LOUIS – Thursday marked a milestone for sweeping MetroLink security changes.

Metro put out a call for bids to install new gates and fences that will allow only ticketed riders onto train platforms, as opposed to the current open platform system.

There’s another big change coming. These changes are coming fast.

By spring 2024, you may be watching trains come and go from behind locked gates unless you have a ticket. Eventually, you’ll be able to use tickets loaded on a phone app to swipe and get through the gates. Police in Metro’s real-time camera center will be watching through the new network of smart surveillance cameras.

“Look folks, we’ve ordered gates. They are coming,” said Taulby Roach, president and CEO of Bi-State Development. “I think that’s a big piece of news for the St. Louis transit community.”

The Washington Park MetroLink Station and three others in Illinois will be the first to see the changes. All 39 stations on the 46-mile line should be ready by the end of 2025 as part of the Secure Platform Plan.

“We are committed to this project and it’s happening,” Roach said.

The new gate technology is only part of it. There’s also that new smart surveillance camera technology. That part is already going in, with the number of camera positions doubling from about 900 to about 1800.

“That means using all of these screens and these assets so that at any point, in any corner of our transit system, we will see you,” Roach said. “I want customers to not only feel safe on transit, I want them to feel comfortable, as if this is a place where they can open a book and read it on their train or bus.”

That kind of security comes with a $52 million price tag, but more than 20% of it, close to $11 million, is private funding from regional businesses.

Minneapolis is looking at similar changes and may now be looking to St. Louis for inspiration.