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St. Louis Metro OKs FY08 operating budget, registers ridership gains

Board members at St Louis’ Metro recently approved a fiscal-year 2008 operating budget of $214.8 million. The appropriation marks the agency’s fifth-straight balanced budget despite flat or declining local sales tax revenue, according to Metro.

The agency is generating more of its own revenue by attracting more riders and increasing the farebox recovery ratio. During the first nine months of FY07, which expires Aug. 31, the agency’s farebox recovery reached 24.1 percent, a 9 percent increase compared with the same FY06 period.

And in May, Metro’s light-rail, bus and paratransit ridership exceeded 5 million passengers — the first time monthly ridership surpassed that mark in nearly a decade. MetroLink’s May rail ridership exceeded 2.2 million boardings, a 50 percent increase compared with May 2006. MetroLink’s current 98.7 percent on-time performance is one of the top such measures among U.S. transit-rail agencies, according to Metro.

Officials project Metro’s system-wide ridership will exceed 54.5 million passengers by FY07’s end, which would represent a 9.6 percent increase over FY06’s ridership of 49.1 million.

Metro also will benefit financially in FY08 from a newly enacted state law. On June 13, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill into law that exempts public transit providers from the state’s fuel. The law will reduce Metro’s annual expenses by about $1 million, said Metro President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Salci in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/18/2007