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Document Type

Restricted Access Paper

Publication Date

Fall 12-5-2014


MetroLink trains travel across 46 miles of track in the Greater St. Louis region, serving 37 stations and more than 53,123 riders each day [i]. Ostensibly, the St. Louis MetroLink system is expansive and diverse. Within its deceivingly inclusive scope of ridership, however, a stark disparity in accessibility exists between the most and least advantaged. Unjust power relations in the city are obfuscated by the guise of a public transportation system, and manifest most noticeably in a MetroLink schematic that caters to those who need it the least. This is “thick injustice.” Our research is predicated upon the intuition that the St. Louis MetroLink is an inequitable transit system due to an incongruity between the route of the line and the geography of St. Louis neighborhoods, especially when considering the corresponding socioeconomic distribution. We sought to determine if the historical politics of MetroLink planning decisions and the current distributional effects—intended and unintended—confirm this intuition. The St. Louis MetroLink is an unjust transit system due to funding that favors already-wealthy areas rather than distributing capital to benefit the least well-off and most transit-dependent populations. This injustice is visible in case studies of three municipalities: University City, Clayton, and St. Louis. [i]

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