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Mastering the Metro: The Basics

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Photo by Matthew Black. Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0, some rights reserved.

Is there somewhere you want to go but do not have a car to get there? Luckily for you, you live in a city that has a decent public transportation system. Buses and the Metro Link can help you get around the city. Using these resources may be intimidating if you have never used public transportation before, but it is not as scary as it seems. With a little research and some tips, you can be on your way to mastering the metro.

Prepare for your trip

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Visit the Metro St Louis website.

Before you go on your adventure, it is a good idea to prepare first. Try looking at the Metro Transit website. There you can find the schedules, prices and passes.

Generally, it costs about $2.00 to ride the bus one way and $2.50 to ride the train. Buses only accept cash and exact change. They do not give change, so keep this in mind. As for the Metro Link, there are kiosks at the stations where you can buy tickets for the train, as well as the bus. The kiosks accept cash or card, and they can give change.

Traveling tip: Make sure you have cash and exact change when riding the bus! The buses do not take credit or debit cards and do not give change. 

Say you want to go to the Delmar Loop from campus, and you do not want to walk over there. You can go to the Metro website and use their trip planning tool. You type in the location of where you are leaving from and the location of where you want to go, and the tool will show you  how to get there, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.

For our Delmar Loop example, one route option would take about 14 minutes in total to get to our destination. You would take the 2 [To Rock Road TC] at Wydown @ Big Bend westbound, and get off the bus at Enright @ Westgate westbound. You would, then, turn left on Westgate Avenue, and head straight until you hit Delmar!  The best part is that this trip would only cost $2.

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Screenshot of the Trip Planning Page on Metro St Louis website

 

After you figure out the cost and how to get to the place you want to go, it is time for you to ride the Metro!

Download some apps 

Here are some apps that can be helpful for you when using public transportation.

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Metro On the Go app in app store.

The Metro has their own app that is useful when traveling. It is also free, so it doesn’t hurt to have. On the app, there is a trip planner option for routes.

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Main screen in the Metro app.

They also have a next departure option where you can see when a bus or train is expected to leave/arrive. For example, you need to take the number 2 bus to the Delmar Loop, but you have no idea when the next one is supposed to be arriving. The app has a section where you can look up the arrival times of buses and the trains.  You have the option to adjust the time and day to see the departure/arrival times for a certain bus stop or train station. This is helpful for planning. The only drawback when using this function is that you need to know the name of the stop. It does not accept the stop numbers: (the numbers that are on bus stop signs). However, you can input streets names to find the stop you need from a list.

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Next Departures section in the Metro app.

One thing that can be a bit annoying when typing something in the app is that it will only let you type three characters at a time before it loads and suggests a location to you. So you have be patient and not try to type everything in at once, or you will accidentally click on a location that probably is not the one you need.

 

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Google Maps app in app store

 

Google Maps is not only for your road trips, but also for planning trips on public transportation. Just like the Metro app, it offers different routes that can be taken with how long the route would take. If you do not know exactly where your stop is, Google Maps can go through the trip with you just like when you are using it in a car.

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Routes options in the Maps app.

Just a warning: The app is going to drain your battery while you use it. So keep this in mind.

 

Remember these tips

Here are some tips to keep in mind while traveling. They may help you to not make some simple mistakes.

  • Make sure to check out the number and name of the bus before getting on it! You may need the number 2 bus, but do you need to get bus 2 [To Rock Road TC] or 2 [To Maplewood TC]? Make sure you know which bus you need to get on, or you may end up lost on the other side of town.
  • The buses and train do stop running at a certain time at night, so keep this in mind when going out!
  • The buses are not always reliable and may be late to stops. Take this into account when traveling, especially if you need to be somewhere at a certain time.
  • While the Metro link usually announces what stop is coming up next, the bus does not. Unless it is a major street, there will be no announcement on what stop is coming up next. Stay alert when riding the bus and keep note of when your stop is. The Google Maps app can help if you are using it on your journey.

Getting used to the public transportation system takes some time, but it isn’t as intimidating as it may seem at first. Just equip yourself with the right tools, and you can be on your way to riding the Metro with ease.

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