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Metro Ready For Fair St. Louis, Continues New Farebox Testing

Metrolink tracks will undergo some grinding work over the next few months.
St. Louis Public Radio Staff
St. Louis Public Radio
Metrolink tracks will undergo some grinding work over the next few months.

The mass transit agency Metro says buses and trains will run as usual for Fair St. Louis this week, despite the possibility of a labor strike.

Vice president of marketing and communications Dianne Williams says Metro is monitoring negotiations with its union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788.

"We do expect to be able to serve Fair St. Louis this week," Williams said. "We will, if we're able, have extra services out on the street. We do every year for Fair St. Louis to accommodate the crowds."

The labor union and Metro are meeting with an arbitrator this week to negotiate terms.  Although Metro warned the public about possible disruptions in service, the union has said a strike could not happen until July 15 after the ruling.

Williams says boarding numbers usually double during the Fourth of July Festivities; 30,000 boardings increase to about 75,000 during the fair. Director of communications Patti Beck staffs more employees for special events like the fair; some of these workers will work extra days, and others will work additional shifts to cover the need. 

In addition to fair preparation this week, Metro also continued to test new fareboxes. 

Beginning Monday, riders have the chance to test the new boxes on six Metro bus routes.

The agency previously tested the boxes on its highest volume routes. The new routes are mostly in St. Louis county: #2 Red, #33 Dorsett-Lackland, #47 North Hanley, #64 Lucas Hunt, #91 Olive and #94 Page. 

Williams said the fareboxes should be installed system-wide by late this year or early next year. 

"Most of the world is going to this new fare collection system," she said. "We're behind, and that was because of our financial situation. Until we got Prop A passed, we were not really able to do some of the innovations that other communities have already been involved in."

The new fareboxes will allow payments by swipe cards. Metro is also working with individual universities to provide new student transportation plans. 

Follow Kristi Luther on Twitter: @kaluther

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