Editorial: Regional cooperation required as John Nations departs Bi-State

By on June 12, 2018

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  After years of trying to negotiate security improvements on the MetroLink light rail line with St. Louis County government, the head of the Bi-State Development Agency, John Nations, is resigning. Nations, 55, has headed the agency that oversees MetroLink for eight years and is leaving without rancor. But longtime Bi-State board member and Nations’ supporter, former St. Louis Mayor Vincent Schoemehl Jr., says Nations is “worn out” from the “incessant sniping” and St. Louis County’s refusal to fix the security problems.

As Bi-State seeks new leadership, the county needs to get on board with much-needed safety improvements. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and County Police Chief Jon Belmar have tried to pin MetroLink’s problems on Nations. But, in fact, they control the line’s security. The best Nations could do was assign security guards who had little authority, particularly after St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch refused to prosecute fare violation tickets they wrote.

Nations, an attorney, resigned as mayor of Chesterfield in 2010 to take over as Bi-State’s president and CEO. Bi-State is generally equated with the Metro bus and rail system, but it is actually a $400 million-a-year operation with some 2,500 employees.

Bi-State was formed in 1949 to oversee various forms of transportation and development in the metropolitan area joining Illinois and the St. Louis region. Among its various enterprises, the agency oversees regional freight operations, Parks Airport, an economic development research institute and the tram at the Gateway Arch. At the request of area leaders, Bi-State recently formed St. Louis Regional Freightway to push for building on the region’s importance to the freight industry.

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