Redbird Express canceled
Several St. Louis Cardinals fans sat in their cars in the parking lot of the St. Clair Square mall in Fairview Heights on Monday evening, scrambling to make last minute plans.
They were left without transportation arrangements after Metro canceled its Redbird Express, a shuttle that takes Illinois baseball fans from the metro-east and to Busch Stadium in St. Louis on game nights.
The shuttle was canceled because of staffing issues, Metro said. The company also said it cannot guarantee this will be the only instance.
Fans like Craig Herman, who had traveled two hours from Herrin to catch the bus, were “disappointed.”
“I was joking with my daughter when we pulled up and didn’t see any buses, saying ‘maybe they aren’t running today.’ Turns out I was right,” he said.
The announcement came Monday afternoon after a fourth day of MetroLink and MetroBus delays and cancellations due to a high number of drivers taking off or declining to take extra shifts. The delays stem from ongoing labor contract negotiations between Metro and the Amalgamated Transit Union.
In the mall parking lot, employees of the St. Clair County Transit District were handing out papers to the would-be Redbird Express riders that explained the situation and offered maps of other Metro stations they could use.
Most people, like Peggy Hillmer of Edwardsville, said they’d just end up driving and paying for parking downtown near the stadium.
“Usually I love [the Redbird Express], but I’m feeling put out and inconvenienced,” she said as she waited for the friend she was supposed to ride the bus with. “I already drove half an hour to get here.”
Many of the stranded fans said that they wish Metro would have let people know sooner about the cancellation.
“It’s an inconvenience,” said Karen Hills of Fairview Heights. “They should’ve notified us.”
Metro’s Executive Director Jessica Mefford-Miller said in a news release earlier Monday that the contract negotiations are nearing their end. Since June 2018, Metro and the union have met 18 times, most recently on Aug. 12.
“I regret that these actions are a burden to our customers and a blow to the credibility of Metro Transit and the important service we all work hard to deliver,” she said in the release. “Furthermore, these actions do not move us closer to ratifying new labor contracts. We continue to negotiate in good faith with the ATU and together we’ve made significant progress.”
A new contract proposal is set for this week, and another meeting is set for Aug. 23.
For Redbird Express Service updates, visit scctd.org or call 618-628-8090.