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MetroLink to add ticket gates, better cameras to improve rider safety

The transit system has had some security breaches over the years including shootings and robberies.

ST. LOUIS — Bi-State Development, the agency that oversees MetroLink in St. Louis, has answered a call from the public for a safer transit experience.

The company's safety and security committee put an engineering contract out to bid for final designs for a new system Thursday.

A proposed $53 million “Secure Platform Plan” would add gates and turnstiles at all 38 MetroLink stations throughout the region, ticket vending machines, and enhanced video surveillance.  

Card readers and mobile phone barcodes would also be a part of the rollout.

MetroLink has had its fair share of security issues over the years including shootings, robberies, and other heinous criminal activity.

A 31-year-old was shot after an argument on the train in mid-April.

RELATED: Suspect charged in deadly shooting on MetroLink train

There has been some back and forth over whether gates and barriers were the right solution.

Erin Seay, who uses the MetroLink rail just about every day to get to and from work, told 5 On Your Side the need for safety is something she said never stop thinking about.

"I was at one of the MetroLink stations and was actually robbed. I don't have too many friends or family out here so I usually travel alone,” Seay said.

Tim Johnson, who used it for the first time in years Friday, was excited about the new technology in that it might prevent robbery.

"If somebody thirsty or whatever to get you. They are going to try to get you if they see you pull out a lot of money so that's kind of like a good measure to take. Scan and go. Get your ticket. You ain't standing there too long," Johnson said.

Taulby Rouch, Bi-State's president and CEO, explained that turnstiles had been in question for 30 years when the 46-mile system first started rolling.

We asked him, “why now?”

"Transit just like our city should be vibrant and growing and changing and with the dynamics that change in public policy and security in how we take care of our neighborhoods, our transit system should be changing," Rouch said.

A little more than $10 million of the $52 million slated for the updated system will come from the private sector.            

The other portion will come from a combination of St. Louis City, County, St. Clair County, and federal funding, Rouch said.

A full design contract will be laid out in August while the project is expected to be complete in 2025.

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