Get me to (and around) St. Louie

I’ve arrived in St. Louis, MO for the 2012 National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Biennial Conference, and my first post here is in surprised praise of an impressive public transit system! I was really able to walk right out of the airport and onto a train that got me all the way downtown to the Union Station Marriott, where music educators from all over the U.S. are convening. For $3.75. 

So it took more planning and work for me to get from my house in North L.A. to the Van Nuys FlyAway two miles away—where I caught a $7 shuttle to Los Angeles International Airport that braved the freeways for more than an hour in rush hour traffic—than it did for me to get across this particular unfamiliar city quickly, safely, and inexpensively.

We sped along the rail route as a Metrolink employee rocked a one-woman show on the other side of a glass wall: announcing stops over a P.A., sounding the horn, accelerating, slowing and braking with relish, waving like a neighbor to passing trains, and waiting for people who ran toward her calling out to hold the door and thanking her when they hopped on. I marveled at the green space along the route and made up a story in which St. Louis could do this because they started planning for it early in the city’s history. Ain’t necessarily so, I learned when I got on the internet later. Construction began on the first Metrolink section in 1990 and it opened for business in 1993.

I’m even more impressed knowing that this project is just over a couple of decades in the making. KUDOS, St. Louis! This Los Angelena is envious of your vision and execution in the realm of mass transit.

Much to come next on MUSIC EDUCATION, an increasingly urgent topic given intense budget cuts nationally.

For part 2 of this 3-part piece, go to Arts education: good, or crucial?

For part 3 of this 3-part piece, go to Arts education: a wrench, not a flower.