After freaking out about transportation options to & from St. Louis' Union Station & the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, I posted a query on the board here and received some excellent advice.
And actually, it was fairly easy. Of course, it helped that I ran into a Chicagoan transplanted "from" St. Louis so he showed me where & how to get the tix for the Metrolink (much easier system than Chicago's CTA, I must tell you - and much cleaner). You put your cash in the machine & choose your ticket options (we chose the $2.50 2-hour option) and you get your cash back. At CTA in Chicago you must have exact change or you lose your money. This isn't so cool when you need a 2-day $9 pass and only have a 10-er (Chicago must make a lot of extra money this way)!
Also, I was really impressed (see photo) with the policy of letting seniors & the disabled ride free - seniors can either show proof of age or their A.D.A. id card.
We got off at Lambert Airport, went downstairs & picked up a cab (immediately - so seamless) who took us out to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. Cost us about $13 each including tip.
If you, also, are going to Lambert Airport be sure to check the front of the train as it pulls in that it has the airport's name on it as the line splits before it gets to the airport. You could end up in a totally different place than what you'd expect!
Photo: May 14, 2008
Was worried about going to & fro the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre & Union Station in St. Louis. But it turned out to be fairly seamless (although I chose the more expensive options of metroing out to Lambert Airport then catching a cab downstairs from there to the concert venue (cost us about $13 each including tip).
After the concert I chose to use County Cab. I called the taxi dispatcher from the concert who directed me to a Mobil/Burger King gas station (at the end of the parking lot, turn left and walk about a 1/2 mile along the road until you see the Mobil gas station with a Burger King inside). The cab rolled in about the time I walked there (about a 10 minute walk); 'twas $40 to get back to Union Station and I was back in town in about 30 minutes (oh, yes, I gave him a $10 tip, so $50 altogether). Again, a seamless operation.
I was really happy with the results. In fact, it turned out to be one of the most perfect days I've ever had (you know the kind)!
I just came back froma trip to St. Louis where I took the Megabus from Cincy to Chicago, then from Chicago to St. Louis and back the same way (well, only backwards). I paid:
$8 Cincinnati to Chicago
$15 Chicago to St. Louis
$8 St. Louis back to Chicago
$15 Chicago to Cincinnati
$46 round-trip! Sure beats driving there with these new gas prices!! The first 10 seats for a trip go for a measly $1.
They have 3 areas they cover:
Midwest - Chicago is the hub center with destinations as far north as Minneapolis/St Paul, as far west as Kansas City, Mo, as far south as Memphis, TN, and as far east as Cleveland, OH
Northeast - NYC is the hub center for this region and goes as far north & east as Boston, as far west as Toronto, ON, as far south as Baltimore, MD
West Coast - the hub center here seems to be LA and goes as far east as Vegas, as far north as Oakland (where I hail from), and as far south as San Diego/San Ysidro
The only problem with Megabus is that none of these regions intersect. For instance you can go as far north & east in the midwest to Cleveland but you won't be able to go from there to the North East to get to say, NYC.
The great thing about Megabus (besides it being so darn cheap) is that it runs from downtown in one city to downtown to another. For instance, in Cincinnati, it stops right in front of Carew Tower at 4th & Race, at Union Station in Chicago, and at Union Station in St. Louis.
Although the seats themselves aren't that comfortable, I find that if you take the night run there are so few people you can lay down on one seat and stretch your legs out to the one across the aisle!
Be forewarned: Union Station does not have luggage lockers! I called ahead of time to find out & because I wasn't staying overnight was forced to bring just a few things in a carryon bag (one I bought at the BHV in Paris - thanks, madaboutparis!)
Photos: May 14, 2008
Lambert is divided into two terminals: the much larger Main Terminal and the smaller East Terminal. With few exceptions, the Main Terminal hosts all airlines except Southwest, which is the primary tenant of the East Terminal.
In the Main Terminal, ticketing is on the upper level, while the concourses & baggage claim are on the lower level. There are 4 concourses labeled A - D. For connections, Concourses B, C & D (plus the East Terminal's E Concourse) are in the same security area. Concourse A, however, is in a separate security area, so you'll need to go back through security if your connection takes you between Concourse A and any of the other concourses. There are numerous dining & drinking options in the Main Terminal, both inside & outside of the security area. The options are more numerous and, for the most part, better inside of the security area.
There is a MetroLink station connected directly to the Main Terminal. Located on the upper level, it's easy to find by following the well-marked signs. There are ticket machines & a validator immediately inside the red station entrance (on the left). There is another ticket machine at the top of the escalator and validators outside on the platform. If you're watching the schedule, trains usually arrive 5 minutes before the next scheduled departure. Since this is the end of the line, the train will sit and be available for boarding until it's scheduled departure time. While the station platform is outdoors, if the weather is bad there is a small area to stand inside and watch for the next train to arrive.
The East Terminal is much smaller than the Main Terminal and primarily hosts Southwest Airlines. Ticketing and the single concourse, labeled E, are on the upper level. Baggage claim is on the lower level. For dining & drinking, only a Starbucks exists outside of the security area; all other options (bagels, fast food, sit-down, bar & more Starbucks) are inside of security.
The East Terminal also has a dedicated MetroLink station, but it's located across the parking lot from the terminal. Ticket machines & validators are up on the platform. To reach the station, exit the terminal on either the upper or lower level and follow the signs across the parking lot. If the weather is bad, using the covered lower level is a good choice. Unfortunately, the station itself is outside and only has a bit of rain protection.
The two terminals are connected through Concourse D, but be warned that it's a pretty long walk. Even with some moving walkways along the way, it can take 10 minutes or more to get between the two terminals. The advantage of walking is that this is all inside the security area which includes access to Concourses B, C, D & E. An alternative to walking is the free airport shuttle bus that runs continuously between the MT12 exit on the lower level of the Main Terminal and the ET12 exit on the lower level of the East Terminal. While MetroLink connects the two terminals, the shuttle bus has the advantage of being both free and more conveniently located.
There is Wifi access available in both terminals. And while it's not free ($7.95 per day; supports accounts with Alltel, ATT, Boingo, Concourse, iPass, Optimus, Orange France, Sprint, T-Mobile & Verizon), it does provide free access to the websites of the airport, Metro (St. Louis' public transportation provider) and various other St. Louis attractions. So if you're only looking for travel information you may be able to find it without having to pay for access.
MetroBus is the name of St. Louis' local bus service. While it covers almost everywhere a visitor will want to go, most of the lines only run twice per hour. So planning your route & schedule in advance by consulting the maps & schedules on Metro's website is a must to avoid wasted time (unless you're a LOT more patient than I am). If you're arriving in St. Louis at Lambert-St. Louis airport, you'll be better served by starting your trip on MetroLink than MetroBus.
Single ride fares are $1.75. This is for one ride on one bus; no transfers. For trips requiring more than one bus line (or combining MetroBus with MetroLink) you'll need to buy the more expensive "Multi-Use Transfer" fare for $2.25. This fare provides unlimited travel in any direction of any MetroBus or MetroLink line for 2 hours from when it was purchased.
Fares are purchased from the driver when boarding the bus (through the front door). Change is not given, so plan ahead or be prepared to pay extra. No physical ticket is given for a regular fare; only for Multi-User Transfers.
If you are planning to make several trips in a single day (that can't be completed within the 2 hours of a Multi-User Transfer), then a One-Day pass can be a good value at $4.50. Unfortunately, you can't buy these on MetroBus buses; they're only available at a MetroLink station. There's also a 7-Day pass available if you're here for a longer visit, but again they're only available at a MetroLink station. The student fares advertised on Metro's website are only valid for students of participating schools and are not a general "student discount".
If you're really an advance planner and can determine how much you'll be riding, you can order One-Day passes and books of 10 Two-Hour passes (at a discounted price) online and have them mailed to you before your visit (Two-Hour passes are the same as Multi-Use Transfers).
MetroLink is St. Louis' clean & efficient light rail system. Single ride fares are $2.00. This fare is valid for unlimited trips for 2 hours, but only if all trips are in the same direction. If you purchase the more expensive $2.25 fare (somewhat confusingly called a Two-Hour pass), you can make unlimited trips on MetroLink in any direction for 2 hours and you can also transfer to and from MetroBus as well.
For trips beginning at Lambert-St. Louis airport, the only fare available is a "special" $3.50 Two-Hour pass (where "special" simply means "more expensive").
Tickets are purchased from vending machines at MetroLink stations. And you'll need to validate your ticket in the one of the red validation machines before boarding the train. There are no turnstiles to board a MetroLink train. Instead, ticket agents randomly board trains and ask each rider to produce a valid ticket, so be sure to hang onto yours for the duration of your ride.
If you plan to take more than two trips in a day (that can't be completed within the 2 hours of a Two-Hour pass), then a One-Day pass is a good value at $4.50. It's good for unlimited travel on both MetroLink & MetroBus until midnight of the day it was purchased. There's also a 7-Day pass available if you're here for a longer visit. Note that the student fares advertised on Metro's website are only valid for students of participating schools and are not a general "student discount".
If you're really an advance planner and already know how much you'll be riding, you can order One-Day passes and books of 10 Two-Hour passes (at a discounted price) online and have them mailed to you before your visit.
St. Louis has good but not great public transportation for the visitor, being served by both buses & light rail. While it is possible to rely solely on public transportation when visiting St. Louis, it is challenging and likely will require some advance planning. The MetroLink light rail runs relatively frequently, but has limited geographic coverage. The MetroBus buses can get you almost anywhere you want to be, but many lines only run twice an hour, making keeping to a schedule critical. Weekend schedules, especially Sundays, are often even less frequent than weekdays. Most holidays are served by Sunday schedules.
Information for both MetroLink & MetroBus, including maps & schedules, can be found on Metro's website.
Most tourists don't seem to know they can easily get Downtown, from the only Airport, for only $3.25! The modern Metro train station is attached to the Lambert Airport! You might have to ask for directions to it, but once you find it, Easy. If ticket agent isn't there, just put $3.25 into the ticket machine, then take it to validator machine.
After that take escalator, or elevator, up to the station platform, which is right there. You can go to several downtown stops, where your hotel probably is located. On the return trip it is only 2.25 per adult. Kid's fares are about half the adult ones. If you took a cab, it would be at least $20, or more.
Their web site is really excellent. (Lots more information than I can say here in this tip.) The ticket machine takes larger bills, up to $10, I think. The all day ticket may be a great deal for you, at $4.50. Note: buses and trains do not run 24 hours a day.
In the past, you had to have a car to get around St. Louis; now Metro will let you get to the major sites safely and easily. The main line runs from the airport to downtown and beyond. The trains are clean and safe & there are several stops downtown, one in the Central West End, one at Forest Park, and one at the U City Loop. Soulard and Lafayette Square are a very short cab ride from downtown. Of course, traffic is not bad in St. Louis, so if you have a car you can get anywhere easily, but Metro means that you do not have to have one.
I have been flying through St Louis airport for about 15 years, and I have noticed a huge change from an old run down terminal that I tried to avoid, to a modern and efficient airport that ranks as one of my favorite. The airport has two terminals, five concourses, and four runways.
Parking at STL ranges from $5 to $18 per day. The airport is accessible from I-70, I-170, and I-270.
A 2006 JD Power survey ranked St Louis as travelers' 7th favorite mid-sized airport in America.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport gots its name from one of America's earliest aviator Major Lambert. This air field was also where Charles Lindberg departed for his first non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927. There are now 10 major airlines and 11 regional airlines flying into this historic airport.
Airport code: "STL"
There is a "Main Terminal" and a "East Terminal". Most airlines are using the Main Terminal.
Airport is about 15 miles from St. Louis. We took the hotel free shuttle service. There is a light rail link and bus airport shuttle to town.
The Metrolink expansion has just opened this year! It is slowly making its way to the West and South suburbs.
The prices are low, the trains are empty except for when a Rams or Cardinals game is being played, and it is reasonably effecient.
Check out where parking is available and you can enjoy a nice trip into the city without parking hassles.
Paid parking is available in the Arch Parking Garage located on the north edge of the Arch grounds. Access the garage via Washington Avenue. Parking is $6 for the first 9 hours and 75 cents for each additional half hour.
I parked along the levee in the shadow of the arch. The cost is $3.00 per car per day.
Plan your route well. Small parking lots downtown, narrow curving streets; streets lined with trees make for difficult driving for some vehicles. If traveling in separate cars, be sure to have communication with each other. Driving directions without a good map turned out to be a problem for us because of a mistake in the directions.
If you are going to a day game at Busch Stadium during the work week, make sure you leave early. You do not want to be around the stadium during lunch rush hour. It will be difficult to find good parking.
Most parking garages charge around $12.00. We were lucky and found parking about three blocks away but on the 9th floor.