A financially strapped St. Louis-area streetcar line will shut down Dec. 29 but might reopen later under new management, according to the nonprofit company that operates it.
John Meyer, president of the Loop Trolley Co., said after a meeting of the firm’s board last week that “we hope a plan will come to fruition that may allow the trolley to resume operating at some point in the near future,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The 2.2-mile system, which runs from University City’s Delmar Loop to the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, began operation in November 2018 after years of delays. Ridership has been low, as the line operated on a limited-hours, four-day-a-week schedule with just two of its three cars in service. Officials had hoped to expand the hours of operation after the kinks were worked out, but they ran into financial problems.
Meyer in October made an unsuccessful plea to St. Louis County and St. Louis to get some additional operating money. The shutdown has raised concerns that the federal government, which paid for about two-thirds of the $51.5 million system, might want to be paid back part of the money if the trolley stops running for good.
The Bi-State Development Agency, which operates MetroLink and the Metro bus system, is the most likely savior of the project. Bi-State’s president and CEO, Taulby Roach, said that he and his staff are reviewing the trolley operation “in an effort to figure out how it can be a viable transit option in St. Louis.”
“The goal is avoiding default on the federal grants because we feel that would be dangerous in the long term,” he said, referring to the metro area’s chances of getting future federal transportation aid.
Roach said he will submit a report on the trolley to Bi-State’s board at its Tuesday meeting.
“This is a wonderful asset,” Meyer said. “It deserves a chance to prove its worth and I’m hopeful it will have that opportunity.”