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Don’t give up on Loop Trolley, mayor says

CITY HALL – In spite of a recent negative action by a joint committee of the Bi-State Development Agency’s Board of Commissioners, Mayor Lyda Krewson isn’t giving up on the Loop Trolley.

In a statement Friday, Krewson’s director of communications Jacob Long said the region had come too far and invested too much in the trolley to turn its back on it now.

“Defaulting would also send a negative message to the federal government that our region can’t be trusted with future federal investments, which we’ll undoubtedly need for other projects,” Long said in an email on Friday.

“It’s important for the region’s transportation partners to continue to discuss the Trolley’s future as a regional transit asset,” Long wrote. “What critics of the project may fail to realize is that walking away would put us all at risk of defaulting on federal grants totaling more than $20 million, which the Federal Transit Administration has already cautioned could result in a lawsuit.”

Asked whether he was talking specifically about Bi-State or somebody else in the region’s transportation infrastructure, Long responded, “I’m saying what I said.”
 A motion in a recent combined meeting of two subcommittees of the Bi-State Development Agency’s Board of Commissioners to send a plan for the agency to operate the troubled trolley system to the full board died recently for lack of a second.

After the vote, Bi-State President and CEO Taulby Roach said he planned to move on after the committees’ members had made their views clear.

He said he had been asked to look at how Bi-State could work with a troubled transit system. The Combined Operations and Audit, Finance & Administration Committees have made a decision, Roach said.  

“That decision is for me to no longer move forward on it,” Roach said after that meeting. At that time, he wouldn’t say whether he thought the project was dead, only that he wasn’t working on it any more. 

Roach said Tuesday that he had read that the mayor wanted Bi-State to reconsider.

“I don’t see that as an official request to us to look at it,” Roach said. “At this point, I’m not moving any further.”

The 2.2-mile Loop Trolley from the Delmar Loop to the Missouri History Museum sputtered to a stop at the end of 2019 because actual ridership was far short of what was anticipated.

Should the project completely go into default, it might be harder for Bi-State to get federal transportation grants, Roach said after the recent meeting. 

During that meeting, Roach said that Bi-State could run the trolley for four more years by using leftover FTA grant money that has been used for different purposes. That would be $1.1 million for operations and $800,000 for capital purposes to improve the existing equipment.

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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