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MetroLink will run single-car trains in two-week pilot program

ST. LOUIS – MetroLink will be trying out single-car runs instead of the normal two-car trains, starting Monday, March 14. It’s an experiment to see if the move adds “flexibility” to the regional light rail service, Metro Transit says.

The single-car service will operate daily for two weeks. The normal two-car trains have traveled for nearly 30 years along the 46-mile MetroLink system in the city, St. Louis County and Illinois’ St. Clair County just across the Mississippi River.

“As we react to a post-pandemic world, we need to challenge ourselves as a transit agency to become more flexible as our ridership changes,” said Taulby Roach, president and CEO of Bi-State Development, which operates the Metro Transit public transportation system. “Our region is changing so therefore our transit service must adapt to a post COVID-19 environment where not all employees will return to work in brick and mortar buildings.”

Roach listed some advantages to using single rather than double cars:

1)      One MetroLink train car would be more efficient for security to patrol.

2)      Wear and tear on the machinery will be reduced in half.

3)      Service can be provided more efficiently with the current ridership level.

“We have already identified a few trips during rush hour that we will need to have two-car trains in service to accommodate the volume,” Roach explained. Special events downtown will also call for the second car to be added back on.

Roach also mentioned plans to upgrade with newly designed light rail cars, and to add more electric buses to the MetroBus fleet.

“Those are the types of innovations our customers and the public expect from Metro Transit,” he said.      

Single-car trains were used during the snowstorm in February to help keep trains moving when ice was accumulating on the overhead power wires.

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