Bi-State Development to take on operation of Loop Trolley

Feb. 21, 2022
Bi-State Development could start operations later this year and has agreed to operate the 2.2-mile heritage streetcar line until 2025.

The St. Louis region’s Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners voted on Feb. 18 to approve an agreement that will see Bi-State Development operate the Loop Trolley through June 30, 2025.

The 2.2-mile Loop Trolley, a heritage streetcar project linking St. Louis’ Delmar Loop district with Forest Park, opened in November 2018 and suspended operations in December 2019. The line briefly resumed service in July 2020 before halting operations due to the pandemic.

The Loop Trolley’s suspended service reached a new level of consequence in December 2021 when the Federal Transit Administration requested service resume by June 1, 2022, or the city of St. Louis could be asked to repay the more than $37 million in various federal funds used to construct the line.

In a statement following the board of commissioners’ approval of the operating agreement, Bi-State Development President and CEO Taulby Roach explained he is obligated to “advance requests from our elected leadership to our board of commissioners.” He said he was impressed with Bi-State Development’s partners’ efforts to find a solution to a difficult problem.

“Our board of commissioners approved the current proposal to manage the Loop Trolley to avoid default on federal funding for that project. The agreement our board of commissioners approved is for managerial and logistical support only. It involves no transfer of Loop Trolley assets or liability and allows us to financially isolate the Loop Trolley project,” said Roach.

He explained next steps will include an assessment of the assets of the Loop Trolley.

“We will evaluate each piece of the Loop Trolley equipment and then after that evaluation, our safety teams will move forward on State Safety Oversight associated with the safe operation of the vehicles. This includes coordination with our state partners at [Missouri Department of Transportation] to ensure the proper operation of the Loop Trolley vehicles. We will take that information and negotiate a plan with our partners at the Federal Transit Administration,” said Roach.

There is also the question of how to fund operations of the Loop Trolley.

The agreement recognizes that Loop Trolley Transportation Development District’s current tax revenues are not sufficient to cover the cost of operation. The development district is pursuing a grant from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments following its rejection of a similar grant from the entity in October 2021.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.