Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
The Loop Trolley is up and running in the Delmar Loop having fully begun operations Nov. 23 after multiple delays and setbacks.
The Loop Trolley runs for 2.2 miles with the tracks running along Delmar Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue. The trolley runs Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.
The trolley route has 10 stops including popular destinations such as the University City Library, The Pageant, Forest Park and the Missouri History Museum. The trolley also links with two Metro stations: the Forest Park/DeBaliviere MetroLink and Delmar Loop MetroLink.
Tickets for the trolley are purchased at machines placed at every station platform. While customers can only pay using cash and credit cards at the moment, a mobile application for purchasing tickets is currently in development. A $2 ticket will provide a two hour fare while all-day tickets cost $5. Discounts are also available for passengers who are disabled as well as those age 65 or older.
The Loop Trolley construction budget was $51 million, equaling $17 million per track mile. The trolley is owned by the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District and is operated by the 501c3 nonprofit organization the Loop Trolley Company. The trolley line effort was spearheaded by Joe Edwards, a local businessman and chairman of the Loop Trolley district.
The Loop Trolley Transportation Development District has been trying to get this project off the ground for years, with the project first being envisioned in 1997. However, the project received multiple setbacks during the course of its completion.
The most recent setback occurred on what was actually the second planned opening day for the trolley Nov. 16. The trolley was operating that day, but only on a section of its tracks between the Missouri History Museum and the corner of Delmar Boulevard and Des Peres Avenue. This meant that the Loop Trolley was not operating within the Delmar Loop at all. This was due to University City (where the remainder of the track lies) preventing the trolley cars from crossing into their city limits because the trolley’s permit requirements had not been met.
The Loop Trolley was able to eventually operate within University City after certain conditions were met. City Manager for University City Gregory Rose demanded that trolley officials compile a $300,000 bond and to put up temporary barriers around an electrical line tower before allowing the trolley to operate past St. Louis. Rose wanted a bond in place in case the trolley is a financial failure. Rose also wanted the barriers around an electrical pole that was put up near the University City Library due to the hazards it would cause to motorists if they struck it. Loop Trolley officials obliged and Rose allowed the trolley to operate in University City’s portion of the track beginning Nov. 23.
The initial planned opening day for the trolley was Nov. 15, however the harsh weather from the snowstorm that hit St. Louis prevented the trolley from operating that day. The ribbon-cutting event at Delmar Hall with state and local officials did go on as planned at 10:30 a.m.
The trolley has also raised numerous safety concerns over the years since construction began. Oct. 23, the trolley hit a parked white van during one of its test runs on the south side of Delmar Boulevard where there is not much room between street parking and the trolley tracks. Another parked vehicle, this time a pickup truck, was hit by the trolley in the same area Nov. 13, just two days before the initial planned opening.
In addition to driving, biking may not be a safe choice when the trolley is running. The Traffic Commission which advises the University City Council regarding issues related to roadways expressed concerns that bicycle tires can easily get pulled into the track, which could result in serious injuries.
After years of setback after setback, the Loop Trolley is finally transporting St. Louisans across the Delmar Loop, but its track record during the trolleys conception leaves citizens a bit sceptical as to whether the project was worth the time and money.