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Loop Trolley Asks St. Louis County For $700,000 To Keep Running

The Loop Trolley currently operates Thursdays through Sundays, beginning at noon.
File Photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
The Loop Trolley could shut down on November 15 if it doesn't receive $200,000 to help sustain operations until the end of the year. The company has also asked St. Louis County for $500,000 to help it operate in 2020.

The Loop Trolley could become insolvent unless it comes up with $200,000 in November, according to the company’s president. 

The Loop Trolley Co. requested $200,000 from the St. Louis County Transit Fund in September to keep the trolley running for the rest of the year, company President John S. Meyer Jr. said in an email Saturday. It also requested $500,000 to operate next year. 

If the company does not receive financial assistance, the trolley could stop operating as soon as Nov. 15, Meyer said. 

“This decision was not made lightly,” he said.  Funding from the county “would allow us to reach our full capacity, and put us on track to deliver the service and achieve the goals we originally planned for.” 

The trolley will begin cutting back service next week to make up for its budget shortfalls. The funding could help support the operation, which plans to add a third car and expand to daily service, Meyer said. 

The $52 million Loop Trolley runs 2.2 miles between the Missouri History Museum and the University City Library on Delmar Boulevard. After more than six years of delays and budget problems, the trolley began operating in November 2018. 

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page told members of the county council in a letter Friday that the trolley had requested more funds. 

“[B]ut the County doesn’t have much to give,” Page said. “We have an extraordinarily tight budget, limited revenue growth, and, even if drastic cost reductions are implemented, a structural deficit. The County obviously does not have the spare cash in the general fund to help the trolley.”

If the council decides to provide financial assistance to the trolley, it could use funds from the county’s public mass transit fund, Page said. He also told trolley officials to seek help from the city of St. Louis, which had a $23 million budget surplus this year. 

“We suggested to the trolley system’s leadership that they approach the City about contributing to the system’s funding, but they reported to my staff that the City was apparently not interested in contributing,” Page said. 

St. Louis County gave the trolley $3 million in 2015.

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Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.