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Behind The Headlines: Will The Loop Trolley Be Able To Get Back On Track?

It was a standing-room-only affair on one of the trolleys last weekend.
File photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Only 11 months into its operating life, the Loop Trolley may not be long for this world. The Loop Trolley Company announced Oct. 12 that it needs an influx of $200,000 to continue running the trolley cars through the end of 2019 — and another $500,000 for next year.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin went behind the headlines with STLPR political correspondent Jason Rosenbaum for analysis of the latest developments surrounding the trolley.

Years in the making, the Loop Trolley took $51 million to build, with the majority of the funding coming from a Federal Transit Administration grant.

Rosenbaum said he thinks it's going to be "very, very difficult" for the trolley to get the money that the company has requested from St. Louis County.

"There's no political support among the three Republicans on the county council," the reporter explained, "and only one Democrat of the four would need to say, 'No, we're not giving the trolley this money,' and none of the four are super enthusiastic about it."

One of the biggest questions, Rosenbaum added, about the whole situation is whether — and how much — money will need to be repaid to the federal government should the trolley shut down.

"That's one of the concerns," he said, "but I think that the concern of city and county leaders is [whether we're] just going to be throwing money at this project indefinitely, because it doesn't meet the expectations that were promised when it was being built and being proposed."

Listen to the discussion:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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