Bi-State Development Board votes to revive Loop Trolley

Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 12:58 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Friday morning, the Bi-State Development Board voted to revive the Loop Trolley.

The members of the board discussed a new operating agreement with the taxing district that built the trolley, which stopped running in December 2019. Federal authorities said the trolley must be running again or millions in federal money must be returned. Future implications of returning the funding was a big motivator to move forward with the trolley.

The only board member to vote against the proposal was Derrick Cox, who voiced concerns about short-staffing on the already impacted public transportation systems.

“So we’re going to have to take our mechanics that are already stressed to the max and try to fix these 100-year-old trolley cars that continually break down and that nobody really wants to ride,” Cox said.

“Cutbacks in service based on labor availability, that’s a completely legitimate point... but so is our capacity to get federal funding as we move forward,” said Bi-State Development CEO Taulby Roach. “A default is a completely legitimate point. The problem is that would devastate service for those same customers.”

The Bi-state Development Board agreed to operate the Loop Trolley till June of 2025. The agreement comes with no cost for the transit authority.

Board member Nate Johnson voted in favor of the proposal.

“It’s very important to understand and that sort of underscore that we’re not taking on any financial liability or any other liability. By working on this project. Our goal is to hopefully bring it to a level of solvency where it can support itself,” he said.

How to pay for the trolley service is a critical issue for restarting. Sales tax and ticket sales weren’t enough to cover operating costs. The trolley authority asked the East-West Gateway Council of Government for a $1.26 million grant and was denied. The trolley authority has requested the grant a second time.

During the board meeting, it was pointed out, even if the grant is awarded, the decision won’t come till August and the trolley authority won’t receive the money till next year.

Several steps are ahead before a start date can be determined. But federal transit officials asked that the trolley service by restarted by June 1.