St. Louis County taxpayers forked over $3 million for a public transportation project, but now Loop Trolley officials seeks another half million. Project developers are asking county taxpayers to chip in another $500,000 for the streetcar, which is under construction in St. Louis. The additional funding would be added to more than $33.9 million in federal funds and used to entice future federal funding.
The Loop Trolley should be operational in the fall, after several months of delay.
Project official Joe Edwards told the St. Louis Dispatch an extra $500,000 in local taxpayer money would be used to fund longer operating hours and to facilitate a successful launch. Moktee Ahmad, the Federal Transit Authority regional administrator, told Loop Trolley officials that a $500,000 shortage of local funding “will not reflect positively” for future St. Louis County requests for federal aid.
That threat should be tempered with the knowledge that the federal transit funding for old-timey transportation projects may become a thing of the past. Trump’s initial budget proposal shaved FTA funding. Congress saved much of the proposed cuts, but future Trump budget proposals will likely continue to trim transportation project funding.
St. Louis County was one of a handful of cities to receive federal funding for its trolley project in 2010. Back then, feds kicked in $25 million for the Urban Circulator Grant. (Sixty-five communities applied. Only six received the FTA grants.)
The Federal Transit Administration ponied up $33.9 million of the $51 million necessary to build 2.2-mile trolley loop between University City and the History Museum in Forest Park. In contrast, Kansas City’s similar project–the KC Streetcar–cost $102 million and was funded by local taxpayer funds. The St. Louis Loop Trolley remains under construction, though planning for the project began more than 15 years ago.
Unlike the Kansas City streetcar, riders will have to pay to ride the St. Louis Loop Trolley.