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Pandemic knocks Bi-State's credit rating down two notches

Pandemic knocks Bi-State's credit rating down two notches

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Metro warns of delays

Metro buses navigate the lot at the transit station at 14th Street and Clark Avenue downtown on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

S&P Global Ratings has lowered the Bi-State Development Agency's bond rating by two notches, citing drops in ridership and sales tax revenue.

S&P said the agency, which operates the St. Louis area's Metro transit system, has been "materially affected" by the COVID-19 pandemic. It said Bi-State is "vulnerable to significant budgetary shortfalls as it navigates the pandemic's effect on the economy and finances during the next few years."

The move lowers the rating on $178 million in debt to AA-minus from AA-plus. S&P also changed its outlook on Bi-State to negative, saying there's "at least a one-in-three likelihood" that it would cut the rating again within six to 12 months.

The AA-minus rating is considered investment grade, and on S&P's ratings scale it denotes a "very strong" ability to make financial commitments.

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