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Loan keeps Loop Trolley afloat until Jan. 1, while Bi-State considers running it

Loan keeps Loop Trolley afloat until Jan. 1, while Bi-State considers running it

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People wait to ride the Loop Trolley at the Missouri History Museum on Nov. 2, 2019 (Post-Dispatch photo)

ST. LOUIS — The financially wobbly Loop Trolley will keep running at least through the end of year on reduced hours following a $90,000 loan from the sales tax district that helped fund the line’s construction.

Meanwhile, the Bi-State Development Agency — which operates MetroLink and Metro buses — said it’s been asked to “evaluate operating options at avoiding default” of the trolley.

That includes the possible Bi-State/Metro takeover of the line, Bi-State CEO Taulby Roach confirmed in a text message.

Those were the latest developments Wednesday in the saga of the $51-million streetcar line, which links the western end of the Delmar Loop commercial area in University City and the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.

The nonprofit trolley company’s president, John Meyer, had said Oct. 12 that the line faced insolvency if it was unable to come up with $200,000 by this month and another $500,000 to operate into next year.

St. Louis County officials so far have refused to provide any more money, but St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson has said she was trying to come up with a solution.

Officials with the trolley company and the tax district — the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District — didn’t explain Wednesday why the $90,000 loaned this week wasn’t available when Meyer made his statement in October.

There also was no explanation Wednesday of why $90,000 was now considered enough to keep the line operating through the end of the year when Meyer said it needed $200,000 .

The tax district’s chairman, Loop businessman Joe Edwards, said in a voice mail message that the district board’s decision to make the loan was “wonderful news” for trolley employees, the public and the businesses along the route.

Meyer, in a statement Wednesday, called the tax district’s decision this week “a financial lifeline.” He also thanked Bi-State for exploring “a viable solution to continue the long-term operation” of the trolley.

Meyer has said city and county aid could sustain the trolley until a third car could begin operating next spring.

Trolley officials have blamed most of its financial problems on lengthy and unforeseen delays in the delivery of cars, which held down private sponsorship, ad revenue, donations and ticket sales, and depleted reserves.

Editor’s note: John Meyer, the Loop Trolley Company president, earlier said the company needed $200,000 by early November in order to keep the trolley line running through the remainder of the year — or service would be discontinued in mid-November. Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated, at one point, the company sought $200,000 in order to continue operating until mid-November.  

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