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Trolley 001

Trolley 001 is shown on the first day of operations on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

After more than a half-year in business, the Loop Trolley’s ridership and farebox revenue is lagging as the line continues to operate on a limited-hours schedule with just two of its three cars in service.

Statistics released Tuesday showed the trolley sold 2,210 tickets in June, producing $4,062 in revenue. That’s up from 1,744 tickets and $3,861 in revenue in May but less than the line’s peak month of March, when 2,421 tickets were sold.

Overall since the trolley opened last Nov. 16, 11,364 tickets have been sold, producing farebox revenue of $22,283.

In 2017, an operating budget released by trolley officials had projected annual farebox revenue of $394,433 for the first year of operations, which at that time had been expected to be last year.

That budget didn’t list a ridership projection but trolley officials in 2015 had estimated 394,000 passengers a year.

Kevin Barbeau, the Loop Trolley Co.’s executive director, said Tuesday that the actual numbers since November shouldn’t be compared to the projections because those were based on a seven-day-a-week schedule.

Since it opened, the trolley has only run four days each week, from Thursdays through Sundays.

That’s because of a lengthy delay in the renovation of the trolley line’s third car. The car, built in the 1920s and rehabbed in Iowa, was finally delivered to trolley headquarters on Delmar Boulevard in January.

Since then, it’s been undergoing detailed testing. Barbeau said Tuesday that he hopes the third car can be put into service later this summer but that an exact date has yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, Barbeau said “we’ve been encouraged by the increase in ridership as the months go on.”

He added that “a lot of the work we’ll do on secondary revenue” — such as advertising and fundraising — will pick up when the trolley is finally running on a daily basis.

A longtime Loop Trolley critic, University City resident Tom Sullivan, said Tuesday that the statistics to date show that the trolley “still has a long ways to go to prove it’s worthwhile.”

The $51 million line links the western end of the Delmar Loop commercial area in University City and the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.

Trolley officials said the monthly ridership statistics do not include free tickets issued for promotional events or as a charitable contribution by the trolley company.

Last year trolley officials said the bulk of the line’s annual $1.3 million budget would come from $850,000 raised through a special sales tax paid by customers of Loop district businesses.


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Mark Schlinkmann is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.