Those in attendance heard about three new transit initiatives moving forward or being considered for the St. Louis region– The Loop Trolley project which will be 2.2 mile trolley system running from University City down Delmar to DeBaliviere to the History Museum, the St. Louis Streetcar project which has just wrapped up a feasibility study and was deemed a transit priority for the region by the East-West Gateway Board of Directors in April, and the current Rapid Transit Connector Study which is underway and is looking at a new transit option for the region– Bus Rapid Transit.
Citizens for Modern Transit’s mission is to build, livable sustainable communities through light rail and a connected transit system. Each project discussed last night is an exciting development in and of itself but what is more exciting is that St. Louisans are really looking at options on how to move the current system forward, make it more accessible and hopefully create a true multi-modal, synergistic system for the region which helps to create those livable, walkable areas where people want to live, work and play.
Panelistes included Joe Edwards with the Loop Transportation Development District, Steve Smith with the St. Louis Streetcar Company; and Mark Phillips with Metro.
Edwards talked about the history of The Loop Trolley project including funding sources for the project and the award of a $24.9 million federal urban circulator grant to move the project to fruition. He said that the Loop Trolley construction will hopefully begin as soon as this fall once the FTA gives the final go ahead.
Steve Smith gave an update on the St. Louis Streetcar project. Smith has been a champion for the St. Louis Streetcar Project which would serve downtown St. Louis and beyond. He was instrumental in helping to secure the private funding for the initial feasibility study, forming the new not-for-profit St. Louis Streetcar Company, and is now working to move the project to the next step. Smith said that fundraising is underway to raise the required local match for an Environmental Analysis on the line which is the next step required for any federal funding on the project. He indicated that the feasibiliyt study showed significant economic development potential along both the east-west portion and north-south portion of the 7 mile alignment.
Phillips then moved the discussion from fixed track projects to on-street options. Phillips discussed the Rapid Transit Connector Study. The RTCS is exploring the possibilities of using bus-based rapid transit along highways and major streets to meet some of the region’s most pressing transportation needs. Phillips said that bus rapid transit (brt) in cities such as Portland and Eugenia provides a ride similar to light rail with limited stops, 15 second dwell time at the stations, and a very smooth ride. The study is looking at options like BRT in the I-55, I-44, I-70 and I-40 corridors to meet the demand for moving people from homes to jobs in the suburbs. There will be an emphasis on the connections north-south in areas where is not a direct route by transit to jobs.