St Louis Reconsiders the Loop Trolley . . . Again
The Bi-State Development Agency is meeting on Friday to consider getting the Loop Trolley up and running again.
Under the proposed plan, Bi-State would operate the trolley while the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District (LTTDD) would still be liable for it financially. Bi-State would enter into a managerial and logistical support contract with the LTTDD without transferring ownership of the trolley. Leaders of the LTTDD are also asking Bi-State to reconsider the $1.26 million of federal traffic congestion and air quality improvement grants it denied to the trolley late last year.
The catch with restarting the trolley after years of broken promises and operational failures is that the federal government is threatening to claw back $37 million of grants that were used to build the trolley. At this point, the most sensible decision would be to do whatever would cost taxpayers less. This would mean doing some hard math, which I described here previously. The agenda for the Friday meeting does not indicate that a cost–benefit analysis has been undertaken.
And just as a reminder: $51 million of taxpayer’s money has already been spent on the trolley with little to nothing to show for it. As an example of things that can actually be done with that amount of money, India sent a satellite into orbit around Mars on a slightly larger budget of $74 million. I am neither advocating spending another $23 million on the trolley nor sending the trolley to Mars. But I do wish that the Loop Trolley developers had been as resourceful with our money.
But now that I think about it, sending the Loop Trolley to Mars might not be such a bad idea . . .