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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Bi-State Proposes Forcing Loop Employees to Take the Trolley to Boost Ridership

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 2:13 PM

click to enlarge That's one way to get people to ride the thing, we suppose. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • That's one way to get people to ride the thing, we suppose.
Bi-State Development CEO Taulby Roach has a novel idea to boost ridership on the utter laughingstock that is the Loop Trolley: Let's just force people to ride it!

On Tuesday, Roach updated the St. Louis County Council on a proposed plan for Bi-State to take over running the completely failed choo-choo operation. One point of said plan, as reported by the Post-Dispatch, would be to "develop a program in which Loop business owners would encourage — or require — employees to hold monthly transit passes and park remotely from the Loop, using the trolley to get to and from work."

That Roach does not see the absolute absurdity of this idea speaks to the cluelessness that has dogged the project throughout its run — which makes some sense, being that Roach also sits on the board of directors for the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District.

“Please do not misconstrue my work toward finding a potential solution to those challenges as meaning that I necessarily think the Loop Trolley was the best way federal transportation dollars could ever have been spent," Roach wrote in a letter to the County Council. "Today we all find ourselves in the unenviable position of identifying a way to reassure the federal government that the St. Louis region can be trusted with federal investments by making the best out of a bad situation.”

But forcing Fitz's employees to park at the History Museum and hitch a ride to work on a laughably slow and notoriously unreliable mode of old-timey transport is not the solution Roach seems to think it is, and is far — like, far — more likely to result in a mass exodus of Loop employees than a successful trolley operation.

What happens when a car parks a smidge over the line and the trolley hits it? Because if there's one thing the trolley is known for (aside from being an unfathomably stupid waste of money), it's hitting cars. Do those employees then get out and walk?

How about when it breaks down? It does that a lot too. It did that the last time it operated, in fact. One might argue that a form of transportation whose natural state is broken or stopped is actually not a form of transportation at all, and shouldn't be relied on to get people to work on time.

And consider this: Another point of Roach's plan would see the hours of operation for the trolley set at 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. So from Monday through Thursday, the only employees who even could catch a ride would be the ones scheduled to work from, say, noon to 5 p.m. In other words, this would be useful for virtually no one, because those aren't regular hours of operation for just about any business on Earth, let alone those in the Loop.

The rest of the plan isn't much better, of course. Most notably, it would involve tossing another $1.9 million in unspent federal money from prior grants into the bottomless hole that is the trolley's coffers. Surely that money could be better spent on something that doesn't suck so fucking bad. But this half-baked idea to require Loop employees to commute on the least reliable form of transportation in the world is just beyond the pale.

Is this where we're at now? So desperate for this abject failure of a rich man's vanity project to not cost us future federal grants that we're gonna make people ride it? Didn't the trolley take its "last ride" just last month? Why the hell won't the damned thing die already?
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