St. Louis looks at putting streetcars back to work

March 24, 2013 by  

St. Louis, Missouri, is reportedly looking at the possibility of using streetcars in its downtown area.

A story from this month revealed that the U.S. Bank, Grand Center, and the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis have begun studying the idea of restoring streetcar service, citing benefits to the city as the reason for considering this option. The studies suggest that new development, perhaps totaling as much as $540m, could be realized within the first five years the streetcars operate. After 20 years, the new service could increase development in the city by more than $2bn.

The two routes under study at the moment are an east-to-west route along Olive Street and Lindell, from downtown at 6th Street to Central West End. The second is a north-south line that would connect Metro Civic Center Station to St. Louis Avenue. An environmental impact study must still be done, but if everything works well, the streetcars could be in service by 2017.

The city had streetcars for decades, from the mid-1800s to the 1960s, before being replaced by the less rigid bus service. When the streetcars first went into service, they were so profitable that at least five companies competed to operate them. Of course, streetcars and St. Louis are bound forever by the 1944 film ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’, starring Judy Garland. The Trolley Song, which was nominated for an Oscar, is set on a streetcar.

St. Louis officials could work with brochure printers to develop materials explaining the project and its potential. The brochures could be distributed to business organizations in the area.