Loop Trolley Celebrates Recent Milestones, Prepares for Route Testing of First Trolley Car

ST. LOUIS – MARCH 2, 2017… After years of planning and much anticipation, The Loop Trolley Company (LTC) today gathered key partners and stakeholders to celebrate major milestones recently reached in the project connecting St. Louis City and St. Louis County via an electrically powered, fixed-route trolley. The event also provided an opportunity to communicate important safety information. Attendees on hand for the event, which was held at the recently completed Loop Trolley Headquarters (5875 Delmar Blvd), toured the new facility where the trolley cars will be stored and maintained and got a close-up look at the first of the meticulously restored vintage trolley cars that is undergoing final testing in preparation for its debut on the newly constructed trolley route.

“We are thrilled to have the first restored trolley cars here in St. Louis so we can see first-hand the wonderful workmanship that has been completed,” stated Joe Edwards, chairman of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District (LTTDD). “With the second of the refurbished Portland trolleys due here in the next few weeks, there’s no question we’ve made great progress over the past several months.”

As excitement builds for the testing to move out of the headquarters and onto the tracks where the public can get their first glimpse of the newly refurbished cars in action, representatives of The LTC and the LTTDD used the event as an opportunity to raise awareness about how the cars will operate and encourage people to visit the looptrolley.com website where they will find comprehensive safety information on the expanded safety tab.

“While we don’t have the exact dates yet, testing here at the facility is going well, and the first trolley car could be out on the tracks as early as mid- to late-March, pending completion of final documentation in collaboration with the Federal Transit Administration,” noted Kevin Barbeau, executive director of the Loop Trolley Company. “With that possibility in mind, we believe it’s important to start communicating to the public what they can expect to see and give them time to familiarize themselves with important safety information to help keep them safe around the trolley.”

Staying Safe Around the Trolley

The Loop Trolley is designed to run on rails in the street alongside traffic and pedestrians, but it will be a totally new addition to the traffic mix, so it’s important for the public to be aware of their surroundings and understand how the trolleys will operate along the trolley route so they can take the necessary precautions.  Even during testing, the trolleys will share a lane with other moving vehicles and travel along with traffic, in both directions, up to the speed limit (25 mph) – just like a bus. They will follow the same traffic signals as other vehicles. There is, however, one vital distinction between the trolley and other vehicles: The trolleys cannot swerve to avoid obstacles. It’s also important to keep in mind there are no barriers separating the trolleys from other road users.

To avoid coming into contact with the trolleys or otherwise putting themselves at risk, people should be aware of the following rules:

  • Don’t stand, walk, ride or drive on the white diagonal striping along the trolley route.
  • Don’t pass a trolley that’s traveling in front of you in the same lane.
  • Vehicles cannot be parked on the rails and must be within the white line. (Illegal parking can result in fines or towing.)
  • Pedestrian crossing is only allowed at specifically marked crosswalks.

Aside from the rules, Barbeau also issued a reminder that there are various recommendations to help keep people safe around the trolley tracks and overhead catenary wire system that will power the trolleys. Among them, cyclists are encouraged to ride along the newly established Delmar Loop bike route to avoid the tracks and the possibility of tires getting stuck in the grooves alongside the rail. If a cyclist should find him or herself along the trolley route, it’s best to always cross the rails at right angles (the same advice applies for scooters, strollers, wheelchairs). Before crossing the street, people should listen for warning bells and horns, and look both ways because trolleys run quietly in the street and they run in both directions. The public is also urged to always call 911 to notify emergency personnel of any downed wires. On the safety tab at looptrolley.com, the public can find even more tips specific for their individual situation, whether they get around by bicycle, on foot or in an automobile or other vehicle. It also includes helpful information for those who may need to work on buildings or utilities along the trolley route.

What will the testing entail?

Once vehicle testing gets underway on the tracks, it will be ongoing for several months before the trolleys begin carrying passengers, and it will involve both testing and training with not only Loop Trolley staff, but also in conjunction with first responders. As much as possible, testing will initially be conducted during off peak hours in order to have the least impact on existing traffic along the trolley route. In general terms, the testing will entail the following:

  • Clearance tests, during which the trolleys will be pushed/pulled along the alignment to make sure the trolleys align correctly with each of the platforms.
  • Testing the trolley cars themselves, first at slow speed, then up to 10 mph, gradually increasing to higher speeds until they reach full operating speeds of up to 25 mph.
  • Testing all the switches and the signal system so that when the trolley is on approach the system picks it up and communicates with the traffic signals.
  • After everything is tested and the system is ready, the trolleys will be run along the route so each car is broken in with about 300 miles on it before operating for passenger service.

“We know everyone is eager to see trolleys running on the street, which will  be an indication we’re one giant step closer to pinning down a grand opening date,” noted Les Sterman, chairman of The Loop Trolley Company. “But we have to remind everyone this is a unique and complex project that requires very careful testing to assure safe and reliable operations before we begin service. Our number one priority is to offer a safe, reliable trolley service providing a truly memorable experience for riders, and we’re doing everything we can to deliver on that in as timely a manner as possible.”

Those attending today’s event also got to hear from University City Mayor Shelley Welsch, Alderwoman Lyda Krewson and Alderman Frank Williamson, who shared their enthusiasm for the project and its significance for the communities they serve and the region at large.

The Loop Trolley will run a total of 2.2 miles through the Delmar Loop, along Delmar Blvd. and continue on DeBaliviere Ave., connecting people and neighborhoods, the past and the present. From restaurants and shopping to entertainment, recreation and the arts, riders will be able to take in the multitude of attractions to experience along the route as they enjoy both the country’s “#1 City Park” and “One of the 10 Great Streets in America.”

To learn more about The Loop Trolley and sign up for future updates regarding testing dates, additional milestones reached and future grand opening plans, visit LoopTrolley.com.

Owned by The Loop Trolley Transportation Development District and operated by The Loop Trolley Company, The Loop Trolley promotes connectivity, environmentally friendly transportation and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods to enhance quality of life, increase tourism and help spur economic development. For details, visit www.looptrolley.com, where residents can sign up to receive regular updates via email, call 314-725-2115 or email info@looptrolley.com. For additional information, like the Loop Trolley on Facebook at facebook.com/looptrolley or follow the organization on Twitter @LoopTrolley.

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