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Loop Trolley ridership lower than projected, but supporters urge patience

Supporters ask residents to be patient. They said the long, cold winter affected turnout, and there's a third trolley coming soon.

ST. LOUIS — Melodie Carr-Winston walks her 3-year-old son, Simeon, through the process to buy his first Delmar Loop Trolley, pulling one ticket from the kiosk and letting him grab his own.

"Can you get the next one?" she asks as the St. Louis family gets ready for their first ride since the trolley started service in November.

"We actually came out once this past fall to ride the trolley, but the sun went down, and then it got really really cold," Carr-Winston said. "We had the kids with us so we didn't figure all this out."

Ridership isn't what trolley supporters and backers had hoped, with numbers close to a fourth of early projections.

"Until the third car is certified, it is not running the way it was designed so I'm not worried a bit," trolley supporter Joe Edwards said.

Edwards, owner of Delmar Boulevard's Blueberry Hill, has been a key figure behind the trolley and says the long, cold winter took a toll on trolley attendance. He expects warmer weather will boost numbers.

"The numbers are is skyrocketing this weekend," Edwards said. "If everybody in St. Louis would be patient for this project to go through four seasons — spring, summer, fall — and then make a decision about whether they like it or not. I think they're going to find 'Yes, we do.'"

When we checked with other restaurants, managers at one establishment — Pi Pizzeria — said they expect the trolley may have hampered foot traffic. They lost parking and patio space to the trolley platform directly outside the front door.

As the trolley pulls up, the Carr-Winston family climbs aboard, hoping this is their first ride with many to come.

"He loves trains and trolleys, so he's been waiting for a long time to get on the trolley," Melodie said of her young son.