After months of delays the $51-million Delmar Loop trolley finally opened on November 15, 2018. Now locals and tourists alike can ride from the U-City library at the entrance to the Loop to the northern part of Forest Park at the Missouri History Museum. The whole line maybe only 2.2-miles of fixed route track, but it covers a lot area along Delmar with stops strategically placed along the way.
Upon riding it earlier this month I noticed crowds waiting to ride at the History Museum stop. It looks like ridership is great, but who knows after a few months whether or not it’ll increase or dwindle. However, this is without some issues. Ticket machines don’t start selling tickets until noon, yet the first train arrives 10 minutes prior to noon. This caused delay in departure as riders line up to buy tickets to ride the trolley. Many riders had a hard time figuring out how to use the machines. The machines aren’t touchscreen, instead you have to go though steps by pressing numbers just to purchase a ticket/pass. The tickets have a QR style code, which you’ll need to board the trolley.
Upon boarding the train, you’ll need to scan that QR code with the QR code reader. However, for some reason majority of the passengers boarding were unable to get their codes to scan. Even the conductor/operator tried to help, but to no avail. The departure then was further delayed as passengers had problems scanning their QR codes. Once the train was ready to go, it was already over 10 minutes behind schedule. The operator was trying to make up the time by going faster, using the horn constantly down
DeBaliviere Ave. I am sure the NIMBYs are furious about the loud horns these trolleys have!
The whole 2.2 mile trip from end to end took almost an hour, which is slow, but given the delays and traffic its somewhat understandable. The traffic on Delmar can sometimes be horrible, plus ticket machine issues at stops along Delmar caused delays as well. Passengers at these stops had the same issue as what happened at the History Museum stop.
Aside from the problematic ticket machines and QR code scanners onboard the trolley, another downside is the trolley only operates Thursday to Sunday. There is no service Monday to Wednesday. Also, the fares are separate from St. Louis Metro and must be purchased separately. One ride costs $2.00 while a day pass is $5.00. Many passengers will ride the trolley regardless due to convenience and nostalgia. In my opinion the Loop trolley needs to integrate its fare structure with Metro. A suggestion for the Delmar Trolley is to install RFID card readers onboard to allow riders with Metro’s Gateway cards to pay onboard.
I want to see this trolley succeed. It definitely brings vibe to the Loop with the colorful streetcars. Each stop has a little history lesson or facts about the area around the stop, which is great as it gives everyone a treat down nostalgic lane. I enjoyed the ride down memory lane. Hopefully, the kinks can get worked out quickly.