MetroLink (St. Louis)

MetroLink (reporting mark BSDA) is the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan mass transit system serving Missouri and the Metro East area of Illinois. The system consists of two rail lines (Red Line and Blue Line) connecting St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Shrewsbury, Missouri, with Scott Air Force Base near Shiloh, Illinois, Washington University, Forest Park, and Downtown St. Louis. The system operates as a subway in Downtown St. Louis and through portions near Forest Park to the west. The system features 38 stations and is the only light rail system in the country to cross state lines. In 2021, the system had a ridership of 5,883,700, or about 19,100 per weekday as of the fourth quarter of 2021. As of the third quarter of 2020, it is second only to Minneapolis Metro Transit in the Midwestern United States in terms of light rail ridership, and is the 11th-largest light rail system in the country.[6]

St Louis MetroLink Logo.svg
St. Louis Metro Train
St. Louis Metro Train
LocaleGreater St. Louis
Transit typeLight rail
Number of lines2
Number of stations38
Daily ridership19,100 (weekdays, Q4 2021)[1]
Annual ridership5,883,700 (2021)[1]
HeadquartersSt. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Began operationJuly 31, 1993 (1993-07-31)[2]
Operator(s)Bi-State Development Agency (Metro Transit)
Reporting marksBSDA
Number of vehicles87
Train length2 articulated vehicles
Headway12–20 minutes
System length46 mi (74 km)[3]
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead line, 750 V DC[4][5]
Average speed24.7 mph (40 km/h)
Top speed65 mph (105 km/h)

MetroLink is operated by the Bi-State Development Agency, operating as Metro since 2003,[7] in a shared fare system with the MetroBus lines.[8] Despite officially being called "light rail," it features many characteristics of a light metro or rapid transit service,[9][10] including a completely independent right of way, higher top speed, and all high level platforms.[10][11]


The 1874-built Eads Bridge carries both MetroLink tracks across the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois on its lower rail deck, under the road.

Construction on the initial MetroLink alignment from St. Louis Lambert International Airport to the 5th & Missouri station in East St Louis began in 1990. The initial 17-mile (27 km) segment with 19 stations opened on July 31, 1993, between the North Hanley and 5th & Missouri stations.[2] Service was operated with 31 high-floor light rail vehicles.[12] About 14 miles of the original 17 miles were on existing rail right-of-way. The first phase of MetroLink was complete when the line was extended westward to Lambert Airport Main station on June 25, 1994.[13][14] At that time another station, East Riverfront, was opened in East St. Louis.[15] Four years later, in 1998, the Lambert Airport East station was added.[16] The capital cost to build the initial phase of MetroLink was $465 million. Of that amount, $348 million was supplied by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).[17]

Brand-new Siemens SD-400 unit on the then-newly opened MetroLink system in 1993.

Construction on the St. Clair County MetroLink extension from the 5th & Missouri station to the College station in Belleville began in 1998 and opened in May 2001. The extension added eight new stations and seven park-ride lots. The total project cost was $339.2 million, with the FTA and St. Clair County Transit District sharing the burden at 72% ($243.9 million) and 28% ($95.2 million), respectively. Local funding was provided by the St. Clair County Transit District as a result of a 1/2 cent sales tax passed in November 1993.[17]

In May 2003, a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) extension from Southwestern Illinois College to Shiloh-Scott station opened. This $75 million project was funded by a $60 million grant from the Illinois FIRST (Fund for Infrastructure, Roads, Schools, and Transit) Program and $15 million from the St. Clair County Transit District.[17]

The Cross County Extension from Forest Park-DeBaliviere station to Shrewsbury-Lansdowne-I-44 station opened to the public on August 26, 2006 (2006-08-26). This 8-mile (13 km), 9-station extension connected Washington University, Clayton, the popular Saint Louis Galleria shopping center, Maplewood, and Shrewsbury to the system.[18] The entire project was funded by a $430 million Metro bond issue. Metro cited repeated delays and cost overruns as its reasons for firing its general contractor in Summer 2004. Metro sued the Collaborative for $81 million for fraud and mismanagement. The Collaborative counter-sued for $17 million for work that Metrolink hadn't yet paid for. On December 1, 2007, a jury voted in favor of the Cross County Collaborative, awarding them $2.56 million for work as yet unpaid for.

On October 27, 2008 (2008-10-27), Metro renamed the two MetroLink lines using color designations: the Lambert Airport branch was renamed to the Red Line; the Shrewsbury branch, the Blue Line. Service was also extended on the Blue Line from its former terminus at Emerson Park to Fairview Heights. All trains have a red or blue sign on the front that identify the train as a Red Line or Blue Line train, and all operators make station announcements identifying the Red Line or Blue Line.[12][19]

On September 9, 2014 (2014-09-09), the United States Department of Transportation announced $10.3 million in funding for a new Metrolink station between the Central West End and Grand stations in the Cortex research district. An additional $5 million in funding was provided by a public-private partnership including Washington University, BJC HealthCare, Great Rivers Greenway and the Cortex Innovation Community. The new Cortex station, located just east of Boyle Avenue, opened to the public on July 31, 2018 (2018-07-31).[20]


Below is a list of dates on which parts of the MetroLink system opened for service.

Date Event Stations Length
July 31, 1993 (1993-07-31)[21] Line opens between North Hanley and 5th & Missouri 16 13.9 miles (22 km)
May 14, 1994 (1994-05-14)[21] East Riverfront opens between existing stations 1
June 25, 1994 (1994-06-25)[21] Extension to Lambert Airport Main opens 1 3.15 miles (5.1 km)
December 23, 1998 (1998-12-23)[21] Lambert Airport East opens between existing stations 1
May 5, 2001 (2001-05-05)[21] Extension to College opens 8 17.4 miles (28 km)
June 23, 2003 (2003-06-23)[21] Extension to Shiloh-Scott opens 1 3.5 miles (6 km)
August 26, 2006 (2006-08-26)[22] Extension to Shrewsbury-Lansdowne I-44 opens 9 8 miles (13 km)
July 31, 2018 (2018-07-31)[23] Cortex opens between existing stations 1
Total 38 46 miles (74 km)

Current Rail LinesEdit

Red LineEdit

The Red Line is a total of 38 miles with 29 stations. It begins at St. Louis Lambert International Airport's Terminal 1 and heads east serving Terminal 2. It proceeds through Berkeley before making a stop at North Hanley with numerous bus connections serving North St. Louis County. It then makes two stops (UMSL North and South stations) at the University of Missouri St Louis campus located in Normandy. The line continues along the old Wabash Railroad right-of-way until Grand Avenue,[14][21] making stops in Pagedale at Rock Road and in Wellston, before crossing the county line at Skinker Boulevard and stopping at Delmar in the popular Delmar Loop area. The Red Line meets up with the Blue Line at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere station. The two lines share track From this station until the Fairview Heights station in St. Clair County. For the rest of the Red Line, see "Shared alignment".

Blue LineEdit

A view of a Blue Line train approaching the Civic Center platform near the Enterprise Center.

The Blue Line starts in Shrewsbury just to the west of River des Peres. It crosses Interstate 44 and then continues northeast till the next 2 stations located in Maplewood, one at the Sunnen Industrial Complex, the other at Manchester Road. From there, it continues north to the Brentwood I-64 station located in Brentwood just south of Interstate 64. It then proceeds underneath Interstate 64, continuing to the Richmond Heights station in Richmond Heights. This station serves the popular St. Louis Galleria shopping center. Following that it proceeds to Clayton station in Clayton, serving the Central Business District of St. Louis County. From here, it continues in a tunnel right under Forest Park Parkway, making stops at Forsyth Boulevard and Big Bend Boulevard in University City, serving Washington University. It then makes a stop at Skinker Boulevard in St. Louis City, before meeting the Red Line at Forest Park DeBaliviere station. It is 24 miles long, with 22 stations. For the rest of the Blue Line, see "Shared alignment".

Red and Blue Lines Shared alignmentEdit

MetroLink system diagram showing current Red and Blue Line alignment

Both MetroLink lines meet at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere station and continue for 14 more stations east on shared tracks until the Blue Line terminates at Fairview Heights.[24]

From the Forest Park station, the trains continue to the Central West End station, serving the Barnes-Jewish Hospital complex and the popular Euclid Avenue shopping district. From there, it proceeds to the Grand station under the Grand Boulevard viaduct, which services the St. Louis University complex and hospital. The trains pass under the Jefferson Avenue viaduct before they enter the next station near Union Station, located underneath 18th Street just near the popular Union Station. A short distance later, the trains stop at the Civic Center Station, with transfer to the Gateway Transportation Center and the Enterprise Center. The trains then continue to run parallel under the 14th Street and Tucker Boulevard viaducts to the elevated section of Interstate 64 until the Busch Stadium station, originally serving the old, and now the new Busch Stadium. From then on, the line goes underground into a subway tunnel with stations at 8th & Pine streets, and the Convention Center under Washington Avenue and 6th Street, serving The Dome at America's Center. It then makes stops on both sides of the Eads Bridge at ArchLaclede's Landing station and at the East Riverfront station in East St Louis, which serves the Casino Queen Gambling Casino & Hotel. From there, it runs at-grade from the 5th & Missouri station till the Fairview Heights station in Fairview Heights, Illinois. Here, the Blue line trains terminate, and the Red line trains continue until the line terminus at Shiloh-Scott AFB station at the gate to the base in Shiloh, Illinois.

Loop Trolley Streetcar LineEdit

The Loop Trolley is a 2.2-mile (3.5 km), 10-station heritage streetcar line in and near the Delmar Loop area of greater St. Louis, Missouri. In February 2022, Metro Transit voted to integrate the Loop Trolley streetcar line into the mass transit system. The line connects transit riders at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere and Delmar stations. The line connects the popular Delmar Loop and Forest Park, and the West End, Skinker-DeBaliviere, and DeBaliviere Place neighborhoods of the city. The systems fare integration and cost are still under consideration. The set Metro operating date is June 1, 2022.[25]

Rolling stockEdit

Interior of a MetroLink light-rail vehicle.

MetroLink operates a fleet of 87 light-rail vehicles composed of 31 SD-400 and 56 SD-460 vehicles. Each 90-foot (27 m), single articulated vehicle has 4 high platform doors per side and has a capacity of 72 seated and 106 standing passengers.[26][27] The cars are powered by an electric motor which gets its electricity from a catenary wire with a 750 volt supply.[28]

Each car has an enclosed operator cab at each end. This allows the most flexible system for managing operations, but prevents travel between cars except at stations. Each car also has separate doors for station level and track level access. In normal operations the track level doors (equipped with stairs) are unused.

The system also has two different railroad yards along the line for the storage and maintenance of light-rail vehicles: Ewing Yard is located between the Grand and Union Station stops just west of downtown St. Louis; 29th Street Yard is located between the JJK and Washington Park stops in Illinois. In October 2009, Metro had opened a paint booth facility in the Illinois railyard in East St. Louis, Illinois at a cost of $1.1 million.[29]

As of July 2021, there are plans to replace the SD-400s and refurbish the remaining cars.[30]

Roster informationEdit

Unit Type Year Built Quantity Numbers[31]
Siemens SD400 LRV 1991–1993 31[32] 1001–1031
Siemens SD460 LRV 1999 10 2001–2010
2000 24 3001–3024
2004–2005 22 4001–4022


A MetroLink train approaching the Grand station platform in midtown St Louis prior to 2011 reconstruction.

MetroLink uses a proof-of-payment system. Tickets can be purchased at ticket vending machines at the entrance to all stations and must be validated before boarding the train. Single ride tickets are good for up to two hours in the direction that a passenger initially boards.[12] Some fares, such as monthly or weekly fares, do not need to be validated, but passengers must have the pass in their possession while riding and must show the pass to security personnel upon request. Passengers may also load fares onto a Gateway Card, a multi-use smart card that can be obtained at Metro's downtown retail store. In order to validate this fare type, passengers must tap their Gateway Card on the card reader at any validation machine before boarding. Metro is still in the process of fully implementing the Gateway Card. At full implementation, Metro plans to eliminate most paper passes and tickets, and passengers will be able to obtain a Gateway Card online or at any Metrolink Gateway vending machine at each station.

As part of Metro's Secure Platform Plan, centralized fare collection areas will be built at all 38 MetroLink stations. Other enhancements will include fare vending equipment, state-of-the-art cameras and security systems, and improved customer assistance initiatives. The project is projected to cost $52 million, which will be funded from a mix of federal, local, and private sector funds.[33]

Reduced fares can be purchased by seniors ages 65+, people with disabilities, and children ages 5–12. Up to three children under 5 may ride free with a fare-paying rider. Proof of age may be requested of all people riding with reduced fares. Other types of passes, such as a Semester Pass for full-time students are also available in addition to the fares listed above.[34]

Station galleryEdit

Extensions in progressEdit

MidAmerica AirportEdit

A 5.2 mile (8.4 km) expansion of the Red Line from Shiloh-Scott to MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah received $96 million in funding from the State of Illinois in 2019. Construction is anticipated to break ground in August 2022 and be completed in Spring 2025.[35]

Potential plans and extensionsEdit

Daniel Boone CorridorEdit

Clayton to Westport

A study performed in 2000 recommended a new MetroLink line from Clayton, Missouri to Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The 8–10-mile (13–16 km) line would run north from the Clayton station along the old Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis "Central Belt" right-of-way paralleling I-170, then turn west to follow existing Union Pacific Railroad trackage operated by Central Midland Railway to Page where the line would then follow Page Avenue to Westport Plaza.[36][37] This future alignment will add up to six stations between Clayton and Maryland Heights in the I-170-Page Corridor. Metro officials have suggested that this line could be the next MetroLink extension to be built.[38][39]

MetroNorth CorridorEdit

MetroNorth Corridor – Clayton to Florissant

This 12-mile (19 km) extension project would extend the current Blue Line from Clayton to North County into Florissant. Like the Daniel Boone line, some of it will follow along the old Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis "Central Belt" right-of-way paralleling I-170.

MetroSouth CorridorEdit

MetroSouth Corridor – Shrewsbury to Butler Hill

This 12-mile (19 km) extension project would extend the current Blue Line from its terminus in Shrewsbury further into South County beyond I-270/I-255 to Butler Hill Road. An environmental impact study was completed in 2004; however, selection of a locally preferred alternative was deferred due to the lack of local funding sources as well as many other factors.[40]

North-South MetroLink CorridorEdit

NorthSide Corridor- Downtown to Goodfellow & I-70 to St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley

The 12-mile (19 km) extension starts north from Downtown St Louis further northwest to the Florissant Valley Community College. A study for this extension was completed in 2008 and a Locally Preferred Alternative selected.[41]

SouthSide Corridor – Downtown to Bayless to Butler Hill

The 9-or-17-mile (14 or 27 km) extension starts from Downtown to the south of St. Louis County to Bayless I-55. A study for this extension was completed in 2008 and a Locally Preferred Alternative selected. The Locally Preferred Alternative begins at the Multi-Modal Transit Center at 14th & Spruce Sts., continues south on 14th St. to Chouteau Ave., travelling west on Chouteau to Jefferson Ave., then travelling south on Jefferson to Meramec St., where it then follows a right-of-way on Interstate Highway 55 to a terminus at Bayless Ave.[42]

The North-South corridor will not feature the rapid transit like characteristics of the Red and Blue lines and will instead be similar other to light rail lines in the US, such as Houston or Phoenix, and would be separate from the rest of the system.[43][44]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2021" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 10, 2022. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "History – The 1990s – MetroLink". Bi-State Development Agency (Metro). 2010. Archived from the original on 2013-08-23. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  3. ^ "Procurement Information". Bi-State Development Agency (Metro). 2010. Archived from the original on 2013-08-18. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  4. ^ St.Louis Metro Link Project, Final Environmental Impact Statement. U.S Department of Transportation Urban Mass Transportation Administration, East-West Gateway Coordinating Council. 9 October 1987. pp. 2–26. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  5. ^ "A Lesson for Jacksonville: The St. Louis Metrolink". Metro Jacksonville. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  6. ^ "APTA Q3 2020 Light Rail Transit Ridership Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-01-03. Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  7. ^ "Bi-State Development Agency Adopts "Metro" As New Name" (PDF) (Press release). Metro. 2003-01-24. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-24. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  8. ^ "Fare Increase 2014". Archived from the original on 2016-04-16. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  9. ^ Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit. Transportation Research Board. 2012. ISBN 978-0-309-25824-1.
  10. ^ a b Page 671
  11. ^ Henry, Lyndon (2006). Sharing of Rail Transit Infrastructure by Streetcars and Larger Light Rail Vehicles: Design and Operational Issues. ISBN 978-1-931594-23-3.
  12. ^ a b c " St. Louis, Missouri". Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  13. ^ Tipton, Virgil (1994-06-22). "Takeoff: MetroLink Opens Lambert Stop Saturday". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  14. ^ a b Fox, Tim (1995-01-01). Where We Live: A Guide to St. Louis Communities. Missouri History Museum. ISBN 978-1-883982-12-6.
  15. ^ Goodrich, Robert (1994-04-27). "East St. Louis Starring in MetroLink". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  16. ^ "2nd MetroLink station opens at Lambert". St. Louis Business Journal. 1998-12-23. Retrieved 2008-08-07.
  17. ^ "Metro Announces August 26 Grand Opening Date for Cross County MetroLink Extension" (PDF) (Press release). Metro. 7 August 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  18. ^ "Service Changes Effective October 27, 2008" (PDF) (Press release). Metro. Retrieved 2008-10-24.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ MetroLink gets creative in opening first new station in more than a decade
  20. ^ a b c d e f g "UrbanRail.Net > North America > USA > Missouri > St. Louis Metrolink". Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  21. ^ "St. Louis Metro to Launch MetroLink Extension August 26". Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  22. ^ Hemphill, Evie. "Soon-to-open Cortex MetroLink Station is more than just another stop, say regional transit leaders". Retrieved 2019-06-17.
  23. ^ "MetroLink Schematic Map Saint Louis" (PDF). Metro. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 28, 2016. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Siemens AG – Projects – Rolling Stock". Siemens. Archived from the original on 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2007-01-23.
  26. ^ "SD460 High-Floor Light Rail Vehicle – St. Louis, Missouri" (PDF). Siemens. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-10. Retrieved 2015-02-10.
  27. ^ "The St. Louis Streetcar and MetroLink: Compatibility Issues to Address Before Expansion – nextSTL". nextSTL. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  28. ^ "Capital Projects Update: Illinois Paint Booth | NextStop STL | Saint Louis, Missouri". Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  29. ^ "@MetroSTL". Twitter. July 26, 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  30. ^ "Modern Urban Rail Systems". Bi-State Transit Info & Roster. Archived from the original on 2012-08-19.
  31. ^ Equipment Railway Age January 1990 page 8
  32. ^ "MetroLink Update: Secure Platform Plan". MetroLink St. Louis. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  33. ^ "Fare Chart". Metro. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  34. ^ "Trajectory for Transit in 2022 Points to Need for Continued Collaboration". 2022-01-19. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  35. ^ "MetroLink Planning – Daniel Boone". East-West Gateway. Archived from the original on March 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
  36. ^ "St. Louis RR Maps".
  37. ^ Hilligand, Terry; Bryant, Tim (2008-07-29). "Commuters in St. Charles, Madison counties still waiting for the train". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  38. ^ Leiser, Ken (2008-10-30). "St. Louis County MetroLink expansion: West Port Ho!". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  39. ^ "East-West Gateway Board Defers Selection of MetroLink Alternative for Metro South Study Area" (PDF). East-West Gateway. 3 November 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 May 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  40. ^ "MetroLink Planning – Northside". East-West Gateway. Archived from the original on August 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  41. ^ "MetroLink Planning – Southside". East-West Gateway. Archived from the original on March 26, 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  42. ^[bare URL PDF]
  43. ^ "Claiming It Would "Divide Us", Stenger Opposes North-South Rail Transit – NextSTL". 20 June 2016.

External linksEdit