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.
MetroLink is operated by the Bi-State Development Agency, operating as Metro since 2003, in a shared fare system with the MetroBus lines. Despite officially being called "light rail," it features many characteristics of a light metro or rapid transit service, including a completely independent right of way, higher top speed, and all high level platforms.
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. Service was operated with 31 high-floor light rail vehicles. 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. At that time another station, East Riverfront, was opened in East St. Louis. Four years later, in 1998, the Lambert Airport East station was added. 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).
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.
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.
The Cross County Extension from Forest Park-DeBaliviere station to Shrewsbury-Lansdowne-I-44 station opened to the public on August 26, 2006Washington University, Clayton, the popular Saint Louis Galleria shopping center, Maplewood, and Shrewsbury to the system. 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.. This 8-mile (13 km), 9-station extension connected
On October 27, 2008Emerson 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., 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
Below is a list of dates on which parts of the MetroLink system opened for service.
|July 31, 1993||Line opens between North Hanley and 5th & Missouri||16||13.9 miles (22 km)|
|May 14, 1994||East Riverfront opens between existing stations||1||—|
|June 25, 1994||Extension to Lambert Airport Main opens||1||3.15 miles (5.1 km)|
|December 23, 1998||Lambert Airport East opens between existing stations||1||—|
|May 5, 2001||Extension to College opens||8||17.4 miles (28 km)|
|June 23, 2003||Extension to Shiloh-Scott opens||1||3.5 miles (6 km)|
|August 26, 2006||Extension to Shrewsbury-Lansdowne I-44 opens||9||8 miles (13 km)|
|July 31, 2018||Cortex opens between existing stations||1||—|
|Total||38||46 miles (74 km)|
Current Rail LinesEdit
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, 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".
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".
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.
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 Arch–Laclede'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.
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. The cars are powered by an electric motor which gets its electricity from a catenary wire with a 750 volt supply.
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.
As of July 2021, there are plans to replace the SD-400s and refurbish the remaining cars.
|Unit Type||Year Built||Quantity||Numbers|
|Siemens SD400 LRV||1991–1993||31||1001–1031|
|Siemens SD460 LRV||1999||10||2001–2010|
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. 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.
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.
Extensions in progressEdit
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.
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. 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.
- 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 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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