St. Louis’ Turn-of-the-Century Transit Renaissance

Heartland Urbanist looks the past and future of the second biggest subway system in the Midwest.

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On his YouTube channel Heartland Urbanist, Columbus-based organizer Matt Caffrey digs into the story behind St. Louis’s light metro system. In the mid-1980s, while many other transit agencies were moving toward developing trams – slow street-running light rail – St. Louis made the bold choice to build a light rail system on dedicated right of way.

Opened in 1993, it’s now a 46-mile light rail system with two lines and 6.7 million riders in 2022. It’s also, he explains, a massive driver of private investment. Part of the reason why residents and visitors are able to take advantage of this system was local organizers with a St. Louis nonprofit, Citizens for Modern Transit. The group’s advocacy continues today; last year it even secured nearly $12 million in state funding for high-quality transit.

Watch the video to learn move about the system’s origins plus what’s on its horizon. Subscribe to Heartland Urbanist’s channel for more videos on urbanism in the American midwest, and follow Caffrey on Mastodon.

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Aysha Khan is the managing editor at Next City.

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Tags: light railst. louis

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