Trolley Track
Graham Renz

It almost isn’t funny anymore; actually, it hasn’t been funny for a long time. The roll out of the Delmar Loop Trolley line has been, for at least the 6th time now, delayed. The project, originally slated to operate in 2016, was threatened by the Federal Transit Administration and has hit other snags too.

Trolley officials “hope” their project will be up and running within the next month or two.

It feels as if I’ve written or said this more times than the project has actually been delayed, but: it’s hard to see the Loop Trolley as anything besides a policy disaster. Not only is there little evidence that the Trolley will accomplish all that its proponents promise, like increased transit-oriented development, but its leadership has rolled things out so poorly that it seems hard for the public to take the project seriously at all (see Exhibit A). It’s also hugely over-budget.

So, at this point, what do we do? How can we, or policymakers, try to make the current, regrettable situation any better? My suggestion is this: Spare us all the misery and simply admit you’ve got no clue when the Trolley will be up and running. Maybe you (Loop Trolley officials) have an idea of when it will be up and running, and maybe this time that idea is based on reliable information—who knows? Even so, the public has been toyed with so much that the best thing to do—the least damaging, that is—is to just say, “We don’t know when the Trolley will be up and running.”

As an academic and researcher, I’ve learned that sometimes (a lot of the time, actually) you need to admit that you just don’t know the answer to a question. Sometimes you can do far more damage by providing an answer that you’re unsure of than admitting you just don’t know the answer. Officials involved with the Loop Trolley project should, more than many others, understand this point.

About the Author

Graham Renz
Policy Analyst

Graham Renz is a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute.