St. Louis downtown electric shuttles to offer free transportation
The City of St. Louis is offering residents and visitors free electric shuttles around the downtown area for the next year.
The STL Downtown Link includes the area between Cass Avenue and Clark Street and between 20th Street and Laclede's Landing. The city will use about $240,000 from the American Rescue Plan to run the pilot program for about a year. It follows a similar program launched in 2018 that the city discontinued after funding expired, said Alderman James Page, D-5th Ward.
Page said the shuttle service relies on the same Polaris electric vehicles used by the earlier program but is expanding to parts of north St. Louis where many people do not own cars, Page said.
“This will allow seniors to take the service to their grocery stores,” Page said. “It'll allow them to take the service to health care providers that are within the service area.”
The city is working with the St. Louis County-based company Labyrinth Smart Mobility, which will manage the shuttles. The company's two electric vehicle shuttles can seat five passengers. Patrons can request a ride through an app or by calling the dispatch number from the shuttle zone.
The company will use the app's data to determine demand, said Mark Minden, executive vice president of business development for Labyrinth Mobility.
“From that data, we'll be able to tell what the demand is for a service like this downtown,” Minden said. “It is our hope that we have engaged in our mission to engage enough stakeholders, whether it's hotels, our entertainment districts, the city, the nonprofits, the community improvement districts, all the different stakeholders, to engage and create a long-term system.”
Minden said the service is not competing with other public transportation options like the MetroLink, but instead would complement the buses by offering transportation to bus stops.
“The biggest challenge of utilizing mass transit is getting to it,” Minden said. “We can literally pick somebody up from their front door and take them to the MetroLink.“
The shuttles run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday
Page said he hopes the program will expand to other areas in years to come if the city can secure funding.
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