The 1960s

Public Transit in the St. Louis region

In the 1950's, the public transit industry in the St. Louis region was in the hands of 15 private firms.  However, a lack of transfers and coordination among the different transit systems discouraged ridership, raised costs to passengers and caused economic hardship for the firms.  By 1960, the plight of public transit in the region was one of the top news stories of the year.  A study commissioned by the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County recommended a unified, regional approach to the public transit situation.

In response, St. Louis County Supervisor James McNary proposed that the Bi-State Development Agency (BSDA) acquire all transit facilities in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the Illinois counties of St. Clair and Madison, and operate them as a coordinated, single system.

In 1963, the BSDA officially took over operations of the transit facilities it purchased from the region's 15 private firms.

Flying High

In the early 1960's, regional leaders recognized the need to develop reliever airports for Lambert International Airport.  In 1964, the BSDA purchased the Parks Metropolitan Airport in Cahokia/Sauget, Illinois from owner Oliver Parks, who had closed the facility and planned to redevelop it as a housing subdivision.  In 1965, the Agency reopened the facility, now known as St. Louis Downtown Airport.

A Monumental Undertaking

Construction was about to begin on the Gateway Arch in 1962.  The BSDA was asked to finance the tram system to carry visitors to the top of the monument.

The Agency financed construction of the system through the sale of revenue bonds and today operates the system in cooperation with the National Park Service.  The Gateway Arch was completed in 1965, and the Arch Transportation tram system was opened to the public in 1967.

Next: the 1970's & 1980's