Northstar Turning 1 With Lagging Ridership

By Telly Mamayek, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — By the end of the year, Northstar’s ridership is expected to be 15 to 20 percent behind expectations and Metro Transit says it is partly to blame on high unemployment.

“The fact that fewer people are going to work is magnified by the Northstar line,” said company spokesman Bob Gibbons.

He also cites lower gas prices than when the line began service in 2009 and road improvements on U.S. Highway 10.

The 40-mile line between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis finished the month of September only 5 percent behind ridership projections because of special events like Twins games, but now the true ridership picture is being revealed.

“When we built the budget for Northstar, we expected ridership would grow, but we haven’t seen that,” said Gibbons.

Gibbons said they’ll finish the year at 715,000 rides, far short of the 890,000 rides projected.

Because of lagging ridership, Metro Transit has decided against applying for federal money to extend the line from Big Lake to St. Cloud.

The Northstar commuter rail line marks its one-year anniversary on Nov. 16. To celebrate, Metro Transit will offer free rides next Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • brian hoffman

    the main reason is it is too expensive the bus from elk river was cheaper .my wife and I now take the ramsey bus .If this goes away we will start driving again.A bus lane in my opinion would have made more sense .people I talk to at bus stop feel the same way

  • jon

    Its is a great addition to help move people from place to place. I ride it often and love the convenience.

  • JEB

    The price for a ticket is way too high.

  • swede160

    It’s cheaper to drive in to MPLS and park.
    The ticket price for commuters will have to go down quite a bit
    before they see a significant increase in ridership.

  • montiman

    I live in Monticello and my wife takes the train downtown every day. The cost to take the train is less than driving in and parking. And no matter the weather, she can sit in a nice warm train and read a book, take a nap, or just relax the whole way to work instead of fighting traffic, stressing about bad weather, etc.

  • jas

    the price is too high and it takes longer for me to park my car, take the train and then wait again for the light rail connection than it does to just drive my car downtown

  • Kyle

    The price is way too high and the schedule times it runs is not flexible.

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  • Josh

    The Northstar fairs are too high! Busses from the Coon Rapids Station used to only charge $3.00, now it costs $4.00 to take the train. Plus the train’s are only at the station for 45 seconds, meaning if your late you must wait a half an hour for the next one, unlike busses at nearby Foley Park and Ride, where there is always a bus waiting, and they depart every five minutes! Travel time from the Foley Park and Ride to downtown is the same by both bus, and train, the choice is easy, I know many riders who switched to Foley bacause of the inconvience of the train. Increase the speed along the rail yard, increase number of trips, and decrease passenger fees= more ridership.

  • Dave S.

    How much money does it cost MTC for each person that rides the train, compared to the amount of money that MTC collects from the fare’s ?

  • Ginny

    I don’t take the Northstar because it’s faster to take the bus. The Northstar is very slow between Downtown and Coon Rapids, where I live. It only makes 5 trips Downtown in the morning and in the afternoon. Also, If the light rail is late, which it often is, you miss the Commuter train.

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