Northstar commuter train expansion put on hold

RELATED TOPICS: TRANSIT
Trains Industry Newsletter
Get a weekly roundup of the industry news you need.
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine. View our privacy policy.
ANOKA, Minn. – Minnesota’s Northstar commuter train service has placed an indefinite hold on plans to expand the service to St. Cloud, Minn.

Northstar began operation on Nov. 16, 2009, between Minneapolis and Big Lake, Minn. When the service was first proposed, it was to operate from St. Cloud to Minneapolis, but changes in the Federal Transit Administration’s funding rules resulted in cutting the service back to Big Lake, with the intention of expanding to St. Cloud at a later date. Those plans have now been put on hold.

The Northstar Corridor Development Authority Executive Committee said that it could not justify the costs of expanding Northstar at this time. The Committee said projected ridership for the extension to St. Cloud would not meet the strict standards for federal matching funds. This combined with the worst recession in 70 years, high unemployment rates, shifts in traffic volumes, and gasoline and parking price fluctuations have already affected ridership growth on the current route.

In place of the train, operator Twin Cities Metro Transit operates Northstar Link, a bus connection between St. Cloud and the train station in Big Lake. The committee said it would focus on building ridership on the link to build commuter train ridership.

Even though the expansion has been put on hold, the present Northstar service has been performing as expected in its first year. Northstar customers have ridden more than 16 million passenger miles, trains have operated on time 96 percent of the time, and operating costs are below budget.
ANOKA, Minn. – Minnesota’s Northstar commuter train service has placed an indefinite hold on plans to expand the service to St. Cloud, Minn.

Northstar began operation on Nov. 16, 2009, between Minneapolis and Big Lake, Minn. When the service was first proposed, it was to operate from St. Cloud to Minneapolis, but changes in the Federal Transit Administration’s funding rules resulted in cutting the service back to Big Lake, with the intention of expanding to St. Cloud at a later date. Those plans have now been put on hold.

The Northstar Corridor Development Authority Executive Committee said that it could not justify the costs of expanding Northstar at this time. The Committee said projected ridership for the extension to St. Cloud would not meet the strict standards for federal matching funds. This combined with the worst recession in 70 years, high unemployment rates, shifts in traffic volumes, and gasoline and parking price fluctuations have already affected ridership growth on the current route.

In place of the train, operator Twin Cities Metro Transit operates Northstar Link, a bus connection between St. Cloud and the train station in Big Lake. The committee said it would focus on building ridership on the link to build commuter train ridership.

Even though the expansion has been put on hold, the present Northstar service has been performing as expected in its first year. Northstar customers have ridden more than 16 million passenger miles, trains have operated on time 96 percent of the time, and operating costs are below budget.
Leave a Comment
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of TrainsMag.com are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Please keep your feedback on-topic and respectful. Trains staffers reserve the right to edit or delete any comments.
0 COMMENTS
Big Boy

Big Boy

All about the world's biggest locomotive

SEE INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Learn more about the stories and photos in this months issue

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy
Subscribe Up To 54% off the newsstand price!
Subscribe To Trains Mag Today
+