Northstar Commuter Rail

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
Tcmetro
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Tcmetro » October 6th, 2014, 11:16 am

Northstar schedules were adjusted by a few minutes today. End-to-end travel time has increased to 52 minutes as well, to increase reliability. Schedules for routes 20 (9th/10th Streets) and 887 (Big Lake - St. Cloud Express) were adjusted also.

http://www.metrotransit.org/new-northst ... nday-oct-6

holmstar
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby holmstar » October 13th, 2014, 7:14 am

Anyone hear of any ridership numbers since the green line opened? I know they've had some trouble with delays due to freight traffic that might be pushing ridership down, but I'm curious if the green line caused a bump at all.

twincitizen
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby twincitizen » October 13th, 2014, 8:06 am

Great question, I'd be interested as well. The Green Line has twofold benefit for Northstar riders:
a. LRT coming twice as frequently for destinations within downtown
b. Actual destinations along the Green Line (probably just the U of M area though...can't imagine many Northstar riders heading deep into St. Paul, though perhaps a few take the 94 bus out of Ramp B)

grant1simons2
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby grant1simons2 » October 21st, 2014, 6:19 pm

The Foley Blvd Station area plan is going to be voted on November 5th by the Coon Rapids city council, here is the plan. http://156.142.25.25/docs/2014/PLANReg/ ... 14_web.pdf

Does anyone know if MT and Northstar have talked more about this station? And what about the St. Cloud route? Are they waiting for ridership to go up or is it a rail issue with BNSF

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Silophant » October 21st, 2014, 8:59 pm

Seems like they're putting a little too much thought into planning around a station on a train line their county is trying to kill.

As far as Northstar extending to St. Cloud, I don't see it happening until A) BNSF pulls their heads out of their asses with regards to delaying commuters to let oil trains go through; and B) a dedicated transit tax becomes available. So... 2040? 2050?

Suburban Outcast
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Suburban Outcast » October 21st, 2014, 9:14 pm

They should at least have the Foley Blvd station be built, which would transfer some of the park and ride commuter ridership from bus to rail. While there wouldn't be a massive improvement in travel time switching from the express buses, it still doesn't make sense that Northstar goes by the largest existing park and ride and has no access to it. It may be already 95% full, but I take that as a sign that this area draws quite a few downtown workers and therefore this could allow TOD in that area like that plan shows (though the master plan would probably never be fully envisoned). They still could run the 850/852 express buses at times when the train isn't in service/has long headway gaps.

I think if they really want to expand their ridership to 5,000 by 2030 without going to St. Cloud, then they will have to utilize this P&R lot more.

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » October 22nd, 2014, 8:14 am

Between the 850 and 852 (expresses from Foley) there are 37 AM rush hour departures to Minneapolis, dropping off on Marquette.

There are 5 AM Northstar departures to Minneapolis, dropping off in the North Loop.

Which one would you take?

Silophant
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Silophant » October 22nd, 2014, 8:38 am

The train.

But I'll freely admit that I have a stupid high rail bias, as well as an office location not terribly far from Target Field, and I actually enjoy walking through downtown.

twincitizen
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby twincitizen » October 22nd, 2014, 9:32 am

Northern Lights Express to Duluth getting funded is probably the path of least resistance for getting the Foley Station built this decade (or early next decade). If the money falls from the sky, NLX could be running in 2019, barring any unforeseen setbacks. The fact that the feds would pay 80% of the capital costs for building it helps a lot. The remaining 20% would come from the state (or is it just the counties along the line?). Either way, Anoka County intransigence alone can't stop it from happening.

Why pay for it with Anoka/CTIB money when you can get it for "free" as part of a larger federal project, which also conveniently includes a second justification for its existence besides Northstar? I assume grade separation of Foley over the RR tracks would also be done at this time.

Suburban Outcast
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Suburban Outcast » October 23rd, 2014, 12:31 am

mattaudio wrote:Between the 850 and 852 (expresses from Foley) there are 37 AM rush hour departures to Minneapolis, dropping off on Marquette.

There are 5 AM Northstar departures to Minneapolis, dropping off in the North Loop.

Which one would you take?
Honestly the train if it fit my schedule. I've found trains to be a more comfortable ride especially if I am on it longer than 15-30 minutes.

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » October 23rd, 2014, 6:07 am

Have the folks saying that been on a commuter coach bus? I used to take them for 45-60 min trips, and they are plush. The rides are smooth. Completely different experience from an urban bus.

holmstar
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby holmstar » October 23rd, 2014, 6:53 am

It was reported on the radio this morning that a northstar train struck and killed a pedestrian that was walking "near" (on?) the tracks.

grant1simons2
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby grant1simons2 » October 23rd, 2014, 7:02 am

He was on the track according to the Metro Transit report, bad feeling this was a suicide but I could be wrong

mulad
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » November 15th, 2014, 10:29 pm

Some coverage from the Strib talking about Northstar's performance this past year and some mentions of fixes that have been implemented and others that are planned:

http://www.startribune.com/local/282829541.html

One specific change mentioned is the addition of switch covers -- I'm not exactly sure what those are, but here's a result that came up in a Google search: http://www.sealeze.com/ind/snowprotec.html -- looks like it wraps the points and prevents snow from accumulating between them, plus there's another wedge-shaped thing to go around the outside of the switch.

Another interesting paragraph, which could cover double-tracking the gap between Big Lake and Becker, but the stretch also includes a gap in double-tracking between Little Falls and Staples:
McBeth said that down the line, the railroad plans to undertake “large-capacity expansion efforts” in Minnesota that will include adding double track in areas from Minneapolis to Staples and in parts of the Twin Cities to “increase fluidity of train movement in the same corridor where Northstar operates.”

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » November 20th, 2014, 10:54 am

http://www.mnrides.org/transit-projects ... sit-grants
CTIB awarded "$10.2 million for the construction of safety improvements to separate commuter rail and freight rail traffic from automobile traffic on Armstrong Boulveard."

Anyone else think that's not necessarily a legitimate use of transit funds? It's a 1 mi / 17 minute walk from this RR crossing to the Ramsey platform. And there are only a handful of houses across the BNSF/Hwy 10 that could even consider walking/biking to this transit station. It seems like CTIB is once again paying for a stroadification and automobile capacity enhancement under the guise of transit.

acs
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby acs » November 20th, 2014, 11:01 am

mattaudio wrote:http://www.mnrides.org/transit-projects ... sit-grants
CTIB awarded "$10.2 million for the construction of safety improvements to separate commuter rail and freight rail traffic from automobile traffic on Armstrong Boulveard."

Anyone else think that's not necessarily a legitimate use of transit funds? It's a 1 mi / 17 minute walk from this RR crossing to the Ramsey platform. And there are only a handful of houses across the BNSF/Hwy 10 that could even consider walking/biking to this transit station. It seems like CTIB is once again paying for a stroadification and automobile capacity enhancement under the guise of transit.
Wasn't this the intersection which MNDOT is preparing to turn in to a full freeway interchange? Is this really how they are going to pay for it, under the guise of Northstar?

twincitizen
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby twincitizen » November 20th, 2014, 11:16 am

What is the total project budget for that interchange? I agree...it seems completely immaterial to Northstar, but then again, Matt Look is a person in power.

Seems like a great opportunity (in light of this, Dakota County's recent comments, prospects of spending $500MM on Gateway BRT) to ask Peter McLaughlin if this is all worth it. This is getting deep into CTIB politics, but if suburban counties were to leave CTIB (Dakota and/or Washington), CTIB would not cease to exist. A CTIB of Hennepin, Ramsey, and Anoka (to pay for Northstar operations) would be much more manageable. Anoka can't really get out due to their unfortunate Northstar obligation, and they aren't likely to push for transit expansion with their current political climate. They'd be a mostly harmless bystander to a more focused expansion of transit in Hennepin & Ramsey County.

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » November 20th, 2014, 11:18 am

Here's some background from the project study.
http://156.142.212.178/weblink8/0/doc/2 ... age67.aspx

It says MnDOT was going to build an interchange this fall... Is that underway? $10.7 million seems like it would be the cost of the interchange, not the cost of any sort of transit add-ons for the interchange. How the heck could they justify this?

Edit: The background agendas, etc, come in at P 167 of that PDF (the most recent Ramsey PW meeting doc). Some choice comments:
"A barrier is needed to prevent poor pedestrian decisions" (the Bloomington model)
"Planning changes must include all modes, including trucks" (emphasis added)

P212 shows a $33m interchange concept for Armstrong.
http://156.142.212.178/weblink8/0/doc/2 ... ge212.aspx

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby MNdible » November 20th, 2014, 11:28 am

That document appears to price the overall project at between $30m and $70m, depending on which option was selected.

twincitizen
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby twincitizen » November 20th, 2014, 11:33 am

Strib says $37.5MM total: http://www.startribune.com/local/north/263507541.html

The $10MM from CTIB really does warrant a better explanation though. Aside from adding better sidewalks/trails to the surrounding area to make connections to the station area, it isn't clear how this is at all related to Northstar operations. It's not like trains are getting stuck at red lights here. I suppose the explanation could be as simple as "Matt Look is the decider."


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