Northstar Commuter Rail

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
mattaudio
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Re: Northstar

Postby mattaudio » June 21st, 2013, 9:40 am

More reason to repurpose this into regional rail that connects Mpls to St. Cloud rather than calling it a commuter service that has only a fraction of the value capture compared to express buses.

MotorCity2TwinCities
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Re: Northstar

Postby MotorCity2TwinCities » June 21st, 2013, 9:54 am

I am unfamiliar with the Northstar's construction and St. Cloud as a city. Would connecting it to St. Cloud really make that big of a difference in the ridership numbers? Why wasn't it built all the way to St. Cloud in the first place?

mplsjaromir
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Re: Northstar

Postby mplsjaromir » June 21st, 2013, 10:13 am

Politicians saw the value of building a line between Minneapolis and St. Cloud to alleviate congestion on US HWY 10. But in order to look real serious and the guardians of the public dollar they cut it in half making the whole project pretty worthless.

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar

Postby mattaudio » June 21st, 2013, 10:30 am

Was the extension less palatable because pols were insisting on a connection with STC airport?

I think it's clear STC won't have service other than maybe some vacation charters to LV/AZ/FL, and its convenience factor would be diminished by rail connectivity to MSP. So I hope they can just scrap this idea and get onto connecting it to St. Cloud.

talindsay
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Re: Northstar

Postby talindsay » June 21st, 2013, 11:01 am

To be fair, the political issue is complex. But the short version is that T-Paw was against the project completely until the Bush administration's FTA said that the southern half of the line looked like a viable transit line, and that the project could secure funding if it were cut in half. Pawlenty became somewhat supportive of this version of the line. Bear in mind that when that choice was made, nobody had any idea how expensive the easement from BNSF would be; if I recall correctly they were estimating something in the ballpark of $25m for a 25-year easement. The decision to go with a perpetual easement was made when BNSF came back with dramatically higher costs.

MNdible
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Re: Northstar

Postby MNdible » June 21st, 2013, 11:02 am

I continue to be baffled that people think that a connection to St. Cloud will be the savior for this line. Yes, I know a few students at SCSU will use it, and people on this board will ride it for novelty, but that's not enough to make a dent in the overall numbers.

The only thing that will salvage this line is the growth of jobs in downtown Minneapolis and the build out of the suburban areas around the stations. This is a commuter line. It is what it is.

I find it really strange that many of the same people who think that NLX is a bad idea think that extending Northstar to St. Cloud is a good idea. Duluth is by far a bigger trip generator, with a more walkable downtown, and real demand from tourists.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Northstar

Postby FISHMANPET » June 21st, 2013, 11:05 am

Obviously we're not New York, but when MTA added a bunch of trips and trains to Metro North they saw ridership gains. But commuter rail as a whole isn't doing that great:
http://www.planetizen.com/node/63692

at40man
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Re: Northstar

Postby at40man » June 21st, 2013, 11:19 am

Perhaps this is anecdotal evidence, but I personally know several people who would use this line to go to St Cloud and back on a regular basis if it actually WENT to St Cloud and SPUD. I used to use it and take the "North Star Link" the rest of the way into St Cloud when my ex lived there. North Star Link is a joke - these are old motorcoaches that break down often. One of my friends has been traveling by car between Eagan and St Cloud several days a week for work, and is at wit's end over how terrible a drive it is.

For passenger rail to effectively work, it needs to go places where people want to go. It seems short-sighted to not finish the remaining 20 miles into Cloud, a place where people want to go (unlike Big Lake) and where people come from to visit the Twin Cities. The North Star doesn't work because it doesn't connect people to where they want and need to go. Given that the St Cloud airport advertises short flights between there and the Twin Cities on billboards, there must be a market and enough people who are making this trip. For such a short distance, a train would be more efficient and save a lot of time for the folks who have been flying.

Let's not forget why we got Northstar to begin with: it was better use of dollars than upgrading US Hwy 10 - the cost was in the BILLIONS to do so, as was the cost to upgrade 94. To run passenger trains on existing rails was comparatively cheap, costing millions instead of billions.

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar

Postby mattaudio » June 21st, 2013, 11:43 am

Yet there are still plans to dump money into Hwy 10 and I-94. #waste

mulad
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Re: Northstar

Postby mulad » June 21st, 2013, 12:14 pm

Back when the legislature was threatening to make massive cuts to metro-area transit funding, I wrote a blog post about converting Northstar into a "regional rail" service with an NLX-like service pattern to St. Cloud (trains running back and forth all day long rather than the 5 commute plus 1 reverse-commute pattern we have today). If (and it's a big if) the line can operate at a surplus with that service pattern, it could actually be viable for the Met Council/Metro Transit to go to a bank and get a standard loan to build out a minimal amount of improvement necessary to get to St. Cloud. In the end, the loan payments would probably be cheaper than the current annual subsidy.

But that was just a thought experiment on how to keep Northstar alive through a period where Metro Transit's funding would have been slashed.

http://hizeph400.blogspot.com/2011/06/n ... hstar.html

ECtransplant
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Re: Northstar

Postby ECtransplant » June 21st, 2013, 12:54 pm

David Greene wrote:And that is why we aren't going to see more commuter rail for a very long time.
You mean other than the SWLRT that's going to serve suburban commuters instead of connecting urban nodes?

MNdible
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Re: Northstar

Postby MNdible » June 21st, 2013, 1:28 pm

ECtransplant wrote:You mean other than the SWLRT that's going to serve suburban commuters instead of connecting urban nodes?
You just couldn't resist?

I bet there will be more reverse commuters on SWLRT than there are total users on Northstar. There are 30,000 jobs in the Golden Triangle, and growing.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Northstar

Postby RailBaronYarr » June 21st, 2013, 8:19 pm

MNdible, was it you who was pointing out that StC had a much higher chance of great regional rail ridership than going through Rochester on the way to Chicago (in a world of future HSR alternatives to Chicago)? I remember the projected yearly trips to StC in the report being quite high. And while I agree it will be largely commuters, college kids, a few tourists, possibly people going to MN/SCSU hockey games, extending the Northstar line and running different service patterns would be a lot cheaper than implementing the NLX, and a great way to test the waters on regional rail (IMHO, of course).

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Re: Northstar

Postby mulad » July 16th, 2013, 12:50 pm

Metro Transit has set a high-water mark for pre-sold Northstar rail tickets -- 530 for the Kenny Chesney concert on Friday. http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/215681001.html

ECtransplant
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Re: Northstar

Postby ECtransplant » July 20th, 2013, 7:42 pm


UptownSport
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Re: Northstar

Postby UptownSport » July 20th, 2013, 11:00 pm

:Thumbs Up:

Now, lobby to complete the darn thing!!!!!!

seanrichardryan
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Re: Northstar

Postby seanrichardryan » July 20th, 2013, 11:07 pm

So Brent can get from his cabin in St Cloud to his office in the IDS?
Q. What, what? A. In da butt.

UptownSport
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Re: Northstar

Postby UptownSport » July 20th, 2013, 11:11 pm

Touché

Sven bringing his goats to slaughterhouse.

ECtransplant
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Re: Northstar

Postby ECtransplant » July 23rd, 2013, 1:43 pm

I know it's not happening anytime soon, but assume at some point however far off in the future, Northstar does get completed to St. Cloud. What kind of headways/schedule would be likely? We could expect at least one or two mid-day trips, right?

612transplant
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Re: Northstar

Postby 612transplant » July 23rd, 2013, 7:43 pm

seanrichardryan wrote:So Brent can get from his cabin in St Cloud to his office in the IDS?
To be fair, is it really any less pointless to go all the way to St. Cloud than it is just going to Big Lake, now?


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