Northstar Commuter Rail

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
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FISHMANPET
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Re: Northstar

Postby FISHMANPET » September 25th, 2013, 10:21 am

That's kind of in a weird place between commuter rail and regional rail. It's really only serving commuters into Downtown Seattle, but it's got pretty large cities on each end, making it more like regional rail. But I'd call it more commuter since that's the trip it primarily serve, and it seems to do pretty well, with 8k-9k passengers per day.

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Re: Northstar

Postby MNdible » September 25th, 2013, 11:41 am

In my (admittedly limited) experience, it's not uncommon to see hourly mid-day and evening service on the east coast commuter lines (Boston, Philadelphia, etc.).

I just don't think there's the ridership to justify running a big, heavy train for the limited numbers that would be using Northstar off-hours. I'm honestly not sure -- do they run a bus along the route to supplement?

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Northstar

Postby FISHMANPET » September 25th, 2013, 12:48 pm

It would probably be a lot more economical to run off-peak service if they could do it with a DMU rather than a full loco+carriages.

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Re: Northstar

Postby orangevening » September 25th, 2013, 5:05 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:That's kind of in a weird place between commuter rail and regional rail. It's really only serving commuters into Downtown Seattle, but it's got pretty large cities on each end, making it more like regional rail. But I'd call it more commuter since that's the trip it primarily serve, and it seems to do pretty well, with 8k-9k passengers per day.
As someone who lived in Seattle for 4+ years I would consider Sounder definitely a commuter rail. I never played too much attention to it due this reason. Like FISHMANPET said it does have large populations on each end (with few, but well planned stations on the way with decent population). Everett on the north end gets a lot of use because of the Boeing plant up there and Tacoma on the south end, is well Tacoma- A cheaper, lower-income, less cultural version of Seattle. I would think people don't want to pay more to live in Seattle (along with other reasons) and 1-5 can be a nightmare during rush hour so maybe Sounder gets riders from that.

Portland and Vancouver, BC have their own versions of commuter rail (ironically called West Coast Express in both cities) but they are not as successful as Sounder

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Re: Northstar

Postby spearson » September 26th, 2013, 3:07 pm

Tcmetro wrote:With the increasing availability of 4G LTE (and faster connections being developed now), I honestly think investing in WiFi on public transit is a waste of money.
I use ATT and there is an especially large dead zone between Coon Rapids and Fridley, and sometimes spotty service elsewhere. That said, it's minor inconvenience for a 5 minute window, hardly an issue. As for WiFi, I did have an opportunity to use it this morning, and well, I was disappointed. Signal was great, but they have sites blocked. I couldn't even view the Kare11 webpage, or images through imgur.com (reddit worked, but all the imgur links failed). I disconnected soon after.
MNdible wrote:Disagree.
What's "holding the line back" is that this area hasn't sprawled quite as quickly as predicted, and as noted previously, it turns out that there aren't that many people living in the NW suburbs who are actually commuting into downtown Minneapolis.
I live a 10 minute walk from downtown Anoka and I often take the train as I work downtown Minneapolis. I don't think the problem is entirely the number of people who commute downtown from the NW suburbs, because based on the amount of traffic during rush hour, there are a lot of commuters heading towards downtown. It's just that traffic isn't horrid enough to deter people. You don't really save a lot of time taking the train via Anoka and the morning rush hour is fairly painless. The evening rush hour on the other hand is worse.

In my 7 years of commuting I've found that it is the drive home that is by far the worst. From Anoka to Minneapolis in the morning; if I take Hwy 10, there are slow downs typically around Hanson Blvd. If I take Hwy 169, there are slow downs typically around Hwy 610. From there, Hwy 252 usually sucks due to the lights, especially the light at 85th. But even with all this, and on a bad day, it is a 30-40 minute morning commute, and on a good day, about 25 minutes. For reference, on non-rush hour trips, it takes about 22 minutes (it's also about 23 miles from 2nd St N to my driveway). On the commute home? 45 minutes if not more, 90% of the time.

We just get more lane capacity the further from Anoka towards Minneapolis we get. Unfortunately on the way back, it's bottleneck after bottleneck. Congestion will need to get worse (especially in the morning) along Hwy 10 for stations to see higher ridership. It would also be nice to see a extra trip or two, or the trip times staggered differently.

*Edit for clarity.

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Re: Northstar

Postby Mdcastle » September 27th, 2013, 8:47 pm

Maybe being able to use WiFI will entice more riders that could use Northstar to do so. I don't have a cell phone, and won't until when and if data costs drop to a somewhat sane level- I could understand it costing twice or 10X what my home internet costs, but a hundred times??? So not worth it to me. But it would be nice to use my laptop if I ever commuted by train. If they had to they could even charge for it, or use Southwest's model of charging for WIfi and limiting bandwidth busting sites, but providing some free content, including free TV

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Re: Northstar

Postby FISHMANPET » September 27th, 2013, 9:56 pm

What do you pay for home internet/what do you think cell phone data costs? I pay $50 a month for unlimited talk/text/2GB data a month, which is plenty for my phone.

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Re: Northstar

Postby Mdcastle » September 28th, 2013, 8:14 am

$50 dollars for 2 GB sounds about right. At home I pay $50 for Comcast, which for a long time had a 250 GB cap in certain areas (I don't know if it did here).

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Re: Northstar

Postby mulad » October 12th, 2013, 6:37 am

Anoka County is looking at selling about 15 acres of land they own around the Coon Rapids station:

http://abcnewspapers.com/2013/10/10/cou ... l-station/

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Re: Northstar

Postby MNdible » October 12th, 2013, 11:29 am

Bummer that there's no connection -- not even a walking path -- from the south side of the tracks.

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Re: Northstar

Postby mulad » October 18th, 2013, 9:44 pm

Yeah, that's been floating around in my head as an idea for a blog post at some point. We'll see if I ever get to it.

Looking through the earlier posts in this thread, this one popped up as a comment I had wanted to respond to, but forgot about:
MNdible wrote:In my (admittedly limited) experience, it's not uncommon to see hourly mid-day and evening service on the east coast commuter lines (Boston, Philadelphia, etc.).

I just don't think there's the ridership to justify running a big, heavy train for the limited numbers that would be using Northstar off-hours. I'm honestly not sure -- do they run a bus along the route to supplement?
Route 852 appears to be the primary supplemental route along the Northstar corridor, but there's a mix of different services depending on where you are.

The Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids, and Fridley stations all have some amount of bus service from Metro Transit, though the Ramsey service is very limited -- only one midday outbound dropoff/inbound pickup by the 852 around 1pm, plus one late outbound trip. The Northstar Link bus (887) which normally only runs between Big Lake and St. Cloud has Fabulous Friday service making all stops on the way to Minneapolis, but the northbound return stops are only on-demand.

The 852 seems to have hourly service through downtown Anoka, which is about 1 mile (20 minute walk) from the Northstar station. The 805 (southern terminus at Northtown Mall) has hourly service past the Anoka station and also goes close to (but apparently not directly to) the Coon Rapids station. The 850 also reaches Coon Rapids station and downtown Anoka, but is mostly only peak-period service. The 860 is also peak-period, peak-direction service between Coon Rapids station and downtown St. Paul.

The 10 runs on University Avenue 4-5 blocks away from the Fridley station, and the 852 gets closer along East River Road about once an hour. The 824 and 854 also run along University, but are peak-only.

The 10 has Saturday and Sunday service, while the 852 and 805 also operate on Saturday (though the 852 doesn't make any trips to Ramsey).

I've taken the 852 and the 860 once each. The 852 was maddening to ride since it seemed to loop around a lot and switched between running express/limited stop and making local stops at least twice on the way to Minneapolis from Anoka. The 860 was interesting just to see how bus-only-shoulders work (I think I mentioned before that the trip included a little off-roading, which was not as jerky as I would have expected -- the express coaches are able to absorb bumps a lot better than city buses).

Overall, the bus service reinforces my sense that they could have built the line to have all-day service to Anoka, plus occasional trips beyond to the exurbs and St. Cloud.

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Re: Northstar

Postby RailBaronYarr » October 19th, 2013, 8:29 am

With all that in mind, what would an operations budget look like if most to all of the bus routes were replaced by Northstar to between Anoka and St Cloud service on an hourly basis? Obviously there's capital to get it extended, but is that perhaps a bargaining chip to extend Northstar?

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Re: Northstar

Postby John21 » October 19th, 2013, 10:50 am


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Re: Northstar

Postby mulad » November 16th, 2013, 9:32 am

Northstar is 4 years old today. https://www.metrotransit.org/plenty-to- ... nniversary

In Anoka, the grade crossings at 4th Street (just west of the station) and Ferry Street (just on the other side of the Rum River) are now 24-hour quiet zones. They had been overnight (10 pm to 7 am) quiet zones for a while. There's still a private crossing on the Federal Premium Ammunition property just northwest of Main Street where trains still blow their horns (I'd been wondering what that site was!)

Trains will still blow the horn twice as they depart the Anoka station.

http://abcnewspapers.com/2013/11/14/ful ... ved-anoka/

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Re: Northstar

Postby kellonathan » November 24th, 2013, 11:06 pm

Seems like the mayor of St. Cloud has some opinions on the location of potential St. Cloud Northstar station.
Mayor Dave Kleis is interested in studying the Amtrak station off East St. Germain Street, largely because he sees the station as a way to attract new development to industrial (and aging) St. Cloud.
Full article:
http://www.sctimes.com/article/20131124 ... il-station
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Re: Northstar

Postby UptownSport » December 1st, 2013, 12:16 pm

The article speaks of Northstar being extended as imminent- IIRC the video said 'years away'.
I only find that any extension is on 'Indefinite hold', no sight of an extension date.

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Re: Northstar

Postby Viktor Vaughn » December 16th, 2013, 3:14 pm

When it comes to extending Northstar to St Cloud, I guess we shouldn't expect support from any of those running to replace Bachmann in the 6th District.

http://www.startribune.com/politics/sta ... 61041.html
...The agreeable tone continued throughout the debate.

“My priorities are roads and bridges,” said Pederson, in response to a question about the Northstar commuter rail corridor. “We’re going to have more trains until people in strong districts like CD6 get out and help people in other districts defeat Democrats who want those trains.”

“We need to be focusing our limited resources on roads and bridges,” said Sivarajah, who called the rail plans a “boondoggle.”

“I’ve never supported rail,” Emmer agreed.

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Re: Northstar

Postby twincitizen » December 16th, 2013, 10:49 pm

The comments on this are going to be a shit show: http://www.startribune.com/local/north/236136121.html

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Re: Northstar

Postby RailBaronYarr » December 17th, 2013, 9:17 am

If you include amortized capital costs over 30 years (to make a fair comparison to roads since DOT budgets include capital outlay, debt repayment, and ops), the line as built costs ~$32.6m per year, meaning total cost recovery of 7.9%. That is pretty bad, but without reading the comments I'm assuming the discussion misses most of the underlying issues...

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Re: Northstar

Postby bubzki2 » December 17th, 2013, 9:18 am

The comments are enough to make your eyes water.


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