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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 20th, 2014, 11:37 am
by mattaudio
And here's an Anoka County webpage about the project:
http://www.highway10andarmstrong.com/
Layout: http://www.highway10andarmstrong.com/pd ... Layout.pdf
Presentation to City of Ramsey: http://www.highway10andarmstrong.com/pd ... 140211.pdf
Absolutely nothing in it for transit. $10.2 million for a freeway interchange that could have otherwise been roughly half the cost of upgrading a bus line like the 21 to aBRT levels of service.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 20th, 2014, 11:42 am
by phop
http://www.mnrides.org/sites/default/fi ... packet.pdf

This shows $49,010,288 in funding sources for the "Northstar: Safety Enhancements at Armstrong Boulevard" project. They apparently also got a $10 million TIGER grant for it.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 20th, 2014, 11:44 am
by twincitizen
In all fairness, the $10.2MM in CTIB money was collected from Anoka County residents, so it's not like they're robbing other counties to do this. Obviously I agree that it should not be spent on an interchange that has nothing to do with Northstar operations.

With Anoka County being pretty much hostile to transit expansion, you've gotta wonder what they will spend their future CTIB proceeds on that aren't committed to Northstar operations. Building/upgrading park & rides and assisting in the development of station areas is one thing, this is something else entirely.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 20th, 2014, 11:55 am
by mattaudio
You'd think they'd want to get Foley Blvd connected to Northstar...

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 20th, 2014, 12:07 pm
by mulad
I wish we had a nice one-stop shop for transportation project information, rather than digging for random websites. Surprising that this one is run by Anoka County rather than MnDOT.

I agree this shouldn't be coming from CTIB. But in general, I lean in favor of railroad grade-separation projects when they can improve safety. I wonder a bit if they should have just closed this intersection in favor of using another one down the highway. This spot is bad because there's only enough queueing space between the tracks and the highway for 1 or 2 cars, or 0 or 1 large vehicles like buses or trucks.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 21st, 2014, 12:37 pm
by twincitizen
Northstar stuff begins on page 85 of this CTIB presentation: http://www.mnrides.org/sites/default/fi ... _final.pdf

• Total 2015 Operating Cost:
$17,609,478
• Total 2015 Operating Revenue:
$2,598,062
– Passenger Fares: $2,498,062 (14.2% of total)
– Other: $100,000
• Total 2015 Net Operating Cost:
$15,011,416
• 2015 Net Operating Funding:
$15,011,416
– CTIB: $6,297,289 (41.95%)
– Sherburne County: $1,208,419 (8.05%)
– MnDOT: $1,208,419 (8.05%)
– Met Council: $6,297,289 (41.95%)

This just looks really, really grim. Even if you add the Foley Station, and maybe double the ridership within, say, a decade, getting the fare collection up to $5MM/30%, we're still spending a fortune on not a lot of rides.

Regarding the earlier conversation where we were straying into CTIB politics, you can see above that the CTIB portion of the budget is $6.3MM. Anyone have a figure for how much CTIB money Anoka County generates per year?

The Met Council portion presumably comes from MVST money and other general fund appropriations to Metro Transit's operations budget.

Also, as a sidebar, why are we still running this train on weekends? That seems like a complete waste of money. Why not just stop doing that now? That's a lot of labor and fuel being wasted on nothing.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 21st, 2014, 12:41 pm
by mattaudio
Any chance for a Nordeast station, maybe behind Superior Plating? Or next to Broadway/Central for good transit connectivity in the heart of northeast?

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 22nd, 2014, 7:35 am
by mulad
Something I want to figure out is why the Utah Transit Agency's FrontRunner service has been able to operate their commuter trains at about 1/3 the cost per revenue mile and per revenue hour versus Northstar (as of 2012 -- them vs. us). They have more mileage in their system (about 2.25x as much), and maybe they don't have to fight against as much freight traffic as we do. I'm not certain of the history of their system's schedule, but it currently runs all day with half-hourly service Monday through Friday and hourly service on Saturday (no Sunday service -- probably partly because it's Utah). There have been some big mileage expansions in the last two years, but unfortunately I don't know how that has affected operating costs. Their ridership has gone up from roughly 6,000 daily in 2012 to 15,000 daily in 2014.

Anyway, I think it's worth asking what it would take to get all-day service on the existing Northstar route -- probably more effective at improving ridership and operating cost than the St. Cloud extension, but at the same time, it would probably make it easier to imagine one out of every 2 or 3 trains continuing north.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 22nd, 2014, 9:08 am
by EOst
mattaudio wrote:Any chance for a Nordeast station, maybe behind Superior Plating? Or next to Broadway/Central for good transit connectivity in the heart of northeast?
Who would the Nordeast station be for? I can't imagine why anyone would want to take it downtown (it'd barely be any faster than the local bus, and it'd drop you off at a less useful location), and who's reverse commuting from there to up north?

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 24th, 2014, 7:14 am
by Tom H.
EOst wrote:
mattaudio wrote:Any chance for a Nordeast station, maybe behind Superior Plating? Or next to Broadway/Central for good transit connectivity in the heart of northeast?
Who would the Nordeast station be for? I can't imagine why anyone would want to take it downtown (it'd barely be any faster than the local bus, and it'd drop you off at a less useful location), and who's reverse commuting from there to up north?
Wouldn't it be for people commuting from the NW burbs to Nordeast?

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 24th, 2014, 10:11 am
by twincitizen
^I'd assume that would be the primary target rider, but let's be honest, any employment destination that would be walkable from a Northeast station would also have ample cheap or free parking. For destinations along upper Central Ave, there is also a P&R at Northtown Mall with very frequent service on the 10, and rush hour service on the 59 for those who are averse to driving all the way into the city. You can catch the 10 (University branch) a short walk from the Fridley Station too, if coming from Northstar.

Reverse commuting on Northstar isn't really a thing. The one outbound trip that we do have exists only to get the trainset back to Big Lake for the final inbound trip.

A station at Central & Broadway is one of those things that looks really good on a mental map (or fantasy map), but in reality wouldn't serve a whole lot of people given the current extremely limited Northstar operation. Perhaps a few decades from now, if we were to rebuild that whole Central/Broadway intersection, it would make sense to save room for a train platform down below.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: November 24th, 2014, 11:06 pm
by talindsay
It would probably make for a shorter commute to the UMN campus as well: the Northstar takes a bit of time to go out of the way for UMN commuters, who then have to transfer either way; a short express bus ride down from a hypothetical Northeast station would be a good bit faster than continuing in to downtown and transferring to the Green Line.

It would also make it possible for Northstar to serve short-distance travel between Northeast and the North Loop which, although currently not a likely trip generator, could become valuable with time. And of course that potential movement would come along for no additional operational cost if this station existed.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: December 18th, 2014, 8:07 am
by nate

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: December 18th, 2014, 8:18 am
by bubzki2
I can see why they had problems: "The delays were blamed on weather weather..."

Weather^2 is generally quite intense, indeed.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: December 20th, 2014, 6:40 pm
by kellonathan
mulad wrote:Something I want to figure out is why the Utah Transit Agency's FrontRunner service has been able to operate their commuter trains at about 1/3 the cost per revenue mile and per revenue hour versus Northstar (as of 2012 -- them vs. us).
For your information...

Population (2012)
Big Lake, MN 10,247
(St. Cloud, MN in 2010 65,842)
Ogden, UT : Northern terminus of FrontRunner 83,793
Provo, UT : Southern terminus of FrontRunner 115,919

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: February 13th, 2015, 9:57 pm
by mulad
The city of Anoka bought up a parcel near their station at a bargain price, hoping to eventually have it redeveloped as offices.

http://abcnewspapers.com/2015/02/12/ano ... l-station/

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: March 18th, 2015, 8:46 am
by grant1simons2
Didn't know exactly where to put this, but it fits here best because it's Northstar TOD

Coon Rapids is reviewing a revised Foley Boulevard small area plan at the PC meeting tomorrow. Finance and Commerce had a story on it which is locked: http://finance-commerce.com/2015/03/coo ... -catalyst/

But you can just look at the small area plan right here: http://156.142.25.25/docs/2015/PLANReg/ ... 030615.pdf

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: March 18th, 2015, 9:50 am
by VacantLuxuries
So do they want another Coon Rapids station?

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: March 18th, 2015, 10:02 am
by twincitizen
Foley Station was always planned along Northstar. It got cut for funding reasons and other reasons, like the current express buses being faster, more frequent, etc. and the current parking ramp being full. Adding Northstar service here would be pretty pointless unless you cut the express bus service, which would be very unpopular among riders. The report, for some reason, assumes that Northstar fares would be higher than the $3 express fare. That's an unfair assumption for the report to make, since Fridley Station charges exactly that. No reason to assume that the Northstar fare would be higher here, if implemented, especially given the political difficulty of giving every single transit user lower frequencies and less direct service to the office core (express buses go to Marq2).

If Foley Station gets built, it will be done because of NLX (to Duluth), not because Northstar wants/needs it. However, the presence of the train station at Foley will force the necessary conversation between Metro Transit and current express bus riders, that yes, express bus service to Minneapolis will be reduced and many riders will (be forced to) shift to Northstar. On the plus side, Northstar ridership would shoot way up and look a whole hell of a lot better in terms of subsidy per rider. On the downside, a percentage of current express bus riders would probably start driving to work instead of taking the slower & more cumbersome Northstar+LRT trip. Overall transit ridership at Foley might actually drop in the short term. Then again, Metro Transit would probably supplement the infrequent 30-minute headways of Northstar with express buses anyways.

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Posted: March 18th, 2015, 10:12 am
by mattaudio
Didn't Northstar already lower the fares on these inner stations to make them more competitive with express buses?

Foley Blvd, connected to the RR, makes sense as more of a suburban station for regional services. Future NLX to Duluth, Northstar extension to St. Cloud, maybe even a terminus for additional MSP-Chi frequencies.

Since the parking ramp is maxed out and this is the most popular P&R in the metro, maybe it's a good place to start testing pay parking of a couple bucks a day (and change 850/852 to Ltd Stop to eliminate the express price).