Northern Lights Express

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tmart
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby tmart » March 6th, 2018, 4:26 pm

SurlyLHT wrote:
March 6th, 2018, 3:15 pm
This is exciting. Will the Northstar use the Foley Station?
Yes!

twincitizen
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby twincitizen » March 6th, 2018, 7:19 pm

I don't want to say you're wrong, but nothing in that document says Northstar would use the Foley Station. Now, anyone with two brain cells to rub together can agree that Northstar should stop at Foley Station (assuming it gets built as part of NLX and therefore "free" to Metro Transit), but I have personally been told otherwise. Metro Transit would tell you that cutting back existing express bus service levels would be a significant reduction in service to current riders. They'd be going from 25(!) morning trips that take customers directly to the CBD (via Marquette Ave) to 5 measly Northstar Trips that drop you at Target Field, which for most riders means a transfer to LRT or 10 minute walk to reach their ultimate destination.

If you're Metro Transit, how do you communicate that to current riders? Do you just quietly have Northstar stop there and see if people change their habits? Do you cut back current bus service on Day 1, eventually, or never?

I'm not saying definitively that Northstar trains won't stop at Foley Station. The optics of that would be weird, and honestly could only leave Metro Transit looking really stupid. But I am saying it may take some arm twisting at the Met Council/Metro Transit to get there. And the express bus service mostly won't/can't be eliminated (based on existing demand for frequent service)

tmart
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby tmart » March 6th, 2018, 7:51 pm

Wow, I misread the question and didn't realize it was about the existing westbound commuter rail. You're correct and I have no idea if it will serve an eventual Foley Station.

The generic Minnesota pride names are user-hostile and we need to start labeling our trains with their actual destinations when NLX starts running and we have more than one outbound destination. If we're really attached to the Northern Lights or Northstar brand, we should use it as the name for the statewide rail network and not for an individual line.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 6th, 2018, 8:36 pm

Doesn't it seem strange that NLX is planning an entirely new parking lot and station north of Foley Blvd and away from the existing Metro Transit ramp? Seems like it would make more sense to expand and reorient the ramp flow to allow for a platform accessed between 610 and Foley. It would also make sense to plan for more than just a single side platform here. When the third main is built west of the existing mains, then it would be highly inefficient for southbound Northstar trains to cross two mains to get to the east side platform.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » March 6th, 2018, 11:29 pm

mattaudio wrote:
March 6th, 2018, 8:36 pm
Doesn't it seem strange that NLX is planning an entirely new parking lot and station north of Foley Blvd and away from the existing Metro Transit ramp? Seems like it would make more sense to expand and reorient the ramp flow to allow for a platform accessed between 610 and Foley. It would also make sense to plan for more than just a single side platform here. When the third main is built west of the existing mains, then it would be highly inefficient for southbound Northstar trains to cross two mains to get to the east side platform.
Anyone know the usage of the current Foley park & ride? Is it reaching capacity, so that's why they want to add a surface lot? I would hope one of the funding sources could chip in a little more for an additional platform at Foley.

As for the express buses, I think the approach should be Northstar serves Foley but keep the existing level of bus service and see how riders react, which is similar to Route 16 after the Green Line began. Route 16 was slightly reduced after the Green Line opened once Metro Transit saw how riders were getting around on University. If more people are choosing Northstar over the bus then reduce bus service.

gopherfan
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby gopherfan » March 6th, 2018, 11:50 pm

I would say the lot is at least 80% full most days, have seen it at 95-99% full when the weather is bad. With the current speed restrictions in the Northtown Yard, the bus is actually faster to downtown than Northstar in generally traffic, and as twincitizen points out, actually goes to the CBD. SO I doubt a reduction of service and time will get commuters to switch willingly from the bus to the train.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » March 7th, 2018, 7:24 am

I know the majority of people are going to the CBD, but I'm sure a certain percentage are going elsewhere such as the U, which is an easy transfer on the Green Line at Target Field.

Foley Station would also be closer to Northtown Mall than Fridley Station.

SurlyLHT
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby SurlyLHT » March 7th, 2018, 9:14 am

DanPatchToget wrote:
March 6th, 2018, 11:29 pm
mattaudio wrote:
March 6th, 2018, 8:36 pm
Doesn't it seem strange that NLX is planning an entirely new parking lot and station north of Foley Blvd and away from the existing Metro Transit ramp? Seems like it would make more sense to expand and reorient the ramp flow to allow for a platform accessed between 610 and Foley. It would also make sense to plan for more than just a single side platform here. When the third main is built west of the existing mains, then it would be highly inefficient for southbound Northstar trains to cross two mains to get to the east side platform.
As for the express buses, I think the approach should be Northstar serves Foley but keep the existing level of bus service and see how riders react, which is similar to Route 16 after the Green Line began. Route 16 was slightly reduced after the Green Line opened once Metro Transit saw how riders were getting around on University. If more people are choosing Northstar over the bus then reduce bus service.

I agree, at least stop the train there. There can't be much added cost? If people don't ride it then skip it.

talindsay
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby talindsay » March 7th, 2018, 9:15 am

DanPatchToget wrote:
March 6th, 2018, 11:29 pm
Route 16 was slightly reduced after the Green Line opened once Metro Transit saw how riders were getting around on University. If more people are choosing Northstar over the bus then reduce bus service.
Route 16 wasn't "slightly reduced"; it was dramatically cut. The 50 was completely eliminated, of course, but the 16 went from every 7-10 minutes, all day, to every 20 during peak times and 30 at other times, if memory serves correctly. While I think your point about Northstar is correct, the University Avenue example is the wrong example, as the Green Line was explicitly built to replace exactly the bus service already provided on University Avenue. This Northstar service would be incidental to existing express services from Foley Blvd.

Comparisons of a rush-hour commuter service patterns to LRT service are always problematic, but I think if you were looking for one, the more apt one would be the 5's service to the airport being affected by the opening of the Hiawatha Line: the new service does have some overlap and some benefit for some users, but mostly it serves a different market.

I think it probably does make sense for the Northstar to stop there if the station gets built.

jebr
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby jebr » March 7th, 2018, 9:22 am

I don't think the distance to Northtown Mall is a selling point for the stop; it's still over two miles away from the station and there really isn't any major transit link.

I wouldn't remove the current express buses, but it would give a capacity boost and could help justify adding some midday and evening schedules to the Northstar when the current express buses don't run.

jebr
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby jebr » March 7th, 2018, 9:26 am

talindsay wrote:
March 7th, 2018, 9:15 am
DanPatchToget wrote:
March 6th, 2018, 11:29 pm
Route 16 was slightly reduced after the Green Line opened once Metro Transit saw how riders were getting around on University. If more people are choosing Northstar over the bus then reduce bus service.
Route 16 wasn't "slightly reduced"; it was dramatically cut. The 50 was completely eliminated, of course, but the 16 went from every 7-10 minutes, all day, to every 20 during peak times and 30 at other times, if memory serves correctly.
It also cut the service back from being downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul to starting a few blocks east of the Stadium Village station. I think initially it was supposed to run 24/7 and go to downtown Minneapolis during the overnight hours, but the Green Line became 24/7 instead and so it starts east of Stadium Village.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » March 7th, 2018, 10:39 am

talindsay wrote:
March 7th, 2018, 9:15 am
DanPatchToget wrote:
March 6th, 2018, 11:29 pm
Route 16 was slightly reduced after the Green Line opened once Metro Transit saw how riders were getting around on University. If more people are choosing Northstar over the bus then reduce bus service.
Route 16 wasn't "slightly reduced"; it was dramatically cut. The 50 was completely eliminated, of course, but the 16 went from every 7-10 minutes, all day, to every 20 during peak times and 30 at other times, if memory serves correctly. While I think your point about Northstar is correct, the University Avenue example is the wrong example, as the Green Line was explicitly built to replace exactly the bus service already provided on University Avenue. This Northstar service would be incidental to existing express services from Foley Blvd.

Comparisons of a rush-hour commuter service patterns to LRT service are always problematic, but I think if you were looking for one, the more apt one would be the 5's service to the airport being affected by the opening of the Hiawatha Line: the new service does have some overlap and some benefit for some users, but mostly it serves a different market.

I think it probably does make sense for the Northstar to stop there if the station gets built.
I should've been more specific. Route 16 was indeed dramatically cut the day the Green Line opened, but afterwards there were still minor cuts in frequency and route length (Route 16 used to serve Stadium Village Station, but then was cut back to a few blocks away where Route 6U terminates/originates). Also correct me if I'm wrong, but after the Green Line opened all Route 16 buses served the entire route between Stadium Village and Downtown St. Paul, correct? Now certain buses don't serve certain stops including Union Depot and west of Raymond.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 7th, 2018, 12:00 pm

Of course, if we had trains that through-routed Minneapolis via the CBD to St. Paul (on a double level tunnel shared with LRT under 5th or 6th Streets) then back across the river on the NP #9 bridge to St. Paul Union Depot... more people would be encouraged to take the train.

talindsay
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby talindsay » March 7th, 2018, 3:46 pm

mattaudio wrote:
March 7th, 2018, 12:00 pm
Of course, if we had trains that through-routed Minneapolis via the CBD to St. Paul (on a double level tunnel shared with LRT under 5th or 6th Streets) then back across the river on the NP #9 bridge to St. Paul Union Depot... more people would be encouraged to take the train.
Haha, that's some pre-1970s thinking. Even if we ever come up with the demand, money, and political will to bore an LRT tunnel under DT Minneapolis, there's no way it will be double-leveled to allow heavy rail as well. Just think of the bureaucracy and expense.

Bakken2016
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Bakken2016 » March 7th, 2018, 4:17 pm

http://www.startribune.com/passenger-ra ... 476163703/

So according to the Star Tribune, it would be operated by Amtrak.

grant1simons2
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby grant1simons2 » March 7th, 2018, 6:15 pm

Dammit

talindsay
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby talindsay » March 7th, 2018, 6:22 pm

Why would anybody expect differently? That's absolutely the norm for intercity services everywhere in the US - there are exceptions, but those are just that - exceptions. I've been on Amtrak-contracted services before, and the funders have the ability to make it more or less like normal Amtrak service. Also, most of Amtrak's issues stem from their horrible lack of funding, and these contract services are good, stable funding sources, so they do typically run well. By being operated by Amtrak, it gains visibility and interoperability with the existing national rail network, such as it is, which is good for Duluth if they want to get European tourists and others who come to America expecting to use rails.

Silophant
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Silophant » March 7th, 2018, 9:00 pm

Are there any intercity (not commuter-focused) train lines in the US that aren't operated by Amtrak? The Brightline, I guess, but that's totally privately funded. I assumed Amtrak operations was just a part of the whole government subsidized thing.

Tcmetro
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Tcmetro » March 7th, 2018, 10:02 pm

Most Amtrak operations are funded by state DOTs. The exceptions are the long distance trains. Amtrak (as the national rail provider) has protections like prioritization in exchange for taking over operations from the private companies.

There are some operations that are arguably Intercity that are operated without Amtrak. The Philadelphia-Atlantic City line (New Jersey Transit) and the upcoming CTrail service come to mind. Also the RailRunner in New Mexico.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » March 7th, 2018, 10:21 pm

So will the trains be owned by Amtrak, or state owned? Will it be the regular Amtrak paint scheme, or some MnDOT inspired livery?

Last year I talked to Francis Loetterle about locomotives. This may still be up in the air, but he said older locomotives may be used and perhaps also cabbage cars (locomotives that have been gutted and turned into cabcars and baggage holders) in a push-pull configuration. Assuming this is the case eventually Siemens Charger locomotives would be brought in. I forget if we talked about rolling stock too. Superliners, Bombardier bi-levels, or something else? And will it be all coach class, or will there be a dining car and/or business class seats? I'm doubting it since the trip is pretty short.


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