Fares Cut for Northstar Commuter Train
The Met Council took a unique approach to try to improve ridership on the Northstar commuter rail line.
For three years, the number of riders has not lived up to expectations and has declined. So, the Met Council voted to lower fares to try and attract more people on the train that runs all the way from the Twin Cities up to Big Lake.
The lower fares, starting Aug. 1, will be cut from $7 to $6 for weekday rush hour patrons. The weekend rates stay the same at $5.25. The Northstar cost taxpayers #317 million to build and open in late 2009. But ridership is decreasing and the cost to taxpayers is more than $18 per rider. Hiawatha Light Rail only costs taxpayers $1.46 to subsidize per rider.
The Met Council says this is a nine-month experiment that ends April 30, 2013, and they will reassess it at that time. As far as getting rid of Northstar entirely, they say, it is unlikely because they would have to pay the Federal Government more than $150 million to do so.
For only the second time in 30 years, ridership on all Metro Transit topped 80 million last year. There were nearly 81 million rides, which is up 3.5 percent from the year before. The majority were bus rides at almost 70 million, and the rest were light rail rides at about 10.5 million.
So far this year, bus and light rail ridership is up compared to the same time last year.