After Ramsey, what's Northstar's next stop?

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 17, 2011 - 12:07 PM

In the midst of troubled economic times, the commuter rail line and its supporters celebrated its second anniversary by moving forward with a station in Ramsey. The move holds promise for the city and region.

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grandpabobNov. 16, 11 8:55 PM

I wonder how many of those 200 "new" passengers are already getting on the train in Anoka or Coon Rapids?

starreaderjaNov. 16, 11 9:08 PM

What is the average operating cost per ride now? What is the projected operating cost per ride at 4,000 riders per day needed to expand? How do the operating costs compare to traditional communing per rider? Whoi is getting a FREE RIDE? Lets see the economics of this big train wreck!

mn2niceNov. 16, 1110:04 PM

The economics are dependent upon people riding the train. If you live in Big Lake and work in Minneapolis, how much a year are you paying for gas, vehicle insurance, licensing, car payments, and maintenance. Riding the train is cost effective. This line started with a disadvantage, in that it should have gone to St. Cloud from the very start. But, as with so many other things we do, we tend to do them piecemeal, hoping ridership of the less-than-optimum route will spur and justify development of the route we really need. The Minneapolis-St. Cloud corridor is one of the fastest growing areas in the state. Drive on I-94 between Maple Grove and Rogers, and you know how congested it gets. Many people seem to feel that rail lines need to be self-sufficient and profitable. The problem is we have NEVER built any type of public transporation system in the U.S. (highways, buses, or rail) that has EVER been designed or operated to be "profitable." They are public services; services which are there for the benefit of all, not just a few. So, those who complain about the "economics" are setting a bar so high it cannot possibly be met. Maybe we should start charging those who drive to use the highways; every highway. Highways are enormously subsidized. In Minnesota, it costs over $10 million per mile to build a 4-lane highway you get to use for free. Try riding on a bus, plane or rail for free. You won't get very far.

rshacklefordNov. 16, 1110:16 PM

"The economics are dependent upon people riding the train. If you live in Big Lake and work in Minneapolis, how much a year are you paying for gas, vehicle insurance, licensing, car payments, and maintenance." My insurer dropped my rates because I'm taking a train 10 hours of my day (NOT), the state cut my licensing fee (NOT), my loan officer cut my payments (NOT), and the car doesn't age 10 hours each day (NOT). Nice try. And, who is getting a free ride through this whole deal? Those in the photograph who get to drive free county and city bought, serviced, and fueled cars!!

huggybear28Nov. 16, 1110:27 PM

@ mn2nice Highway users already pay user fees. It is called the gas tax, tab fees, and the motor vehicle sales tax. In the state of Minnesota, our state highway system is 100% funded by these three fees and federal allocations through the highway user trust fund, which is funded by the federal gas tax. The subsidies to transit include a .25% in a metro area sales tax, a 40% diversion of motor vehicle sales tax to transit, and a 2 cents per gallon diversion from the federal gas tax to transit. Lastly, as another kicker, highway improvements not only carry people, they carry goods and services from industry to smaller business to larger corporations. It is not just about moving people, it is about moving our whole economy.

merkinNov. 16, 1111:40 PM

Huggy, the fees you cited only cover about 50 - 60% of the cost of a road, even before you factor in external factors like the cost of the vehicle itself and highway patrols. Those same factors are internalized on a rail system.

Also keep in mind that those very same rails carry a lot of goods--not just people.

You need to take a broader view of our transportation system. Our economy can't survive on an all roads system anymore than it could with strictly rails or planes. A train is one more piece of the puzzle to help our commerce not just survive, but thrive and compete effectively in the global economy.

merkinNov. 16, 1111:41 PM

"My insurer dropped my rates because I'm taking a train 10 hours of my day (NOT)..."

Actually your insurer will reduce your rates if you use your car less. Drive fewer miles and you pay less.

regfootballNov. 17, 1112:30 AM

well, sure the way MN works, your fees and gas taxes might only cover 50-60% of the road, because the corrupt state of MN if I recall diverts those seemingly dedicated moneys into their general fund and then robs the cash drawer for other stuff. And we all know what happens after that.

rshacklefordNov. 17, 11 1:22 AM

"Drive fewer miles and you pay less." Via the honor system or having a telemetrics tracking device installed by the insurer?

ihave2beniceNov. 17, 11 1:23 AM

This year, through Oct. 31, Northstar customers took 602,902 rides. That was 2.2 percent less than the same period last year -- mostly because there were fewer rides to special events in 2011..... They'd probably get more riders to special events if they would add a few more cars to the train so 1/3 of the people don't have to stand up morst of the way to downtown and all the way back to their destination station.


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