Northstar ridership misses 2010 goal by 21 percent

Categories: Commuting

northstar train wiki.jpg
Northstar has loyal riders, but not enough of them.
Metro Transit had a another good year, generally.

But when it comes to the Northstar commuter rail service, it looks like the bloom is off the rose. The line missed its 2010 ridership projections by 21 percent.

The numbers -- 710,400 riders in total -- aren't unexpected. Metro Transit forecast the missed goal back in December.

But it's another bump in the tracks for the rush-hour service that appears to have over-promised on projected use since it opened in November 2009. Plans for expansion to St. Cloud were recently put on hold when it became clear that ridership projections wouldn't meet the baseline necessary for federal funding.

Metro Transit blamed the flagging Northstar numbers on the recession, and unemployment statistics that suggest fewer people needed to commute downtown this past year. And it put the best face it could on the news by pointing out that Northstar is running within budget.

Other Metro Transit programs fared better for the year. The Hiawatha light rail posted a 6 percent boost in traffic. Express bus ridership tallied a 2.5 percent jump in users, and urban bus route use went up 0.7 percent.

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John Charles Wilson
John Charles Wilson

The irony is if the Saint Cloud sector of the line were completed, the ridership would probably increase to meet the baseline. Some people just don't want to mess with the bus transfer, and if the train went all the way to Saint Cloud, weekend day trippers from the Cities would probably use it too.


I agree! As a college student attending SCSU, I would love the option of the light rail. I don't want to hassle with the bus however.

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