Northstar's flaws

  • Article by: ANNE NOLAN
  • Updated: June 23, 2012 - 5:25 PM

Schedule fails St. Cloud commuters.

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A Northstar Commuter Rail Train pulled into the Big Lake station

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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It was great to see the Star Tribune Editorial Board call for better scheduling to promote increased commuter-rail ridership ("Recommit to keep Northstar on track," June 22). But the editorial left out the most important scheduling problem that is holding down ridership: The Northstar line ends its morning schedule too early to be transit-accessible in St. Cloud.

If you board your neighborhood's first MetroBus run of the morning and ride it to the downtown St. Cloud transit center, you will arrive to find that the last shuttle bus to the Northstar link left half an hour ago, to meet up with the last departure of the morning from Big Lake. You can drive or walk or bike to St. Cloud's Northstar link, but you can't get there on public transit.

It makes no sense to ask St. Cloud MetroBus to add an earlier run to each bus route in its entire system. The obvious solution is to simply add one more Northstar run a half-hour later in the morning.

The failure to do this is costing substantial ridership from St. Cloud, a metropolitan statistical area with a population of about 190,000 people. This is a major reason that Northstar has had such trouble living up to original ridership projections.

I understand the explanation of the schedule glitch is a little complicated. But we need to say it and keep saying it: Northstar isn't transit-accessible in St. Cloud because the train and bus schedules don't mesh.

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Anne Nolan of St. Cloud, Minn., is a DFL candidate for Minnesota House District 14A.

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