'Train Gang' riders illustrates how Northstar hits taxpayers.
Northstar rider Jill Macdonald, in red, offers Christmas cookies to fellow rider Kendra Randel on the train inbound to Minneapolis. Macdonald had made the cookies and brought them along, part of the holiday festivities of the group of friends who ride the train regularly and who became acquainted on the train.
The Star Tribune's Variety section recently had an interesting article about the "Train Gang" -- a group that regularly commutes on the Northstar rail ("Riding the 6:51 out of Big Lake," Dec. 22).
One person even drives from St. Cloud to catch the rail, even though there's Northstar Link bus service from St. Cloud. I've seen these buses arrive and depart empty.
Before taxpayers have to pay even higher subsidies for Northstar rail to expand to Rice, Minn., ridership on the Link buses should have to increase. Taxpayers seem to have little, or no, say in the Metropolitan Council's plans for aggressive rail expansion.
But we don't need the ill-planned expansion with commuter rail coming in from Eau Claire, Wis.; Lake City, Minn.; Hinckley, Minn., and wherever else transit leaders desire. Fares were recently adjusted in an attempt to increase ridership. Northstar has been and will continue to be a drain on taxpayers.
WAYNE DOKKEN, Robbinsdale
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