Reclining seats, reading lights, plug-ins for laptop computers and other amenities. No wonder a survey of Northstar passengers yielded a 94 percent satisfaction rating. However, those glowing responses came not from Northstar Commuter Rail passengers, but from riders on an earlier Northstar transit line—the far more efficient and cost effective Northstar Commuter Coach express busses that paved the way for today’s trains.
When the highly touted Northstar commuter rail line debuted with 20 percent fewer riders than supporters promised in its first year of service, transit officials promptly lowered expectations for year two. Metro Transit reduced the projected number of passengers from 897,000 in 2010 to 750,000 in 2011, anticipating about 16 percent fewer riders than predicted for the inaugural year. Read more...
The Anoka County Board of Commissioners announced last week that their 2012 budget would include a reduction of property taxes of $8.14 million, marking a 7.43 percent decrease from the previous year and the first time in 30 years that spending for the next fiscal year will be less than the current budget projections.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN--This lame duck session will be the last for outgoing 18-term Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN). But old habits die hard, including requesting tens of millions of dollars in earmarks in the omnibus appropriations bill before Congress.
The Northstar Commuter Rail line between Big Lake and Minneapolis has run up an operating deficit of more than $1 million per month so far this year, according to figures obtained by the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota.
Northstar Commuter Rail has been running from Big Lake to Downtown Minneapolis since November 2009. While ridership has been on par with projections by Metro Transit, taxpayers are still subsidizing $80 for every $15 round-trip ticket, according to a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota analysis. Yet Northstar officials and policymakers continue to push an extension of the line to St. Cloud, which would have a major impact on taxpayers.
While the Northstar Commuter Rail line is meeting its start-up ridership goals so far, it may be an uphill climb to double monthly ridership by September as projected, even with passengers paying just a fraction of the heavily subsidized train’s true cost, according to a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) analysis of the first 100 days of operation.
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