Northstar Commuter Rail

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mulad
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » March 30th, 2021, 8:50 am

I really have to say that whatever people think of Northstar, that should translate almost exactly to the way we think about commuter buses in the region, which have also seen a massive hit to ridership. Lots of those routes also have this bonkers service pattern of having nearly all trips going into downtown in the morning, laying over during the midday somewhere in the core cities, and returning out to the suburbs in the evening.

It's especially frustrating since I see the Northstar as having a generally better operation where it makes multiple stops through suburbs -- commuter buses tend to operate kind of like local service in a specific suburb, then run without any stops until they get close to or into downtown. I really wish highway-running buses had a few more intermediate stops here and there (especially at either end of some of the big river bridges we have in the region)

tmart
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby tmart » March 30th, 2021, 9:06 am

I really have to say that whatever people think of Northstar, that should translate almost exactly to the way we think about commuter buses in the region, which have also seen a massive hit to ridership.
Yes, and I suspect there's a strong overlap at the Capitol between those who want to axe Northstar and those who think nobody is ever going to work downtown again because of remote work.

DanPatchToget
Foshay Tower
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » March 30th, 2021, 9:12 am

Considering the amount of outrage over the subsidy per passenger of Northstar they should have a heart attack looking at the subsidy per rider of our low performing express bus routes.

Latest I've been able to find is 2016 data but here's express routes with a higher subsidy per rider than Northstar:
MVTA Route 492- $56.64 per rider
MVTA Route 494/495- $43.38 per rider
MVTA Route 491- $33.68 per rider
Plymouth Route 743- $31.64 per rider
Northstar- $20.12 per rider

Back when SW Transit tried a couple short-lived local routes in Eden Prairie (before SW Prime) I was told by a SW Transit employee who works in route planning that the subsidy per rider was around $100.

tmart
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby tmart » March 30th, 2021, 9:35 am

Considering the amount of outrage over the subsidy per passenger of Northstar they should have a heart attack looking at the subsidy per rider of our low performing express bus routes.

Latest I've been able to find is 2016 data but here's express routes with a higher subsidy per rider than Northstar:
MVTA Route 492- $56.64 per rider
MVTA Route 494/495- $43.38 per rider
MVTA Route 491- $33.68 per rider
Plymouth Route 743- $31.64 per rider
Northstar- $20.12 per rider

Back when SW Transit tried a couple short-lived local routes in Eden Prairie (before SW Prime) I was told by a SW Transit employee who works in route planning that the subsidy per rider was around $100.
When you say per rider is that per boarding? Like if someone takes the 492 every day for a year then MVTA is spending like $10,000 on that rider?

DanPatchToget
Foshay Tower
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » March 30th, 2021, 9:41 am

I believe so but I'm not 100% certain. The spreadsheet I pulled it from just says "per rider".

Trademark
Nicollet Mall
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Trademark » March 30th, 2021, 9:49 am

The difference between commuter buses and commuter rail is simple. Commuter rail is operated for ridership and it is failing. Commuter buses are operated for coverage so ridership is not as important.

mulad
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » March 30th, 2021, 9:54 am

Keep in mind that Northstar's high subsidy per rider is partly because people are traveling such long distances. Looks like the average ride was almost 25 miles in 2019, versus only about 4 miles for trips on Metro Transit's overall bus and light rail network (that's per individual hop, not counting cases where people transfer between routes, but Northstar riders are still probably going around twice as far as anyone else in the system)

Tcmetro
Wells Fargo Center
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Tcmetro » March 30th, 2021, 11:04 am

Those express routes are all reverse commute lines and the buses would likely be running empty to do a second commute trip anyways.

I think the Northstar Extension to St Cloud would be very well used especially with students at SCSU. Even if commuter ridership is permanently gone, there's a good opportunity to convert it into an intercity line.

Trademark
Nicollet Mall
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Trademark » March 30th, 2021, 11:12 am

Those express routes are all reverse commute lines and the buses would likely be running empty to do a second commute trip anyways.

I think the Northstar Extension to St Cloud would be very well used especially with students at SCSU. Even if commuter ridership is permanently gone, there's a good opportunity to convert it into an intercity line.
Exactly if we can convert northstar into 2-3 round-trips to fargo I would take that over the status quo. Keep all the same stops. Timed connections with NLX would be clutch too.

DanPatchToget
Foshay Tower
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » March 30th, 2021, 11:14 am

Those express routes are all reverse commute lines and the buses would likely be running empty to do a second commute trip anyways.

I think the Northstar Extension to St Cloud would be very well used especially with students at SCSU. Even if commuter ridership is permanently gone, there's a good opportunity to convert it into an intercity line.
Route 494/495 was/is a suburb-to-suburb express route. And considering routes like the 467, which had a low subsidy per rider in the 2016 data, now have severely reduced service or are suspended altogether because of COVID, makes me interested in seeing what the subsidy data was in 2020 and what it will be this year.


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