ST. PAUL – Aug. 26, 2009 – The Metropolitan Council has established fares for the 40-mile Northstar Line, the region’s first commuter rail line, set to begin operation late this year. The fares are based on distance between each station and downtown Minneapolis.
The weekday fares, one way, between downtown Minneapolis and the five suburban stations are:
- Big Lake – $7.00 (introductory fare); $8.00 (at or within 12 months)
- Elk River – $5.50 (introductory fare); $6.00 (at or within 12 months)
- Anoka – $4.00
- Coon Rapids –$4.00
- Fridley – $3.25
For customers not traveling downtown, the one-way fare between stations is $3.25.
“We are very excited about the coming launch of this service,” said Council Chair Peter Bell. “We’re testing the vehicles. We think the public will be pleased with the quality of the rail cars, as well as the speed and reliability of the service. And, now we have a fare structure in place that takes into account the trip distance and the value of this premium service, while also providing a cost-effective trip for riders in the Highway 10 corridor.”
Northstar is the region’s first commuter-rail line and is expected to carry 3,400 riders each weekday during its first year of operation. As the service and market matures, ridership is expected to grow to 4,100 weekday rides.
The Northstar commuter rail line will provide five morning trips to Minneapolis and five afternoon trips from Minneapolis each weekday peak period, as well as one reverse commute trip from Minneapolis in the morning and to Minneapolis in the afternoon. Three round trips are planned for Saturdays, Sundays and some holidays. The service will operate on existing track along Highways 10 and 47 from Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis.
Customers who use Go-To smartcards will get a 10 percent bonus with their purchases. (For example, $11 of fare value for $10.) Children five and under ride for free when accompanied by a paying customer. In addition, Metro Transit will offer discounted fares that apply to weekends for:
- Seniors 65 and older
- Youth between the ages of 6 and 12
- Medicare Card holders
Weekend and holiday one-way adult fares will be discounted approximately 25 percent from weekday fares (Table 1).
Weekend and holiday fares for seniors, youth and Medicare Card holders will be discounted approximately 75 percent from weekday fares (Table 2).
People with disabilities can travel at a reduced rate at all times with proper identification. Fares will be discounted approximately 75 percent from the weekday fares seven days a week, in compliance with Federal Reduced Fare Guidelines (Table 3).
Over the next several months, staff will develop a family or group discount program. A plan to implement a group discount program should be ready about the time the Minnesota Twins open their first season at the Target Field ballpark in April 2010. The goal is to make fares more affordable to customers traveling as a family or group.
In addition, riders on the two longer commutes can expect to see a modest increase in fares at or within the first 12 months of operation.
The Council initially proposed fares for the Northstar commuter line in September 2008. However, gasoline prices at the time prompted the Council to direct Metro Transit to re-evaluate fares prior to the public comment period and public hearings in April 2009. The Council ultimately chose to offer an introductory fare on the two longest commutes to help capture initial ridership, then increase the two fares after allowing the service to mature for about a year.
Metro Transit will manage Northstar operations and maintain the locomotives, passenger cars and stations. Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway will provide train crews and dispatch service because Northstar will use the railway’s track.
The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning organization for the seven-county Twin Cities area. It runs the regional bus and light rail system, collects and treats wastewater, manages regional water resources, plans regional parks and administers funds that provide housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The Council is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor.