"I don't want to be downtown all day. Isn't there midday service?" That's a common refrain, especially with people who aren't commuters but want to use the train during the week.
At last weekend's Anoka County Senior Expo, senior citizens were glad to learn a new midday bus service gives them some flexibility, on Fridays.
Seniors stood at the Northstar booth and wondered out loud about the shopping trips to the Mall of America, the culinary adventures, the visits with old friends, the medical appointments handled with more ease, and the list went on. Each imaginary excursion had bookends that were made of a train on one end and a commuter bus on the other.
The Northstar Link Commuter Bus offers a Fabulous Friday midday service. One round trip starts in St. Cloud at 10:15 a.m. It stops at St. Cloud State University, the Northstar Link park and ride, Becker,and then the Northstar stations at Big Lake, Elk River, Anoka, and Coon Rapids. It arrives downtown Minneapolis at 12:45 p.m.
People who ride the train south on an early Friday morning can call it a day at lunch time and catch the Northstar Link Commuter Bus on its return trip north in the middle of the day. The bus pulls out of downtown Minneapolis at 1 p.m. and stops at the same locations only if someone wants to get off or someone has called to request a pick up.
Rides cost between $3 and $5 dollars, one way. Up to three children, five and under, ride for free. Disabled veterans ride for free.
The Northstar Corridor Development Authority funds the Link commuter bus to help gauge and build transit use in the corridor. Members of the Northstar Corridor Development Authority are interested in adding midday train service when the timing and the financing are right. The Northstar Link Fabulous Friday midday service is one way to help accomplish those goals. The rest of the week, the Northstar Link connects the St. Cloud area and Becker with the train station in Big Lake. For more information, check out www.catchthelink.com.