Sunday, October 16, 2011

Showing up on billboards finally

Northstar Commuter Rail passengers may see something next time they drive around the northern Twin Cities suburbs: Their new way to work.

Metro Transit has begun a billboard advertising campaign, touting Northstar as 'The cure for gas problems. Take twice daily.'

While admirable, one question exists: where has this been in the past?

The fact that Northstar is still a secret to thousands of North Metro commuters is really no secret. Metro Transit does very little to market their services, depending on word-of-mouth to get the message across that transit IS an alternative for some.

Sadly, the fact that the train is not doing as well as expected is in part due to the lack of advertising by Metro Transit. Northstar trains are not touted on radio or TV, nor are they in newspaper advertising. What little is out there is very generic, non-route/corridor-specific advertising aimed at everybody, not focused on targeted areas of interest (no transit ads aimed at 35-W or 35-E commuters touting buses not affected by road construction, etc.)

And now, with the Twins' season mercifully over, the Vikings' season in the tank, and the Timberwolves not playing at all (due to the NBA lockout), there is even less reason to ride Northstar for those whose personal schedules do not mesh with the train's limited service.

Somebody better start thinking of more advertising...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Metro Transit's way to deal with Northstar interruption: Not deal with it at all

OK, Northstar riders. NOW do you see how much Metro Transit really cares about your service?

The abject failure of Metro Transit to clearly deal with the aftermath of BNSF Railway's train derailment early Saturday shows this blogger just how little the agency is committed to transit alternatives in the North Metro.

An eastbound grain train derailed after the embankment next to the Rice Creek bridge washed away following Saturday's early-morning 3+ inch rainfall in Fridley. The fact of the matter is that although the Staples Subdivision (the main line of BNSF that was washed out) would not allow trains to operate east of Coon Creek, the mainline west of Coon Creek was totally unscathed. Northstar could have operated with a bus bridge from Coon Rapids (Riverdale) to Downtown Minneapolis' 5th Street Transit Center, one block east of the train's Target Field terminus. This is especially true on Monday, where the combination of the start of the workweek and the Twins' day-night doubleheader (two admissions) would have been a prime example for showing that Northstar could have all-day service.

Instead, a terse statement was issued from Metro Transit Saturday afternoon, saying that Northstar trains were cancelled thru Monday, including for Twins' games on Saturday, Sunday and the Monday doubleheader, and that passengers, including commuters on Monday, were on their own to fend for themselves to get to work, or wherever they were going.

This is definitely a way that Metro Transit shows how they feel about the North suburbs. If this had happened on a South Suburban rail line, you would bet that they would have a bus bridge set up and pronto! But we live in the North Suburbs, where bus routes are not coordinated properly, and when disruptions occur, 'you're on your own! We can't get to you! Good Luck!'

This is disgusting...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Every Twins Game gets a Northstar train in 2011

Metro Transit, operator of the Northstar commuter train service, announced that there would be trains for all 81 Twins' baseball home games in 2011. Most games would be covered by existing trains in at least one direction. Twins day games normally start at either 12:10 PM (except Sundays), 1:10 PM (Sundays) or at 2:55 PM (Saturday day games televised by FOX, as part of their 'Major League Game of the Week' package). Night games start at 7:10 PM except on Saturdays, when home games start at 6:10 PM.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's not just happening here, folks!

The severe winter weather which has become December, 2010, has not just affected transportation in the USA & Canada. While during the first two recent 'Snow-namis' both the Northstar and Hiawatha Light Rail lines ran nearly normally (Northstar ran on time throughout, thanks to BNSF Railway) the MSP Airport closed, buses (transit and intercity) stopped, and Amtrak's Empire Builder ran late, but it was still running, although once passengers arrived in St. Paul, they were stranded if they did not have a ride already, as the taxi companies pulled their taxis off the streets due to too much snow.

Europe has been affected as well. The system that hit Minnesota last weekend hit Europe this weekend, with equally devastating results. Eurostar services between London and Paris/Brussels as well as all high-speed services in France have had a 170-KPH (105 MPH)
speed restriction slapped on them, adding as much as two hours on London-Paris Eurostar runs. Trains are being turned back at their endpoints and are being sent out immediately, with lines of holiday travellers at London's St. Pancras International Terminal, supposedly out the doors and into the streets of London. Eurostar has requested that passengers who do not need to travel between Britain and the Continent, postpone their trip until after the Christmas holiday.

Eurostar is not scheduled to operate any trains on Christmas day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Northstar Changes; Route 889 dropped

Metro Transit quietly dropped the Route 889 mid-day Northstar substitute bus on October 28th. The next day, a Friday-only thru bus (operating between St. Cloud and Downtown Minneapolis, stopping at all Northstar and Northstar Link stations) began operation. Dubbed Route 887F, the bus (operated by St. Cloud MetroBus) operates Fridays ONLY, allowing for mid-day service to all stations on the last day of most people's workweeks.

In other Northstar news, Nov. 16th and 17th (Tuesday and Wednesday) Northstar is FREE for all passengers, as Metro Transit celebrates Northstar's first anniversary and tries to attract more riders just ahead of the winter road aggravation season. Now, if there's snow either of those days, those free rides to and from Downtown Minneapolis, without the plethora of traffic accidents, are going to look mighty good...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Skol Northstar! Vikings game trains schedule announced

OK, Vikings faithful. Your team is playing 'exhibition' football. Soon, you all will begin your annual treks to the 'Dome, and you'll wait for-ever to get out of the parking lots/ramps after the game...

...unless you ride Northstar, in which case, the train will wait for YOU. For one hour after the final gun.

Metro Transit has released the train schedule for the first full season of Vikings' football, available at: .

Soon, your pre-game parking worries will be over. Now remember, there is NO TAILGATING in Northstar parking lots. No liquor may be consumed (or, for that matter, poured) in them, either, nor on the trains (or any Metro Transit property) themselves.

You've been told. And, warned. So behave yourselves, folks.

Oh, and for those of you who are Gopher football fans: This service will NOT be available for Gopher football games.

Our condolences on your team's predicted fortune, this upcoming college football season.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Northstar catches 'Twins' fever', Becker added as commuter bus stop

Just briefly: Northstar commuter buses from St. Cloud to Big Lake will operate for designated Minnesota Twins home games, primarily on Saturdays, the rest of the 2010 MLB season. Catch the details at Look for Route 887 or go to the 'Northstar' tab.

In addition, St. Cloud-Big Lake buses now also stop at Becker en route, both directions, for all trips.