Well, That Didn’t Take Long

On its third week in operation, a North Star line train crapped out during rush hour.

They went to Plan B:

Metro Transit sent two buses to Target Field in Minneapolis to pick up the 120 passengers aboard the 2:05 p.m. train, which never left the station, and take them to the five suburban stations along the Northstar line. The buses left about 3 p.m. and took 90 minutes to reach Big Lake, compared with the train’s normal 51 minutes, said Bob Gibbons, spokesman for Metro Transit, which owns the train.

An extra forty minutes?  Not counting the time it took for the buses to show up?

Ouch.  I wonder how that set with this woman, from the opening a few weeks back?

Kate Pound of St. Paul, was one of them and had one of the more complicated commutes. She rode her bicycle to a bus stop, transferred from the bus to a light-rail train and then to Northstar at Target Field. She departed the Big Lake station via a Northstar Link bus to her job as a geology teacher at St. Cloud State University.

“It’s great, it’s cheaper, I’m doing the right thing in terms of my carbon footprint,” she said. “But what if I’m late and miss my connection in Big Lake? As long as I don’t get stuck, this is the way to go.”

“As long as I don’t get stuck”.

Remember – there’s one outbound train in the morning, and one inbound train at night.

Come to think of it, I wonder how all those Rube Goldberg-like bike/bus/bus/rail/bus commutes are faring with the blizzard we have going on?

5 thoughts on “Well, That Didn’t Take Long

  1. Not tush hour, but a Sunday train with more of the users downtown shoppers. Actually the defective part is under warranty and the manufacturer is replacing it in all the locomotives this week (no charge to MetroTransit). And there are 5 inbound runs in the morning and 5 out bound runs in the evening. The 5 to 1 ratio is probably consistant with the directional travel on the highways during those times (weekday rush hour).

  2. Chuck – oops. Missed the Sunday part. Blah.

    But I did have it right; mornings, five in and one out. Evenings, five out and one in.

    So while our friend from St. Paul who bikes, buses and trains to Saint Cloud wasn’t probably affected, I thought about her on Tuesday, when the buses were running half an hour late. I had the option of waiting indoors. But when your lone link from Minneapolis to and from Saint Cloud is one eastbound evening train, that seems just a tad…


    Just saying.

  3. If the gov’t doesn’t run out of money paying for cash for caulkers and giving large sums of cash to the Heart of the Beast Theater so they can perform “socially responsable puppet shows”, they will expand it to St Cloud, which will then cause both ends to be a terminal, so rush hour trains going both directions. I’ve ridden it to attend a weekend event in the Elk River area. Rather fine operation. And it doesn’t cause chaos on University Ave like the light rail construction will.

    One reason I tolerate spending on transit systems is that once they are built, yes, you do have the ongoing operating subsidy, but they will be there for a century. A light rail tunnel under Washington Ave a the U could have been built for the cost of what congress was going to spend on a fleet of new helicopters. Guess which one of those two expenditures would still be providing utility in the year 2100.

  4. As I’ve noted in the past, I oppose commuter rail much less strongly than light rail, because it can support itself; it uses existing rail right of way, instead of having to buy, tear up and rebuild existing streets and areas. It makes much more sense.

    If gas prices zoom up again, I can see Northstar actually doing fairly well.

  5. If four out of five locomotives purchased for Northstar have had the throttle housing fail already, as the article claims, I’m not going to bet they do well, Mitch. Those big diesels are extremely reliable when properly cared for, so somebody SERIOUSLY screwed up in procurement and/or maintenance.

    Commuter rail might work well if government were not trying to run it.

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