Met Council Mulls 25-cent Fare Cut at Fridley Northstar Station
Fare would drop from $3.25 to $3 on weekdays starting Aug. 1.
Weekday fares would drop by $1 at all Northstar Commuter Rail stations except Fridley's, under a plan that the Metropolitan Council's Transportation Committee is considering Monday.
Fares for Fridley riders would drop 25 cents. All weekend/non-rush-hour fares would stay the same.
The fare change, as reported in the Star Tribune, would be temporary, running from Aug. 1, 2012, to April 30, 2013. If the committee approves it Monday, the full Met Council would vote on the play July 27.
The plan provides "pricing flexibility in a time of economic recovery and encourages customer integration to public transportation," according to a Met Council memo (see PDF). "Our surveys of non-Northstar riders living within the Northstar Corridor shows that a prime factor in the decision to not ride commuter rail is the established fare set."
Ridership for the year as of May is 7.25 percent less than budgeted, according to the memo. Northstar ridership dropped in 2011 to 703,427 from 710, 426 in 2010—with 28,275 Fridley Station riders in 2011.
A primary reason Metro Transit cited for Northstar's ridership slump in 2011: the freight-train derailment in Fridley that shut the line for four days in July.
Fridley Station is the closest to the line's southern terminus in downtown Minneapolis and sees the fewest riders of the five stations on the Northstar route, including Coon Rapids, Anoka, Elk River and Big Lake. (A new station at Ramsey is in the works.) In February, MPR reported that Fridley Station's 668 parking spaces only had 29 regular park-and-ride users.
Fridley-only Bus Too
The proposed 25-cent fare decrease wouldn't be the only transit program or policy that only applies to Fridley.
In February, Metro Transit announced the start of a new bus route that runs entirely within the city of Fridley, circulating along a route with major employers such as Medtronic and Unity Hospital, and connecting to Northstar trains. In April, the buses started running in a counter-clockwise rather than clockwise route in both mornings and afternoons.