FFM’s analysis of the first 100 days of the Northstar Commuter Rail was featured on national watchdog group Watchdog.org. The report uses public data to calculate the true cost of the commuter rail service and raises questions about if taxpayers are getting railroaded.
FIRST 100 DAYS OF NORTHSTAR COMMUTER RAIL
Ridership on Track So Far, But Taxpayer Subsidies are Staggering
While the Northstar Commuter Rail line is meeting its start-up ridership goals so far, it may be an uphill climb to double monthly ridership by September as projected, even with passengers paying just a fraction of the heavily subsidized train’s true cost, according to a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) analysis of the first 100 days of operation.
Passenger tallies obtained by FFM show total ridership of 167,922 from November 16, 2009 through February 25, 2010, closely in line with projections. Ridership counts are based on one-way trips, with round trip passengers being counted twice each day they use Northstar. The average number of one-way trips per day has ranged from 2,207 per day in November to 1,461 per day in January.
Metro Transit has set a goal of 897,000 riders in 2010. Monthly ridership goals begin at 45,000 in January, climbing to 71,600 in June and ramping up to 102,000 in November. In the first three full months of operation, ridership has averaged around 45,000.