ST. CLOUD — People are hopping on board the Northstar Link Commuter Bus in record numbers to travel in the highway 10 corridor between St. Cloud and Minneapolis. Link ridership in September reached a new high, with more than 5,400 rides, an 18 percent increase over September 2012.
The Northstar Link Commuter Bus, which has stops between St. Cloud and Big Lake, coordinates with most Northstar Commuter Rail train arrivals and departures at the Big Lake Station seven days each week. The train schedule primarily serves commuters during rush hours, and offers limited weekend service plus some special events, including Twins baseball and Vikings football games.
The number of commuters on the train also is growing. September 2013 ridership was up about seven percent over September 2012.
The top three reasons people use Northstar Link are cost savings, stress-free travel, and convenience, according to Stearns County Commissioner Leigh Lenzmeier, chair of the Northstar Corridor Development Authority, which is the group that oversees the Link.
“I give some of the credit for the increased ridership to the efforts of the St. Cloud State Mass Communications students last year,” Commissioner Lenzmeier said. “As a class project, they helped build awareness on campus for the Link and train services. Now it’s common to have Sunday evening buses full of students headed back to SCSU.”
Commissioner Lenzmeier went on to say that the majority of riders use Link services more than one day a week, which he believes is helping to manage congestion on highways 10 and 94.
There is one weekday bus trip that isn’t tied to the train schedule. Northstar Link makes it possible to work a half day or make a short, leisurely trip on Fridays. The Fabulous Friday midday bus service starts in St. Cloud at 10:15 a.m. and ends in Minneapolis at 12:45 p.m., with stops in between at Becker and all Northstar train stations, except Fridley. The bus leaves downtown Minneapolis and heads north at 1 p.m. with stops at all Northstar stations, except Fridley.