On Friday, October 1, 2021, Northstar Link will resume charging fares for all transportation services.
When fares resume, Northstar Link will be implementing new fareboxes and fare payment options including a new smart card and mobile app, known as the Metro Bus Smart Ride Card and Metro Bus Smart Ride App respectively. Northstar Link is operated by Metro Bus.
Effective Wednesday, September 8, the new Smart Ride Cards and the Smart Ride App will be available to the public online and at select outlets.
The Smart Ride App will be available on the App Store for iPhone users and Google Play for Android users by searching for “Smart Ride.” The Smart Ride App can be used to purchase 31-Day Passes for Northstar Link. Customers can board buses using the Smart Ride App with a 31-Day Pass. Learn more at catchthelink.com/smart-ride/.
Customers can purchase Smart Ride Cards with passes or Stored Value on them online at smartridecard.com. Shipping and handling fees apply and customers can expect to receive their Smart Ride Card in five to seven business days. Customers can also register their Smart Ride Cards online through the same portal to protect their passes and value against loss, theft or damage of their Smart Ride Card. All sales are final and value can only be transferred to a new card if the original was registered.
Smart Ride Cards will also be available at select partner outlets throughout the service area beginning September 8. Pass outlets will be selling pre-loaded Smart Ride Cards with $25 of Stored Value on them which can be used to pay fares on Northstar Link as well as any Metro Bus services. Additional pass outlets may be added at a later date. Locations include:
- Lunds & Byerlys at the service counter
- St. Cloud Hospital Gift Gallery
- St. Benedict’s Community gift shop
- CentraCare Plaza gift shop
Beginning Sunday, September 19, customers will be able to purchase Smart Ride Cards with value and/or passes at the Metro Bus Transit Center located at 510 1st St. S in downtown St. Cloud via the Ticket Vending Machine or the customer service counter. Customers will also be able to exchange unused passes, tokens and change cards at the Transit Center daily from 9 AM to 2 PM, including weekends, through October 16. Smart Ride Cards will also be free during this time. All previous fare media will be transferred over to Smart Cards, including partial ride passes and 31-Day Passes activated on or after March 17, 2020.
The option to exchange passes, tokens and change cards will last until Saturday, October 16, after which Smart Ride Cards will cost $3 in addition to the cost of any passes or stored monetary value purchased to the card. All unused passes from prior to the implementation of the new fareboxes, tokens and change cards will be have no value after October 16. The new fareboxes will no longer offer change.
Customers can still pay their fare with cash but are encouraged to only use exact change. Fareboxes and Bus Operators are not able to give or make change.
Fares will not change for any Northstar Link services.
Northstar Link customers can visit the Metro Bus Mobility Training Center at 700 West. St. Germain in St. Cloud to try the new farebox or call the Mobility Training Center to schedule free travel training at 320.529.4487. Customers are also encouraged to visit catchthelink.com, follow Northstar Link on Facebook and Twitter and monitor communications onboard buses and at the Transit Center for updates and more information.