Northstar Link Commuter Bus will not operate on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays and will run a modified schedule for Friday, Nov. 26 and Monday, Dec. 26 to coordinate with the Northstar Commuter Rail train schedule, Route 888.
In honor of their service, all Veterans and active military ride free with a military ID on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11. All veterans and active military members to enjoy free rides on Northstar Link and all Metro Bus services. Fixed Route, ConneX and Dial-a-Ride. Customers must show their military ID upon boarding.
Northstar Link honors the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to protect our country! We are proud to employ many veterans and active-duty military members as well as military spouses and to provide service for veterans throughout our community.
Service-connected veterans also receive free rides on Fixed Route buses every day with proper identification.
Due to a court ruling on Monday, April 18, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) January 29, 2021 Order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at public transportation hubs is no longer in effect. Effective immediately, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not enforce its mask-related security directives.
With the order lifted, Metro Bus customers are no longer required to wear masks on buses or at facilities. The CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.
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.
Northstar Link is preparing for installation of new fareboxes for all buses in its fleet. The modern fareboxes will bring new ways for passengers to pay their fare. Touchless pay options will be available using the new Metro Bus Smart Ride Card and mobile phone application known as the Smart Ride App. Cash fares and Smart Ride Tickets for short-term use will also be available across all services.
The current Northstar Link fareboxes are over 20 years old. The new fareboxes, Smart Ride Cards and Smart Ride App will modernize the way Central Minnesotans are able to pay their bus fares. More information is available at https://www.ridemetrobus.com/home/smart-ride/.
The farebox transition will take place overnight on a weekend late in 2020. The date is yet to be determined. The date of the transition will be announced in the coming weeks. Service will not be interrupted for the transition.
We encourage customers to begin to use up their “old” fare media, including 31-Day Passes and 10-Ride Passes. The current passes will no longer be valid. Change cards will no longer be available or accepted after the transition.
Stay tuned to catchthelink.com and follow Northstar Link on Facebook and Twitter for more updates regarding the fare payment changes.
As part of the nation-wide effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, Northstar Link will reduce its schedule to match the Northstar Rail. There will be two southbound trips in the morning to meet the train along with two return trips northbound. There will also be two northbound trips in the evening after meeting the train as well as the two preceding southbound trips each afternoon to meet the train. There will not be Fabulous Friday (887F) or weekend service.
We encourage customers to only make essential trips at this time. Reducing the number of people on buses will make it easier for passengers and employees to follow social distancing guidelines.
Stay tuned to this website and our social media accounts for more information and updates.
Northstar Link prioritizes the health and safety of our passengers and employees. To that end, we want to keep our passengers and the public informed on the steps we are taking in regards to COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus.
We are continuously monitoring reports provided by federal, state and local government agencies and communicating with various organizations and affiliations, including the Minnesota Safety Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We encourage everyone to educate themselves on the recommendations of the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
Based on what has been communicated, we are taking the following preventative measures:
- We have been cleaning and will continue to clean our buses regularly.
- All efforts will be made to allow as much fresh air as possible into buses.
All Metro Bus services will remain status quo, unless directed otherwise by our federal or state partners.
Northstar Link respects the privacy of our passengers. To protect their privacy, Northstar Link requires written authorization from passengers regarding who may communicate with Northstar Link on the passenger’s behalf. This requirement is effective May 1, 2019, and impacts all passenger communications discussion about issues or concerns.
How to provide authorization: Northstar Link is a service of St. Cloud Metro Bus service. The authorization is provided through the completion of the Metro Bus Passenger Release of Information form. This form is available for everyone on the Northstar Link website. If the passenger has a legal guardian (Power of Attorney, Conservator, etc.) who is responsible for their well-being, proof of the legal guardianship is required.
Special Note for Caregivers, Health Care providers, Social Workers, Group Homes and Nursing Homes: This requirement impacts staff who set up rides for their patients/residents. In order for staff to talk about any issues with Northstar Link on behalf of the facilities’ clients, the facility or caregiver must be listed on the Passenger Release of Information form signed by the passenger or their legal guardian. Remember, if a legal guardian is authorizing, Northstar Link must have proof of the legal guardianship.
A St. Cloud Metro Bus city transit bus will be used as a short-term Northstar Link bus due to mechanical issues on the coach buses. This impacts the style of the vehicle only. The schedule is unaffected. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Northstar Link Commuter Bus will not operate on the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays and will run a modified schedule for the Friday after Thanksgiving and Monday, Christmas Eve to match the Northstar Commuter Rail train schedule, Route 888. Route 887F will not operate on Nov. 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Regular fares apply for all routes.