Train gain

The Northstar Commuter Rail sees a notable jump in ridership

Ridership on Metro Transit's Northstar Commuter Rail (Route 888) jumped by more than 50,000 passengers - up 15.1 percent - in the first half of this year compared to the year-ago period. And in June, customers boarded Northstar trains an average of 3,058 times per weekday - the first time the 3,000 mark has been passed in the line's history. So reports the Metropolitan Council.

Launched in 2009, the line runs 40 miles between Big Lake - northwest of the Twin Cities metro area - and downtown Minneapolis (Target Field Station), with stops in Elk River, Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids, and Fridley. The ride takes about 50 minutes end to end and allows commuters to bypass major gridlock on the "freeways." Once in the city, passengers can transfer to buses or the light-rail line for free.

Part of the reason for the jump was the Ramsey station opening in November last year. Also helping were lower fares made permanent earlier this year.