With only one person regularly getting on and off the bus, Metro Transit is proposing that Route 852 no longer stops next to Ramsey’s Northstar Commuter Rail station.
“I think I’m one of two people who use it regularly. I know the other guy,” said James Horvath of Elk River, who is dropped off by a friend almost every weekday to take the 1:03 p.m. bus down to Minneapolis before taking another bus to the University of Minnesota for art classes.
The bus arrives every weekday at 12:50 p.m. at the Ramsey rail station. Jan. 10, nobody got off the bus at that time. Another man stood nearby before being picked up by a friend. Horvath arrived a couple of minutes before the bus departed at 1:03 p.m. with nobody else on board but the driver.
The bus returns to Ramsey at 8:51 p.m., but does not go back to Minneapolis.
To compensate for the fact that Northstar is designed for early morning and late afternoon commuters to Minneapolis, Metro Transit agreed to extend bus route 852 to the new Ramsey station to give residents another option.
Route 852 makes five stops in Anoka, three stops in Coon Rapids and a stop at the Northtown Mall transit center in Blaine. The Anoka Technical College is the stop with the most frequent bus trips that is closest to Ramsey. The other end of the route in downtown Minneapolis is at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 11th Street.
Metro Transit spokesperson John Siqveland said all of Route 852 averaged 1,100 rides per day in 2013 so the route itself is doing well with the exception of the Ramsey stop.
Siqveland did not have any route projections immediately available, but said that an average of one person being on the bus between Ramsey and Anoka Technical College, “is certainly not up to our expectations.”
Metro Transit must get consent from the Ramsey City Council to discontinue this service. This bus route started making a stop in Ramsey in March 2013 and was supposed to run for 18 months, according to the agreement between the city and the Metropolitan Council when Ramsey agreed to join the metropolitan transit taxing district.
Ramsey taxpayers will pay an estimated $295,000 annually for the city to be in the transit taxing district, according to Ramsey Finance Director Diana Lund. Aside from Metro Transit operating the Northstar commuter line, the Metropolitan Council paid 10 percent of the construction costs for the rail station.
Although the council during a Jan. 7 workshop did not disagree with Metro Transit’s proposal to discontinue the Route 852 bus stop in Ramsey, it asked city staff to discuss ways Metro Transit could increase awareness before stopping it.
Siqveland said Metro Transit and the city are in the early stages of discussions on Route 852, so no official decision has been made.
“I like the idea of expanded service, but we need to be cognizant of not wasting public dollars,” City Administrator Kurt Ulrich said.
St. Cloud Metro Bus operates the Northstar Link between St. Cloud and Minneapolis, which runs every day, but only stops in Ramsey on Fridays. The southbound departure time is 11:40 p.m. and the northbound arrival time is 1:55 p.m.
Horvath hopes Metro Transit does not discontinue the Route 852 bus stop in Ramsey. “I really need this to get around,” he said.
Eric Hagen is at