mp_main_wide_biglake111609_452On Monday, November 16th, the Northstar Commuter Rail trains made their first trip shuttling commuters into downtown Minneapolis.

The rail line was first conceived in 1993, and finished this year $10 million dollars under its original budget. This is the second rail system that Minneapolis has seen in recent years – in 2003 Hiawatha, a light rail system, was introduced there.

Read More About the North Star Debut

Earlier this year, Councilman Bill Peduto presented to Council the findings from a six-month study on the possibility of a commuter rail line in Pittsburgh. This city line would connect Hazelwood on the Monongahela River to Lawrenceville on the Allegheny River. It would pass near The Technology Center, Schenley Park, CMU and Oakland, The Baum-Centre Corridor, Bloomfield and Lawrenceville.

But this line would also be just one link in a multi-county regional system. Not only would it connect to the Mon Valley and Westmoreland County – via Norfolk-Southern -and the Allegheny Valley and Armstrong County – via the AVRR (which are two projects being pushed right now), but the CSX line itself extends North along Route 8 all the way to New Castle in Lawrence County, and South to Washington, PA. This leaves many possibilities open for further expansion in the future. Investment in this rail line for Pittsburgh would be a long-term investment in regional transportation.