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Transit ridership topped 80 million in 2011

For just the second time in 30 years, Metro Transit ridership exceeded the 80 million mark in 2011, the agency reported Tuesday.
A total of 80.9 million passengers boarded Metro Transit buses and trai

For just the second time in 30 years, Metro Transit ridership exceeded the 80 million mark in 2011, the agency reported Tuesday.

A total of 80.9 million passengers boarded Metro Transit buses and trains — an increase of 2.7 million, or 3.5 percent, over 2010.

“We’re grateful to our customers and proud to achieve this benchmark, which reinforces the broader trend of more Twin Citians choosing to travel by bus and train,” said Brian Lamb, Metro Transit’s general manager.

Buses accounted for all of the system’s year-over-year ridership gain. Passengers on Metro Transit’s 123 bus routesincreased by 2.8 million, or 4.3 percent.

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Ridership increased in all three types of Metro Transit bus service:

  • Urban local routes — the heart of Metro Transit’s all-day service — increased 3.9 percent, or 2.2 million rides to 58.6 million.
  • Ridership on freeway-oriented express bus routes was up 5.3 percent, or 479,000 rides, to 9.5 million.
  • Rides on suburban crosstown routes grew 7.2 percent, or 114,000 rides, to 1.7 million.

“Ongoing fleet improvements and new technologies like the Go-To card and real-time bus departure information make riding the bus more predictable and pleasant than ever,” said Lamb.

Ridership was down slightly on Metro Transit’s two rail lines. The Hiawatha light-rail transit (LRT) line carried 10.4 million passengers, a decline of 55,000 from 2010. And the Northstar commuter rail line carried 703,000 passengers, down 7,000 from a year ago.

Agency officials said Hiawatha ridership declined, in part, because there were fewer special events in downtown Minneapolis last year. And Northstar ridership was harmed because of a freight train derailment that disrupted commuter rail service for several days last summer.