Customers boarded Metro Transit buses and trains nearly 81 million times in 2011 – an increase of 2.7 million rides (3.5%) over 2010.
For only the second time in 30 years, Metro Transit ridership has exceeded 80 million,” said General Manager Brian Lamb. “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.”
This marks the fifth consecutive annual ridership above 76 million – a number not previously achieved since 1982.
With total ridership of 80,886,892 in 2011, the year rivaled 2008’s historic 81.8 million rides.
Bus ridership accounted for all of the year-over-year gains, posting a 4.3 percent increase to 69.8 million.
Ridership increased in all three types of 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 while 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.
HIAWATHA LIGHT RAIL
Ridership topped 10.4 million for the second time in the line’s seven-year history, falling short of last year’s record year by just 55,000 rides. Although daily commuter ridership continues to increase, the overall ridership decline is attributable to fewer special event riders (primarily in January and September).
“Customers continued to choose the region’s first light-rail line – mostly for work or school trips, but also to get to the other many popular destinations on the line,” said Lamb. “Average weekday ridership on the Hiawatha Line is exceeding projections for the year 2020 by about 27%.”
NORTHSTAR COMMUTER RAIL
Ridership among daily commuters was up 7 percent in 2011. Overall ridership declined 1%, however, primarily due to a freight train derailment near Fridley in mid-July which halted all rail service on the BNSF track for several days. As with the Hiawatha light rail line, there were also fewer special event riders in 2010 than in 2011.
“Despite some new challenges in 2011, Northstar performed very well in its second full year of service,” said Lamb. “The primary market of daily commuters continued to increase and the line again ended the year under budget. Even during the toughest weather conditions, Northstar proved its reliability with near-perfect on-time performance at more than 96%.”