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Rider's Almanac Blog


Ridership growing in corridors with fast, frequent service

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, March 5, 2020 8:49:00 AM

Ridership continues to rise in corridors with fast, frequent service.

The METRO Green Line and METRO A Line each set annual ridership records in 2019. Ridership in the corridor served by the METRO C Line, which opened in June, increased by about one-third compared to ridership before construction began on Penn Avenue.

The A Line and C Line are Metro Transit’s first Bus Rapid Transit lines, providing service every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day and trips that are up to 25% faster.

“The continued success of our light rail and Bus Rapid Transit lines are a reminder that the most effective way to keep and attract riders is by providing fast, frequent and reliable service,” Metro Transit General Manager Wes Kooistra said.

More than 14.2 million rides were provided on the Green Line in 2019, a 3% increase from the year before. Ridership on the Green Line has risen every year since service began in 2014. More than 11 million rides were provided on the Blue Line, just shy of the annual ridership record set on the light rail line in 2018.

In its third full year of service, customers took nearly 1.7 million rides on the A Line, a 3% increase from 2018. More than 1.2 million rides were taken on the C Line, which opened in June 2019. Total ridership in the A Line and C Line corridors has increased by about one-third since the BRT lines opened.

Systemwide, Metro Transit provided more than 77.9 million total rides in 2019. The ridership total includes nearly 49 million local and express bus rides (including Maple Grove Transit, which is operated under contract by Metro Transit). Total ridership declined 3% from 2018 to 2019, primarily due to a drop in bus ridership. 

While total bus ridership declined, it has grown on select local and express routes where service has been improved, including routes 11, 54 and several express routes that operate on the Interstate 35W corridor. 

Regional ridership across transit types and providers declined 2.7% from 2018, from 94.2 million rides to 91.5 million rides.

Metro Transit is actively planning a full build-out of the region’s BRT network and other bus network improvements.

The METRO Orange Line will bring BRT service to the Interstate 35W corridor in late 2021. Service in corridors now served by some of Metro Transit’s busiest local bus routes – the 5, 21 and 6 – will also be significantly improved with BRT service in the coming years, pending full funding, as proposed by Gov. Tim Walz.

A vision for the bus network of 2040, known as Network Next, is also being developed with customer and community input.

2019 Ridership At A Glance

Mode Total Rides Average Weekday Rides Percent change from 2018
Local & Express Bus 48,963,424 163,217 - 8%
METRO Green Line 14,254,202 44,004 + 3%
METRO Blue Line 11,045,240 32,973 - 1%
Bus Rapid Transit (A & C lines) 2,896,603 11,810* +79%
Northstar 767,767 2,739 - 2%
Total 77,927,236 251,564 - 3%

* Since the METRO C Line opened in June 2019