Metro Transit's free rides on Green Line opening weekend defy bad weather blues

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2014 - 10:00 PM

Metro Transit Rid­er­ship up 12% de­spite a storm­y open­ing week­end.

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Riders hoping to get on the lightrail train had to deal with near gail force winds at times Saturday, June 14, 2014, at Union Station in St. Paul, MN.

Photo: DAVIDJOLES/STARTRIBUNE,

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The nov­el­ty of the new Green Line plus free rides on bus­es and oth­er trains gave Metro Transit a big bump in rid­er­ship last week­end when Green Line trains made their de­but.

Num­bers re­leased Fri­day by the Metropolitan Council showed that 107,000 rides were tak­en on the Green Line that runs be­tween Union Depot in down­town St. Paul and Tar­get Field in down­town Minneapolis.

When bus rides, the Blue Line and the Northstar Com­mut­er line were add­ed in, Metro Transit pro­vid­ed 392,733 rides over the June 14-15 week­end.

“We were pleased with the re­sponse this week­end and had peo­ple from all walks of life,” said trans­it spokes­man John Siqveland. “Op­er­a­tion­al­ly it was a suc­cess and it gave us a chance to intro­duce serv­ice to new rid­ers and say hel­lo to our longtime cus­tom­ers.”

Num­bers might have been even high­er had it not been for storms that rolled through the met­ro area June 14 and forced the can­cel­la­tion of fes­tivi­ties cele­brat­ing the open­ing of the $957-mil­lion line. More than 61,000 rides were tak­en on the Green Line on June 14.

Regu­lar Green Line rid­er­ship is pro­ject­ed to be 27,500 daily by 2015 and 40,000 by 2030.

About 250,000 peo­ple use Metro Transit’s bus­es and trains on a nor­mal week­end. The free rides gave the trans­it a­gen­cy a 12 percent boost, Siqveland said.

Num­bers from the Met Council show that 211,962 rides were tak­en on regu­lar Metro Transit routes and 60,562 tak­en on the Blue Line, the light-rail line be­tween the Mall of America and down­town Minneapolis. More than 2,230 rides were tak­en on the Northstar Com­mut­er line, and 1,319 on the Metro Red Line, the bus rapid trans­it line that runs from the Mall of America to Lake­ville and Apple Valley.

Sup­ple­men­tal serv­ice and those op­er­at­ed by the Met Council ac­count­ed for a little over 8,000 rides while Minnesota Valley Transit Authority pro­vid­ed 1,904 rides.

Metro Transit also de­buted its big­gest make­o­ver of bus routes since the Blue Line op­ened in 2004. Free rides al­lowed rid­ers to try 17 new and reconfigured bus routes, many of which feed into the Green Line.

A­mong the chan­ges:

New route (83) on Lexington Avenue in St. Paul.

In­creased fre­quen­cy on routes 62, 63, 67 and 84 with stops at Green Line trans­it sta­tions along University Avenue.

Oth­ers such as Route 3 have new down­town St. Paul pickup points and run on dif­fer­ent streets while the 16 and 94 ex­press bus­es run less of­ten.

Route 50 to the University of Minnesota is gone.

“This is a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­ni­ty to launch a serv­ice like this, and by giv­ing free rides it al­lows peo­ple to try out those con­nec­tions,” Siqveland said.

Mon­day marked the first day rid­ers had to pay to ride the Green Line. Siqveland said Metro Transit will soon re­lease open­ing-week rid­er­ship to­tals.

 

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768

  • related content

  • After more than a decade of planning, the first trains on the Green Line prepared to leave the station last Saturday.

  • FREE RIDES ADD UP

    Green Line 107,039

    Supp. bus service 3,391

    Regular bus 211,962

    Blue Line 60,562

    Red Line BRT 1,319

    Northstar 2,234

    Contracted bus 4,322

    MVTA 1,904

    Total 392,733

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