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Metro Transit drops Twins Express bus service due to low ridership

Just like Twins attendance over the past few years, the number of fans taking Metro Transit's Twins Express buses to Target Field has declined, too.

Ridership on Route 679 is down so much that the agency has decided to drop the service that for the past six years have ferried fans between the I-394 and County Road 73 Park and Ride and Target Field.

“We have done everything we can to get that route going,” Kelci Stones, a specialist in Metro Transit's marketing department told the Met Council this week.  “We couldn't continue the service this year any further.”

The service offering a round trip ride for $5 debuted in 2010 with the opening of the Twins' new stadium and generated more than 100,000 rides. Since the Twins won the division title that year, the team has struggled on the field and at the box office. Consequently, Metro Transit has seen a steady downturn in fans taking the express bus to the games. Last season, ridership fell to an all-time low of just 26,000 for the 81 home games.

Stones said efforts to boost ridership, which included direct mailings and advertising to promote the service along the I-394 corridor, wasn't enough to continue the service.

The end of Route 679 comes as Metro Transit is facing a $74 million deficit and faces the prospect of having to cut other routes and services.

Fans who have bought Route 679 fares online in the past were notified of the elimination of the service through emails, Stones said. Posters also were put up at the park and ride and notices were posted on the agency's website.

Last year about 12 percent of Twins fans used Metro Transit to get to Target Field, which included regular route services, light-rail and the Northstar commuter train. In total, Metro Transit provided 453,398 rides to and from the ballpark, Stones said.

There are 13 bus routes that serve Target Field neighborhood and other routes that connect to light rail, Stones pointed out. Those routes will continue this year as will service on the Northstar.

When Target Field opened, Metro Transit provided transportation to about 17 percent of fans. "As attendance has gone down, so has ridership," said General Manager Brian Lamb.


Nice Ride's 1,700 bikes will be back in the racks Monday



Baseball will be back Monday as the Minnesota Twins kickoff the 2017 season with a game at Target Field, but that's not the only season opener on the calendar that day.

The folks at Nice Ride Minnesota are getting their 1,700 shiny green bikes out of storage and plan to have them available for riding by Monday, according to an announcement on its Facebook page.

"Nice Ride Minnesota is excited to announce our 8th successful season! Bikes hit the road April 3, providing more fun ways to get from A to B. Let's ride, it's Nice Ride season," the organization wrote.

It also announced the following rates for the new riding season:

  • Single rides will be charged at $3 per half hour from the time the bike leaves the station.
  • Usage fees of $3 per half hour will be charged for all rides over 60 minutes for riders with memberships and 30 minutes for those with 24 hour passes.
  • $6 for a 24-hour pass (each ride can last 30 minutes)
  • $18 for 30-day membership (each ride can last 60 minutes)
  • $75 for 1-year membership (each ride can last 60 minutes)

Finding a bike or station got a lot easier last year when Nice Ride launched its Nice Ride Share app - available free from Apple iTunes and the Google Play Store. And just as the 2016 season wrapped up, it also made information available on the popular app called Transit.

Users of that app can reserve and pay for a Nice Ride bike and plan trips that come with step-by-step directions using other modes of public transportation, including ride sharing, buses, light-rail and other forms of transit "so users can determine the best way to get from A to B," Nice Ride's website says.

The 2017 season begins as bikeshare programs are rapidly expanding. There are now 55 bike-share programs in the United States offering a total of more than 42,000 bikes, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, which released a report on bikesharing use earlier this month. In 2016, riders took more than 28 million trips, on par with the annual ridership of the entire Amtrak system, and higher than the number of people visiting Walt Disney World each year, the association said.

Since 2010, riders made more than 88 million trips made on a bike share bike, the association said.

The country’s largest systems generate the vast majority of all bike share rides, with the five biggest systems (Citi Bike in New York, Capital Bikeshare in Greater Washington DC, Citi Bike in Miami, Divvy in Chicago, and Hubway in Greater Boston) generating 85% of all bike share trips.

Nice Ride reported in November that 432,284 trips were taken last year on the system.