Ridership on the new Bus Rapid Transit line on Cedar Avenue in the southern suburbs is off to strong start according to figures released Thursday by the Metropolitan Council.

The new service known as the Metro Red Line debuted on June 22 and in its first month of operation averaged close to 800 rides per day on weekdays and 450 per day on weekends, the council said.

Overall, the service which uses special buses to transport riders along the shoulders of Cedar Avenue between the Apple Valley Transit Station and the Mall of America provided 22,000 rides. Of those, about 1,000 were taken during the promotional period from June 22 through June 30 when rides were free.

The 800 daily rides provided on weekdays puts the line on target to reach its goal of providing 975 rides a day by June 2014. Projections boost that number to 1,600 by 2017.

"It's encouraging to see solid Metro Red Line ridership during the earliest days of regular service," said Pat Born, regional administrator for the Metropolitan Council. "Cedar is a strong corridor for commuters, and these early figures illustrate the additional demand for frequent, all-day service which the Red Line also provides."

The Red Line operates much like the Blue Line light-rail line, except with buses that travel in bus-only lanes and on highway shoulders. It stops only at the five stations along the line and operates every 15 minutes on weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends.

The line operated by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority has five stops - the Apple Valley Transit Station, 147th Street, 140th Street, the Cedar Grove Transit Station and the Mall of America - with additional stops planned. The line eventually will extend to Lakeville with planned stops at 161st Street, Glacier Way,  195th Street and 215th Street.




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