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.