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.