The opening of the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan boosted bus ridership on Minnesota Valley Transit Authority routes and on the Metro Red Line during mall's four-day grand opening Aug. 14-17, a spokeswoman for the south suburban transit agency said.

Free rides certainly helped MVTA record a 13 percent increase over its normal Thursday and Friday ridership with 4,900 rides given compared with the usual 4,352 while weekend traffic at the Cedar Grove Transit Station was up 29 percent from 1,179 to 2,209.

Seven MVTA routes served the Cedar Grove Transit Station, which is across the street from the 100-store outlet mall at Hwy. 13 and Cedar Avenue.

The Metro Red Line, the BRT line that runs Cedar Avenue from Mall of America in Bloomington to Apple Valley, saw an 86 percent gain in ridership from Thursday Aug. 14 to Sunday Aug. 17, with a total of 4,543 rides given. Weekend ridership was up more than 50 percent, with Saturday and Sunday ridership of 1,859 rides, said MVTA spokeswoman Robin Selvig.

MVTA and Metro Transit partnered with outlet mall owners, Simon Properties, to offer the free rides.

"Twin Cities Premium Outlets is the driver of our Cedar Grove redevelopment," said MVTA Board and Eagan City Council member Gary Hansen. "Many jobs are available at this new regional destination, and it is driving additional redevelopment in the area, With the Cedar Grove Transit Station right across the street, we knew that transit would be a key component of this redevelopment. We are pleased to see that this was confirmed by strong ridership on opening day and through the weekend."

MVTA serves the cities of Rosemount, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan and Savage.

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