The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority recorded its third highest ridership last year even through the number of rides provided was down by about 10,000 compared to 2011 numbers.
The 2,546,411 rides provided in 2012 were about 70,000 rides short of the transit authority's all time high which was set in 2008., said spokeswoman Robin Selvig.
Route 460, which offers express service between Burnsville and downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota, was the most used route. Route 477, which offers express service to and from Apple Valley and downtown Minneapolis, the second and Route 444, which provides local service between Savage, Burnsville, the Cedar Grove Transit Station and the Mall of America, was third.
While overall ridership slipped a notch in 2012, several routes did see significant gains, Selvig said.
They include a 47 percent jump in the number of riders on Route 475. That route runs from Apple Valley and the Cedar Grove Transit Station in Eagan to the University of Minnesota.
Ridership on local route 445 from Eagan to the Mall of America was up more than 10 percent, and the number of riders taking MVTA buses from the core cities to their jobs in the suburbs was up by 12 percent, agency figures show.
Selvig said MVTA is looking for growth in 2013. She points to the opening of the the Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Line in June and improvments to Route 464 that also will take effect in June. The route provides express service between Savage and Minneapolis.
Recent additions to the system include the new Rosemount Transit Station, which opened in Decmeber and offers express bus service to Minneapolis. Service to St. Paul could be offered if federal funding becomes available.
MVTA provides service in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Rosemount and Savage. It has been in operation since 1991.