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Northstar rail ridership falls 21% below expectations

  • January 18, 2011 - 8:01 PM

While the Northstar commuter-rail line draws far fewer riders than expected, the Hiawatha light-rail line in Minneapolis continues to gain customers in its sixth year of operation. 2010 ridership figures from Metro Transit show:

6 percent

Increase in ridership on the Hiawatha line, which runs from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America.

10.5 MILLION TRIPS

By passengers, the highest annual ridership in Hiawatha history.

The increase in riders is due, in part, to the first full year of Northstar's operation, Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons said. Northstar passengers sometimes transfer to the light-rail line in Minneapolis.

2.3 PERCENT

Rise from 2009 in passengers on all Metro Transit buses and trains.

78 MILLION TRIPS

Were taken in 2010, the fourth time that transit annual ridership has exceeded that figure.

ONLY 710,400 RIDES

Were taken on the Northstar commuter line, nearly 21 percent below early expectations for 2010. Transit officials say the rush-hour service between Minneapolis and Big Lake was hurt by high unemployment, which resulted in fewer people headed downtown.

FOOTBALL VS. BASEBALL

The Northstar ridership did slightly worse than projected as recently as November.

"We would have benefited from two Minnesota Vikings home games ... except the Metrodome became the Metrodish," Gibbons remarked.

The Northstar did get a boost from baseball fans going to Target Field.

Northstar's operations in 2010 finished within its budget, officials said.

PAT DOYLE

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