Riders board a State Fair Express bus; photo: Met Council


 Minnesotans (and others) went to the  Minnesota State Fair in droves in 2012 - 1,788,512 people to be precise - and many of them took the bus.

Metro Transit reports that 13 percent of attendees took advantage of Express Bus service or used regular-route service to get to the Great Minnesota Get Together. The 466,818  rides was about 77,300 fewer than in 2011, but was right in line with the average number of rides to and from the fair over the past few years, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.

"2011 represented an out-of-the-ordinary spike at 15.9 percent higher than in 2010," he said.

Even with the decline, Metro Transit provided transportation for about 1 of every 6 fairgoers.

Metro Transit operated 12 park and ride lots throughout the metro area from which it provided non-stop service to the fair. The three busiest locations were, in order, the County Road 73 Park and Ride in Minnetonka, the lot at 82nd Street and 24th Avenue S. near the Mall of America in Bloomington, and the National Sports Center in Blaine.

The least used lots were the Maplewood Mall and the Marcus Cinema lot in Oakdale.

Siqveland points out that those numbers are somewhat skewed because some lots are smaller than others, have less frequent service or had restricted hours. That was the case at Dunwoody College in Minneapolis where service was offered only on weekends and Labor Day. The same was true at the Knox Avenue lot near Best Buy in Richfield and the Maple Grove Transit station.

A couple of popular lots saw changes in 2012. The Northtown Mall lot was moved to the National Sports Center in Blaine to accomodate more vehicles. The lot at Southdale was eliminated due to a renovation and expansion project. Riders who parked there in the past were directed to the 82nd Street lot or the Knox Avenue lot near Best Buy.

Metro Transit used 54 buses to transport fairgoers.

Southwest Transit, based in the southwest metro, ran express buses from Chanhassen and Eden Prairie and provided 71,862 rides. Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) provided service from lots in Burnsville and Eagan and gave 48,952 rides, said Robin Selvig, MVTA manager of customer relations.


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