Metro Transit shattered a single-day ridership record when passengers took nearly 370,000 rides on buses, light-rail and commuter trains on Sept. 1, a night when the Twins, Vikings, Gophers and Saints all had home games.
The Thursday evening games, along with standard rush-hour traffic, helped spread fears of bumper-to-bumper congestion across the metro area, sending fans to public transportation.
Thousands more who headed to the State Fair helped Metro Transit surpass the previous record of 355,665 set on Sept. 3, 2015, according to figures released Friday.
Light-rail ridership also hit a record with 117,063 rides taken on the Blue and Green lines, which beat the old mark of 100,909 set last year.
“This strong ridership is another indicator that when Minnesotans have access to a robust transit system, they use it,” Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said in the Metro Transit news release. Smith and Gov. Mark Dayton have been pushing the Legislature to approve funding for the controversial $1.9 billion Southwest Light Rail project that would connect downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie.
A majority of the 369,626 rides taken on Sept. 1 were on regular-route or express buses, the agency said.
“Facing one of the busiest days in our history, we delivered safe, effective service that allowed residents to focus on the festivities instead of the frustrations that come with traffic,” General Manager Brian Lamb said.
A record-setting year at the State Fair contributed to record transit ridership. During the fair’s 12-day run, just over 632,500 rides were provided to and from the fairgrounds, surpassing last year’s record ridership by nearly 10 percent. The highest single-day State Fair ridership was Sept. 3, when Metro Transit provided 73,667 rides, the agency said.
The majority of State Fair rides (565,396) were taken on express buses operating from 13 Park & Rides throughout the metro area. The busiest lot was just east of the Mall of America in Bloomington. The Northstar Fridley Station saw the biggest ridership increase, the agency said.
Ridership on the new A-line, a rapid bus service between Rosedale Center and the 46th Street Station, was 6,100. The Blue Line had its busiest day ever with 58,955 rides, eclipsing the old record of 55,693 rides set on Sept. 2, 2010, also a Thursday when Twins and Vikings had home games on the same night.