Metro Transit was hoping for a 3 percent increase in bus ridership to the State Fair in 2014. It got far more than that with a 19 percent increase over 2013. That translated into a record-breaking year for the agency as more than 531,653 rides were taken on express buses from metro area park and ride lots and on regular routes serving the fairgrounds.
Not to be out done, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority also had a record year, providing 57,320 rides from transit stations in Burnsville, Eagan and Shakopee. That beat the old record set in 2011 by 33 percent, said Robin Selvig, a transit agency spokeswoman.
Both agencies cited record-breaking attendance at the State Fair (1.824 million) and the opening of the new transit station among reasons for the strong bus ridership.
"Before food on a stick becomes a distant memory, Metro Transit has great news," General Manager Brian Lamb told the Met Council last week. He said Metro Transit set a single daily record of 79,188 rides on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, a day on which the State Fair also set a daily attendance mark of 252,092. He also said ridership on Route 84 on Snelling Avenue was up 88 percent during the fair's 12-day run. Many of those riders likely connected to the local bus from the Green Line, he said.
Metro Transit was hoping to provide 450,000 rides in 2014. It beat last year's mark by 87,400.
Minnesota Valley Transit Authority saw more riders than it had seen in three years. It provided more than 42,000 rides from the Burnsville Transit Station, which operated all 12 days during the fair. New weekend service from the Marschall Road Transit Station in Shakopee was added this year and provided 3,488 rides. Another 11,656 rides were taken from the Eagan Transit Station.
“It was exciting to see strong State Fair ridership after some less-than-ideal weather the opening weekend,” according to Clint Hooppaw, MVTA Chair and Apple Valley City Council member. “The new Transit Station on the Fairgrounds, adjacent to the new West End Market also provided great access to the Fair for our riders,” he said