Metro Transit ridership up in 2010

Ridership on Metro Transit totaled 78 million in 2010, a 2.3 percent increase from 2009.

Last year’ passenger total was the fourth time in 30 years that ridership topped 78 million, according to Metro Transit.

The biggest increases came from the Hiawatha light-rail trains and express buses.

A total of 10.5 million passengers boarded Hiwatha trains, up 6 percent from 2009 and the most in the line’s six-year history.

Express bus ridership increased by 2.5 percent, to 9.2 million.

Almost 66 million passengers rode on core urban routes in 2010, an increase of less than one percent.

The biggest disappointment came from the new Northstar Commuter rail line. While 710,000 customers used the line in it’s first full year, ridership was 21 percent below expectations.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said in a press release that Northstar ridership was up 2.5 percent in December 2010 compared to December 2009. He attributed a poor first year to a slow economy with less workers using the trains to get to jobs in Downtown Minneapolis.