Metro Transit ridership up slightly in 2013

People boarded Metro Transit buses and trains 81.4 million times in 2013 — a slight increase over ridership levels in 2012.

Metro Transit had an increase of 300,000 rides last year compared to 2012, which represents a 0.4 percent increase.

The Northstar Commuter Rail line, which links downtown Minneapolis with Big Lake, was a bright spot for Metro Transit. Ridership increased 12 percent.

“Only twice in 32 years has Metro Transit ridership reached this level,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb in a statement released today. “We thank our customers — both long-time and new — for this fourth consecutive year of growth. In 2013, we provided five million more rides than just four years ago.”

Ridership on the Blue Line (Hiawatha) dropped 3.2 percent to 10.2 million rides. Metro Transit officials attribute the drop in ridership to service interruptions for construction and maintenance projects.

“We know that many weekends of construction and maintenance on the METRO system wore on our customers last year,” Lamb said. “This year, we intend to repay the patience with the results — improved reliability and comfort on the Blue Line and the opening of the METRO Green Line.”

Metropolitan Council officials announced yesterday that the Green Line will open June 14. It will link downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul.