The Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press
reprint the same Metro Transit press release publish similar stories about Metro Transit.
The Strib's version:
For the year's first three months, the total of 19.5 million rides represents a 2 percent increase over the same period last year, the transit operator said.
Northstar Commuter Rail's rush-hour service between Minneapolis and Big Lake showed the highest year-over-year gain at 6 percent. Northstar customers chose the rail service more than 146,000 times in the first quarter of 2011.
For all of 2010, Northstar's 710,400 rides fell 21 percent below expectations. Transit officials attributed that to high unemployment and a resulting reduction in trips downtown.
"We're off to a very encouraging start in 2011," said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. "Rising gas prices have certainly played a role in encouraging new customers to give transit a try."
Comparing the first quarter of 2010 with the same period this year:
Express bus ridership was up 3.5 percent, urban local service rose 2.3 percent and suburban local service increased 1.5 percent.
Ridership on the Hiawatha light-rail line was down 1.8 percent from the first quarter of last year but trended upward in February and March.
Comment: Northstar may have shown the highest percentage gain, but in sheer magnitude, its gain is dwarfed by the loss in riders on Hiawatha. 146,000/90 is 1622 rides per day, or assuming all rides are round trip, 811 persons per day. If that is up 6 percent, that means it is up by a whopping 50 persons per day. On the other hand, Hiawatha was down from 2.2 to 2.1 million rides, or 100,000 rides, or 1111 rides per day (or 555 persons per day, assuming round trip). In other words the loss of riders on Hiawatha was 10 times the gain on Northstar. The fare is not ten times higher on Northstar, so net revenue from rail operations should have dropped.
It is good to see bus patronage up, though not surprising given the large increase in the price of fuel.