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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Twin Cities’ Metro Transit, Cleveland’s RTA posted ridership gains in 2011


The Twin Cities’ Metro Transit system served nearly 81 million riders in 2011, a 3.5 percent year-over-year increase.

With total ridership of 80.9 million in 2011, the year rivaled 2008’s historic 81.8 million rides, Metro Transit officials said in a prepared statement. Bus ridership accounted for all of the year-over-year gains, posting a 4.3 percent increase to 69.8 million, they said.

Ridership topped 10.4 million for the second time in the Hiawatha light-rail line’s seven-year history, falling short of last year’s record by 5,000 rides. Although daily commuter ridership continues to increase, the overall ridership decline was attributed to fewer special-event riders.

Among daily commuters, Northstar commuter-rail ridership was up 7 percent in 2011. Overall ridership declined 1 percent, however, primarily due to a freight train derailment near Fridley in mid-July, which halted all rail service on the BNSF Railway Co. track for several days, Metro Transit officials said. As with the Hiawatha light rail line, there also were fewer special event riders in 2010 than in 2011, agency officials said.

Meanwhile, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) carried more than 46 million riders in 2011, up nearly 4 percent compared with 2010, GCRTA officials said in a prepared statement.

December ridership soared 12.5 percent compared with the same month a year earlier. On the Red Line, more than half a million riders used the heavy rail service, making it the highest December Red Line usage since 1988, GCRTA officials said.

“These numbers are phenomenal,” said Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese. “RTA is glad to serve more customers this year in every area of service.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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