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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metro Transit ridership tops 81 million in 2012

Metro Transit ridership increased 0.2 percent — topping 81 million — last year.

The gain represents the third consecutive year of ridership growth, said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb in a prepared statement.

Riders boarded trains and buses 81,053,506 times in 2012, an increase of 165,044 rides compared with 2011.

On the Hiawatha light-rail line, ridership reached 10.5 million, the highest recorded since the line's 2004 opening. Average weekday ridership on the line exceeded projections for the year 2020 by nearly 20 percent, Lamb said.

However, overall ridership on the Northstar commuter-rail line decreased 0.45 percent due to a 13 percent reduction in the number of riders traveling to special events in downtown Minneapolis.

That decline was offset partially by increases in the core market of weekday commuters, due in part to a fare reduction implemented in August, according to the agency. For the year, weekday commuter ridership rose 4 percent.

"We surveyed potential customers early in the year and they told us they'd use Northstar more often if fares were modestly reduced," Lamb said. "The price adjustment has drawn new customers who continue to us Northstar day after day."

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More News from 1/16/2013