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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Rail boosts transit ridership in Houston, Twin Cities


The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County in Houston (METRO) posted a 1.2 percent ridership increase in fiscal-year 2014, with the biggest gain logged along the METRORail's Red Line.

METRO recorded 81 million boardings, surpassing the 80 million mark for a second consecutive fiscal year. Along the Red Line, regular and new rail riders — coupled with more rail cars on the system offering more trips — drove a 12.1 percent ridership increase in FY2014 compared with FY2013, METRO officials said in a press release.

Last month, 1.16 million boardings were recorded along the 13-mile stretch of rail — nearly 257,000 more boardings compared with September 2013, when the Red Line was 7.5 miles long. The North Line extension, which opened in December 2013, has exceeded projections and contributed to the Red Line's ridership growth, METRO officials said.

"The community is embracing rail and the value it brings — convenience and connectivity. We have every reason to believe the East End Line and Southeast Line will share this success," said METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia.

The East End (Green) and Southeast (Purple) lines are slated to open in April 2015.

Meanwhile, Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul recorded more than 1 million rides on the Metro Green Line in September, the highest monthly ridership since service began on the line in June, Metro officials announced yesterday.

The 1,063,512 rides taken on the line brings year-to-year ridership to 3,477,945. Average weekday ridership in September was 37,178 — 35 percent higher than the ridership projection for 2015, Metro officials said.

"The excitement surrounding the Green Line has obviously lasted well beyond opening weekend and will continue to build as the corridor develops in the years ahead," said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.

Ridership has been strong in both downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as the University Avenue corridor. Stations that serve the University of Minnesota area have been especially active since the beginning of the fall semester.

Special events also have helped boost Green Line ridership. About 12,700 fans took the Green Line to attend the Minnesota Vikings' two home games at TCF Bank Stadium in September.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/16/2014