Fare cuts, new station boost Northstar ridership

Customers boarded Metro Transit buses and trains more than 81 million times in 2012 – an increase of 165,044 rides (0.2 percent) over 2011.

“For only the second time in a generation, Metro Transit ridership has exceeded 81 million,” said General Manager Brian Lamb. “This represents the third straight year of ridership growth.”

This also marks the sixth consecutive year in which ridership has topped 76 million – a mark not previously achieved since 1983. Customers boarded Metro Transit buses and trains 81,053,506 times in 2012, which helped to push the agency’s 40-year lifetime ridership past the three billion mark in November.

Overall annual ridership on Northstar Commuter Rail declined 0.45 percent from 703,427 in 2011 to $700,276 last year.

This was due to a 13 percent reduction in the number of riders traveling to special events downtown, but these reductions were offset partially by increases in the core market of weekday commuters.

For the year, weekday commuter ridership was up 4 percent.

A fare reduction implemented in August yielded progressively larger monthly increases in weekday riders over mid-year figures – from a 6 percent increase in September to nearly a 20 percent increase in December.

Weekday ridership was also boosted by higher-than-projected rides from Ramsey Station which opened in November.

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

The line proved its reliability again in 2012 with near-perfect on-time performance of 97 percent, according to Lamb.

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