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Metro Transit ridership plummeted between January and March

The Met Council's quarterly report showed a declining transit ridership, following past trends

Ridership on Metro Transit dropped sharply during the first three months of 2019, mirroring recent trends.

In a first quarter report released Monday, the Met Council revealed local bus ridership (which makes up more than half of its total rides) has decreased from around 11.4 million rides over this time last year to around 10.4 million in 2019, a drop of 9 percent.

It comes amid a wider decline in bus ridership, which has continued to fall since 2013. From 2017 to 2018, ridership went from around 55 million to around 53 million.

The report highlights bad weather days, cheap car travel, and the fare increases introduced in late 2017 as explanations for this decline.

From Jan. 27 to Jane 29, the record-breaking polar vortex, ridership on almost all services plummeted, as it did during several major snowstorms that led to a historic number of school cancelations in the Twin Cities metro.

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While a February report showed ridership on both the Green Line and Blue Line light rail services grew in 2018, those services too have seen a slight drop this quarter.

Light rail ridership in the first quarter, at around 5.7 million in 2018, was around 5.5 million in 2019, a decrease of 4 percent.

Northstar commuter line ridership is also down from 190,607 rides last year to 174,694 this year. The services makes up less than 1 percent of all Metro Transit rides.

The Met Council does note light rail ridership still follows an overall growth trend, and Northstar ridership fell only slightly from a “historic high” in 2017, it states.

While commuter and express bus ridership also fell, the Met Council identified freeway improvements and construction as a potential opportunity, noting the service can mitigate the congestion. 

Here's a look at the full figures from the first quarter.

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