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Northstar rail boosts 2013 Metro Transit ridership

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Ridership on the north metro's Northstar commuter rail is up more than 15 percent, creating a jump in Metro Transit's overall numbers.

According to a news release, customers have boarded buses and trains nearly 40 million times through the first half of 2013, up 0.8 percent compared to the same time period in 2012.

Transit officials say high gas prices and traffic are forcing more people to choose public transit. Earlier this year, Minnesota saw some of the most expensive gas prices in the country while two refineries were shut down for maintenance.

Also, a $1 fare drop on the 40-mile Northstar line between downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake made permanent on May 1 was intended to attract more customers.

Metro Transit also noted increases in express and suburban bus ridership. However, ridership on the Hiawatha Line, recently rebranded as the Blue Line, is down about 3 percent, but is still trending 30 percent ahead of projections for the year 2020.

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