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People took more than 85.8 million rides on public transit last year


More people are taking public transportation to get around the Twin Cities, Metro Transit said in a news release.

People took more than 85.8 million rides on Metro Transit buses and trains last year – that's the highest level since 1981, and an increase of nearly 1.2 million rides (1.4 percent) when compared to 2014, the transit agency says.

“We’ve really turned a corner when it comes to transit in the Twin Cities,” General Manager Brian Lamb said in the release, noting "the Twin Cities is more connected than it's been in a very long time."

Metro Transit says customers using the all-day service on the light rail to travel to work, school and special events, along with the ability to transfer between light rail lines in downtown Minneapolis helped boost ridership in 2015.

Here's a breakdown of the numbers:

The Blue Line saw the most rides last year, with more than 10.6 million – the highest annual ridership since the line, which connects downtown Minneapolis to the airport and Mall of America, opened in 2004.

In its first full year of operation, the Green Line, which connects downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul, saw nearly 12.4 million rides in 2015. Weekday ridership on the line was at 37,400 last year – that's nearing the 2030 forecast of 41,000 weekday rides.

The Northstar commuter line, which connects Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis, saw a slight increase in ridership last year, seeing 722,637 rides.

However, bus ridership declined 8.6 percent to 62.1 million rides.

The decline is a reflection of the "transition from buses to light rail," Metro Transit says, and is also linked to construction, which led to "prolonged detours on multiple routes."

The agency says it will continue to work to build bus ridership in 2016. Such efforts include adding new bus stop signs with more information, adding more waiting shelters, launching a new mobile app and opening the region's first arterial bus rapid transit line on Snelling Avenue, called the A Line.

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