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The Green Line propelled Metro Transit to its highest ridership in decades

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The opening of the Green Line is helping to move more metro area commuters out of their cars and onto public transport.

Figures from the Metropolitan Council found 97.7 million journeys were taken on metro area buses and trains in 2014 – a rise of 3.5 percent on 2013.

Metro Transit, the area's largest provider, carried passengers on 84.5 million trips last year, its highest number since 1981.

The Metro Transit figures were boosted by the June opening of the Green Line, connecting downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, with more than 6.5 million rides taken by the end of the year.

The $957 million line faced opposition from bus riders unhappy at service cuts and some businesses along the University Avenue corridor, the Pioneer Press reports, but passenger levels along the corridor are now just shy of 10 million, with 3.4 million bus rides taken in addition to light rail users.

More: Blue Line down, bus usage up

Ridership on the Blue Line – linking downtown Minneapolis and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International/the Mall of America – declined to 9.5 million from 10.1 million last year.

Metro Transit buses saw a 3.9 percent increase in ridership with 67.8 million rides taken, while more than 720,000 passengers took trips on the Northstar Commuter line. Also boosted was the University of Minnesota's bus service, up nearly 10 percent, and disability transportation service Metro Mobility, which was up 8.2 percent.

The figures come after the Star Tribune reported suburban transit provider the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) announced a record-breaking year in 2014, with ridership increasing by 3.9 percent.

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