Second Chart of the Day: Central Corridor Ridership Pre- and Post-Green Line


Another chart today.  This post could also be titled “Green Line: Wow?!”.  MPR says that ridership on the Green Line is up significantly in its second week of operations, beating projections.  David Levinson asks a good question: how does Green Line ridership compare pre- and post-rail operations?

Well, Metro Transit now posts average daily weekday and weekend boardings by stop for all Metro Transit lines plus some suburban routes, so we can get close to answering this question (thank you Metro Transit, data is good).  Current data is an average over many days from fall 2013.  If you add up all the boardings on the 16 and 50 on weekdays, you get 21,570 boardings.  This means the Green Line is seeing something like a 50% increase in boardings over the bus service that was replaced (and the 16 isn’t totally gone).  Can this ridership be sustained?  Time will tell.

Why is ridership up? Speculation and consultation with Metro Transit staff suggest the following may be contributing factors:

  • More connecting bus service. Many routes were re-jiggered to connect to the Green Line.  According to the 2010 On-Board survey done by Metro Transit, 30% of riders surveyed came to the Blue Line from a bus.
  • Route 94 service has been changed/reduced.
  • Opening day/week/month excitement and novelty. writers may account for a large portion of this new ridership.
  • Intra-downtown Minneapolis east-west circulation. Tons of trains now run through downtown, and this may have drawn former walkers, cyclists and bus riders.
  • The Green Line is highly visible, frequent, high quality and serves a corridor with a lot of destinations. People like riding that kind of transit. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

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14 Responses to Second Chart of the Day: Central Corridor Ridership Pre- and Post-Green Line

  1. Ben Ross July 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    More people will ride a train than a bus with the same route, speed, and frequency due to its higher social status.

    Surely a hypothesis worthy of consideration.

    • Nathanael July 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

      Trains are frankly nicer to ride. 30% of the population gets motion sick. A large portion of that population, including me, gets motion sick in buses, but does not get motion sick in trains. (It’s the tracks.)

      I would consider the motion sickness hypothesis seriously. I think this accounts for a lot of the “higher social status” of trains.

  2. brad July 3, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    do you know how 94 ridership has changed pre/post green line?

  3. Andy July 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    It would be nice to see the data from Metro Transit for the rail ridership. Any idea why they are only reporting on “weekday” ridership? According to Metro Transit data (thanks for the link), last fall on route 16 there were 15,845 average daily weekday rides and 19,932 average daily weekend rides.

    • Mike Hicks July 3, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      Average weekday ridership is the standard measure used for transit systems in the U.S. Weekend ridership is sometimes reported, but not very often. I’m surprised that you’re showing a higher number on weekends — are you sure that’s the average between Saturday and Sunday and not adding the two together?

      • Andy July 7, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

        D’oh! You’re right. I was adding up Sat and Sun. Saturday had 11,651 and Sunday had 8281.

    • Katie July 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Also, the 50 does not operate on weekends.

  4. Mike Hicks July 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    I’ve mostly been using year 2010 ridership figures as a basis for comparison (from this report), since that’s the last year before Central Corridor construction began and caused a big mess along University Avenue. Still, the weekday ridership numbers aren’t hugely different:

    16 — 16,880
    50 — 6,886
    94 — 4,213

    That’s 23,766 for 16+50 and 27,979 for all three. I couldn’t really say how the 16 and 94 are doing now.

    • Nathanael July 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      So, with 32368 this week, that’s a 15% increase over 2010 numbers.

      Nice. Assuming Metro budgeted based on projected ridership, that’s also enough to boost Metro’s budget by a bit more than $2 million a year, which should come in handy.

      Interestingly, Metro’s projected Green Line weekday for 2015 was only 27,500, which is actually less than the 2010 ridership for the #16+#50+#94. This says to me that the projections were unreasonably low to start with.

      Although, like you, I don’t know how the #16 and #94 are doing. I’d expect the #16 to be pretty nearly empty — it had to be kept just to reassure the nervous, and will presumably be deleted in the next round of systemwide route revisions. The #94 is another matter, though — I’d expect people to still be taking it.

  5. David Kaplan July 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    I think for this to be accurate – you need to be able to factor in ridership on the 144 and 94B. Both were eliminated as part of Green Line starting. So it is more then just the 16 and 50. But still good numbers.

    • Mike Hicks July 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      The 144 didn’t account for all that many rides — 423 daily in 2010. Hopefully the improved frequency of the 84 will help keep those passengers, and then there’s the A Line which is supposed to start service late next year.

  6. al victorino July 3, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    The Green line is #16lite it is slow and many to many stop s to attract new riders.Last it took 40mins from DTE station to 10th St station plus 10mins late Today I let the 16 go by only to wait another 15 mins for the greenline whe the 16 could ave get me there faster.

    • Matty Lang
      Matty Lang July 7, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

      Did you look at the chart embedded at the top of this post? This must be trolling, right?

  7. Scott Shaffer
    Scott Shaffer July 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    “The Green Line is highly visible, frequent, high quality and serves a corridor with a lot of destinations.”

    Yeah! And that’s why it’s a fantastic thing that the Green Line doesn’t zip down the middle of a freeway, like some wish it would.

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