Chart of the Day: 2015 LRT Ridership (so far)

It’s 2015 this year, and the Green Line feels like the future to me. Lot’s of people are riding it.

How many? Take a look:

green line ridership

According to the Metro Transit blog, “September’s strong light-rail ridership can partly be attributed to special events. More than 193,000 light-rail rides were taken to home sporting events last month.”

If you ask me, University of Minnesota students being back on campus might also make a big difference.

How do these numbers compare to 2014? They’re up. September and October 2014 had 1.13 million rides on the Green Line.

This year, it’s 1.24 million, which is more.

23 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: 2015 LRT Ridership (so far)

  1. Carlos

    This is very cool. I looked up how many rides the 16, 50, and 94 had their last year, and according to Metro Transit, in September 2013, the combined total was 653,208. The Green Line has just about twice as many riders as the bus routes it replaced. (

  2. Wayne

    Wait, so a line serving built up urban areas that just opened already has better ridership than a line to the suburbs that runs next to a highway and has been open for like a decade?

    It’s almost like land use and transit ridership are linked or something.

    1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

      While you are right, the gap isn’t as big as you’re making it seem. Keep in mind the Green Line took away some trips within downtown Mpls that were formerly served only by the Blue Line. Now those people just catch whichever train comes first.

      Yes, the Blue Line had a 9 year head start, but it does also serve some very important destinations on the southern side (along with some *very* dense urban areas like Cedar-Riverside, Franklin Ave, and Lake St).

    2. Matt Brillhart

      Wayne – Calling the Blue Line “a line to the suburbs” is the absolute pinnacle of why some in urban planning circles roll their eyes when comes up. Please calm down and stop being such an “angry urbanist”. It is beyond unhelpful. If you want to criticize the chosen routes for Southwest and Bottineau, please be my guest. I’m right there with you. But to decry the Blue Line is completely ridiculous. It serves the airport and extends barely over a mile into Bloomington to serve the single largest transfer point in the region (MOA).

      1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        Yes, and “it connects downtown to the airport” was/is a very useful and easily understood message to sell funding it as the first investment in light rail in Minnesota.

        That said, the routing in Bloomington is a little weird, at least until they actually do all the in fill they plan.

      2. Wayne

        My comment was like 80% snark, but the routing along Hiawatha and keeping it as a pseudo-highway isn’t helping ridership on the blue line. Honestly it’s still a good line and will be better than either of the upcoming ‘extensions.’ But snarkers gonna snark.

          1. Wayne

            It’s ‘good’ compared to the upcoming planned lines, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a lot better via improved land uses next to it. Hiawatha needs to be calmed.

  3. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    So at what point do we run into real capacity constraints on the Green Line? Are they already running 3-car trains nearly all day?

    Peak-hour frequency is defined by the shared Green/Blue segment in Downtown Mpls. I wonder if we’ll need a discussion about grade separation, splitting the two lines, or some other idea to allow increased frequency sooner than we thought.

    1. Joe

      Yes, they are running 3-car trains nearly all day. 10 minute headways (thus an hourly frequency of 6) is the likely maximum rate, maybe we could push that to 8 minutes (7.5 trains per hour). Assuming 10% of ridership is in one hour (usually a decent peak-hour approximation) 4,000 riders per hour… how many people can we accept standing? Because it seems to already exceed the seated capacity.

      1. brad

        I often ride the Green Line during rush hour between Downtown East and downtown St Paul, and I’ve rarely seen people standing east of the U of M. If so, it’s usually because it’s a 2-car train or they choose to stand. It’d be interesting to get more granular data about which parts of the route have the most/fewest riders.

    2. Wayne

      I still think they should tunnel under 4th and have it meet up right before the turn into the DTE station. They could build most of the tunnel without interrupting service on 5th until they actually connect it, and then we could still re-use the tracks/stations on 5th for local trolleys. You could probably even figure out a way to still have it connect back to the target field station mess pretty easily and retain that as a transfer point to aforementioned trolleys.

      1. Joey SenkyrJoey Senkyr

        The biggest problem I see with a tunnel under 4th is dealing with the sunken 394 being in the way, but you’d have to figure that out with any route south of Washington. I suppose with 4th you could dive under 394, then use that parking lot to come back up and connect to TFS platform 2, leaving platform 1 for your trolley.

        1. Wayne

          My idea was basically bringing it back to the surface right before 394 and having it cross at an angle to meet back up with target field station. If we could ever get them to give up on the 394 spurs and reconfigure that it could be done better, but even still I think it’s quite workable.

  4. Keith Morris

    I’ve found that in my experience the Blue Line is useful for reaching destinations in MPLS, but has a higher learning curve. It’s amazing how close it is to Lake Nokomis at 46th (is there a Nice Ride or a sign pointing you towards the lake?), Minnehaha Falls, destinations east and west on 38th, spots off of Lake (Peace Coffee, Harriet Brewing, Trylon Cinema, Du Nord’s cocktail lounge, Moon Palace Books, etc) and Franklin and Cedar-Riverside.

    Only thing is, it’s much more convenient with a bike, unless you can time up connections to buses running infrequently and aside from the falls there’s really no wayfinding signage for local destinations: some kiosks near the stations would certainly help. In fact, now that I think about, our much touted Midtown Greenway is nonexistent to those at Lake St Station, despite being right around the corner with a Nice Ride nearby, albeit on the south side of Lake.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      There is a Nice Ride station at the 46th St station, or at least it’s on Nice Ride’s map (think I’ve seen it, but not 100% sure).

      Totally agree that more wayfinding would help.

    2. Kele

      I live in the Highland neighborhood of St. Paul, right next to the river, and when commuting to/from the University of Minnesota, using Green-Blue-Bus (via 46th St Station) can be just as fast as taking Green-84/87 in St. Paul.

  5. David MarkleDavid Markle

    I’ve observed that at most times of the day three car trains are simply not necessary on the Green Line, and also that ridership appears significantly lower in St. Paul than in Minneapolis. But at certain times–happily, usually on weekends–when big games take place at TCF Stadium, three car trains can be completely packed. I suspect that the weekend timing makes it easier to avoid problems on the Blue Line when a few extra trains run on the Green Line.

    Did readers hear the NPR item this morning about the city in China that’s installing streetcars run by onboard stored electric power (in big capacitors) that are very quickly automatically recharged along the lines? These installations are said to be far cheaper to put in than ordinary streetcar iines, let alone LRT lines (including expensive LRT’s used as half-assed streetcars, like the Green Line).

    1. Aaron IsaacsAaron Isaacs

      The 3-car trains are needed between downtown Mpls and the U of M. That’s the maximum load point on the line. Within St. Paul, roughly equal numbers of riders get on and off the train at each stop, so the load stays about the same. The same thing happened on the old Route 16 bus–it would carry 120 people in the course of a 1-way trip, yet never have standees.

      I’ve played around with different schedules that would reallocate capacity so the 3-car trains only ran between Mpls and the U. However, all of them are more costly than the way the Green Line runs now.

      1. Peter Bajurny

        Are there stats on running cost of a single car? Or the difference between a 2 car and a 3 car train? Since you’ve got the driver either way, the only incremental cost would be the electricity to run it and the additional maintenance on the vehicle, right?

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