Quarterly Transit Report – March 2016

The March service change

The big service improvement is the doubling of the Route 11 weekday and Saturday frequency from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes. Route 11 runs on 2nd Street NE in northeast Minneapolis and 4th Avenue S in south Minneapolis. The increased frequency extends from 29th & Grand St. NE to 46th & Nicollet in south Minneapolis.

Other service increases:

Saturday and Sunday frequency on Route 721 Brooklyn Center-Brooklyn Park via Bass Lake Road doubles from hourly to every 30 minutes.

Route 19 Penn Avenue N. Sunday frequency improves from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes from 9AM to 2:30 PM.

Late night service has been extended on Route 3 leaving downtown St. Paul from midnight to 1 AM, and on Route 4 Bryant from 1AM to 2AM Monday-Saturday .

Minneapolis-Lakeville commuter express Route 467 gets a pair of midday round trips, offering first time flexibility for anyone working a half day.

On Feb. 22, Minnesota Valley Transit started new commuter express Route 484R from Rosemount to St. Paul, with two daily round trips.

There was one notable service decrease. Weekday evening frequency was trimmed from 30 minutes to hourly on the extension of Route 67 through Prospect Park to the Franklin Avenue Blue Line station. This route segment, originally stand-alone Route 8, has always been lightly patronized. It was beefed up and merged end-to-end with Route 67 to feed the Green Line, but has not prospered. Future cuts wouldn’t surprise me.

Inside the Green Line ridership numbers
We’re still learning the Green Line’s ridership patterns. The weekday average of over 37,000 masks some interesting variabilities. If one looks back over the last three 6-month periods, the recent growth is obvious.

Aug. 25, 2014-Feb.22, 2015
Total riders 5,817,720
16 weekdays over 40,000

Feb. 23, 2015-Aug. 22, 2015
Total riders 5,943,743
15 weekdays over 40,000, 1 weekday over 50,000

Aug. 23, 2015-Feb. 20, 2016
Total riders 6,845,344
69 weekdays over 40,000, 3 weekdays over 50,000

The highest single ridership day was Thursday Sept. 2, 2015, when multiple sporting events pushed ridership to 63,964.

During the last year Saturdays averaged just under 30,000, and the highest came in at 53,337.

Sundays averaged 24,000, with a high of 48,731 on a Vikings Sunday.

Special events, mostly the Twins, Vikings and Gophers, pushed the ridership to individual day highs. Overall, since the Green Line opened, event riders have averaged slightly under 6 percent of the total. This may well be a temporary high, driven by transfers from the Blue Line to reach the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. When the Vikes move to their new home, those Green Line transfers will disappear.

The University of Minnesota has a big impact. The start of the Winter quarter at the end of the holiday break seems to be the clearest indicator. Comparing the two weeks yields these  average weekday numbers:

2015          2016
29,840      31,273    Last week of quarter break
37,814       40,704   First week of winter quarter

7974            9431     Difference

Apart from the impact of the U being open or closed, the ridership fluctuates seasonally. The average monthly boardings during 2015 were 1,032,000. However, they ranged from about 843,000 in January and February to a high of 1,274,000 on October. From the low point at New Years, the trend line was up throughout the Spring and Summer, peaking during the start of football season, then dropping off somewhat in November and December. January 2016 dipped again, but was 8 percent higher than January 2015.

 

Aaron Isaacs

About Aaron Isaacs

Aaron retired in 2006 after 33 years as a planner and manager for Metro Transit, where he worked in route and schedule planning, operations, maintenance, transit facilities, light rail and traffic advantages for buses. He created the bus-only shoulder and developed 270 miles of them, a national model. He worked on the Met Council's first TOD handbook. He's an historian of transit, as a 40+ year volunteer with the Minnesota Streetcar Museum. He's co-author of Twin Cities by Trolley, The Streetcar Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and author of Twin Ports by Trolley on Duluth-Superior.

6 thoughts on “Quarterly Transit Report – March 2016

  1. Matt

    Great summary and analysis. One nitpick though- the U is on a semester schedule and the period you’re describing is the spring semester. (although you might be talking about quarters per year; i’m not sure)

  2. GlowBoy

    Nice to see the increase in frequency on Route 11. I like to use that bus to go to the Pierre Bottineau library. Of course, living down in Diamond Lake I wish the 11 went further south than 46th, but having to transfer is the price I pay for living in a low density area.

  3. Aaron IsaacsAaron Isaacs Post author

    Route 87 is run by a private contractor for the Met Council, not directly operated by Metro Transit, so I don’t have ridership data for it. As part of the Green Line implementation, Route 87 service increased 50%, from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes. This also happened on several Metro Transit routes. Ridership on all of them has increased, but less than the 50% service increase. For that reason, ridership per bus is less, even though more passengers are using the line. I suspect that’s what you’re seeing on Route 87.

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