Metro Transit’s total ridership in 2016 declined by four percent relative to the previous year, reports the Star Tribune.
The transit agency provided roughly 82.6 million rides across its bus routes and the green and blue light rail lines. An average of 266,916 rides were provided by Metro Transit each weekday in 2016. This was a loss of roughly 3.4 million rides compared to the 2015 numbers.
This decline occurred even with the newly opened A-Line rapid bus providing 830,000 rides in its first six months of operation. The line connects the Rosedale Shopping Center with the 46th Street Blue Line station in Minneapolis.
The Blue Line connecting Target Field in downtown Minneapolis with the Mall of America in Bloomington saw ridership decreased by 2.8 percent. This is a loss of about 300,000 rides compared to 2015. A total of about 10.3 million rides were taken on the Blue Line in 2016.
The Green Line however saw a 2.5 percent increase in ridership, hitting 12.7 million rides linking downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The line first opened in 2014, and had an average ridership of 39,386 rides per weekday.
“Our ridership has grown in nine of the last 11 years, a period of sustained growth we haven’t seen in this region for nearly a generation,” Brian Lamb, Metro Transit’s general manager, said in a statement.
Transit officials are blaming lower gas prices and the closure of Nicollet Mall for renovation as the primary causes of decreased ridership. Their research indicates that a one dollar drop in gas prices equates to a loss of about 300,000 rides monthly. The 2015 highest average price for gas in Minnesota was $2.76 in July 2015, while 2016’s high was about 50 cents lower according to Gas Buddy.
The agency also estimates that the work on Nicollet Mall meant the loss of up to 114,000 rides each month. The renovation is expected to be mostly completed by the end of 2017.