- Associated Press - Sunday, March 23, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Users of public transportation in the Twin Cities metro area logged more than 94 million rides last year, a jump of 6 million rides since 2007.

The steep increase is due in part to high gas prices, a recovering economy and more options for service, the Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/1dnwhuR ) Sunday.

Numbers released earlier this month show that last year, the suburban Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, which launched the state’s first Bus Rapid Transit line out of Dakota County, set a record of more than 2.7 million rides.

Maple Grove’s transit service offered 836,443 rides last year - also a record.

Metro Transit didn’t hit a record but provided 5 million more rides than it did four years earlier.

Transit advocates say they expect millennials and senior citizens to continue pushing demand for public transit for years to come.

“Millennials are texting and on Wi-Fi with their mobile devices and finding that a host of new smartphone applications is demystifying the rider experience by telling them exactly when the bus is coming,” said Virginia Miller, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based American Public Transportation Association. “And growing numbers of seniors, the older they get, the less they feel like driving at all, or driving at night, or fighting rising congestion.”

Gas prices have also been a big motivator. Generally speaking, use of public transportation jumped in 2008, when gas prices first topped $4 a gallon. Ridership dropped when the recession hit and the size of the workforce decreased.

But Miller said when gas prices dropped, ridership didn’t go down as much.

“People needed a catalyst to try it, and once they did, they saw the benefits, like sleeping or reading and not stressing over traffic,” she said. “We found over and over that when gas spiked and then fell back, many people stayed on public transportation.”


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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