Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) posted its highest first quarter ridership ever for the period ending March 31, 2011, with 631,132 rides. This is an increase of 6.4 percent from the same period in 2010 and a 1.2 percent increase from the same period during MVTA's record ridership year of 2008.
Express ridership to downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul both grew during the first quarter, indicating a recovery of jobs in the core cities. Regular route weekday local ridership also experienced significant growth during the first quarter of 2011 — up 11.2 percent over the same period in 2010.
"We are excited to see our ridership rebounding," said MVTA Board Chair and Dakota County Commissioner Will Branning. "It's good news to everyone if employment opportunities are picking up."
MVTA Executive Director Beverley Miller also noted that increased gas prices are contributing to the ridership growth. "We know that when gas reaches $3.50-$4 per gallon, people start to look at alternatives to driving alone to get to work, and they are receptive to trying transit. Once we get them on the bus, folks see how convenient it is and many become regular riders." she added. "The MVTA also looks optimistic about future ridership, as the bus rapid transit station-to-station service on Cedar Avenue inches ever closer to its opening in 2012."