Ridership on Metro Transit plunged in 2020, owing to COVID

Janet Moore, Star Tribune
·1 min read

Ridership on Metro Transit's buses and trains last year plunged by more than half, as many passengers avoided public transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All told, some 38.4 million people took public transit in the Twin Cities in 2020, compared with 82.5 million in 2019 — a decline of 53%, according to figures released Monday by the Metropolitan Council.

The biggest losses came on the Northstar commuter rail line, which links downtown Minneapolis with Big Lake. Ridership on Northstar dropped by 80% to 152,455, while ridership on express and commuter buses was down 76%.

Bus-rapid transit, including the A and C lines, fared better than other types of transportation within the Metro Transit system. Ridership declined on those lines by 24% last year, serving about 2.4 million passengers.

The rapid buses, which feature expanded stations and faster service, are a big part of the transit agency's future plans, with more routes in the works.

Local bus service was down 48%, but with about 22 million passengers it remained the workhorse of the Twin Cities' transit system. Light-rail ridership on the Blue and Green lines was down by 59%, to 10.3 million passengers.

Metro Transit limited ridership on buses and trains to essential trips during the pandemic, such as forays to the grocery store, work and medical appointments.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752