June 26--Week No. 1 was a good one for the Green Line.
Metro Transit's newest light-rail line wasn't supposed to hit more than 27,000 weekday riders until its second year. But during its first week of operation earlier this month, it did just that.
Customers hopped aboard Green Line trains more than 139,000 times during the light-rail system's first five workdays -- an average daily ridership of 27,805.
Given that officials are projecting that the Green Line's average daily ridership to be 27,500 in 2015, transit folks were more than pleased with the opening-week numbers. The line runs primarily along University Avenue, linking downtown St. Paul with downtown Minneapolis.
"We are very encouraged to see initial ridership running at 2015 projections during these early summer days," said Brian Lamb, Metro Transit's general manager. "We'll have a clearer sense of everyday use when the University of Minnesota and other schools along the light-rail line resume classes in the fall."
By comparison, 93,000 people hopped on the Blue Line, which runs from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America, during its first week of operation a decade ago. Then called the Hiawatha Line, the Blue Line had an average weekday ridership of 18,600 its first week. In its first full year, the Blue Line averaged 23,800 weekday riders.
Transit officials have projected Green Line ridership to climb to more than 40,000 riders per weekday by 2030.
The busiest stations during the Green Line's inaugural week were: Nicollet Mall, with 9 percent of all riders boarding there; East Bank with 9 percent; Snelling Avenue with 7 percent, and Central with 7 percent.
Ridership numbers do not include the more than 107,000 rides taken during the Green Line's opening weekend, when passengers rode the rails for free.
Meanwhile, bus ridership in the area dropped an average of about 15,000 rides per weekday during the Green Line's first week of operation. Some of that was due to the discontinuation of Route 50 and reduced offerings on Routes 16 and 94 -- considered duplicative routes in the Central Corridor, Metro Transit officials said.
James Walsh -- 651-925-5041
Copyright 2014 - Star Tribune (Minneapolis)