Watch CBS News

Metro Transit ridership grows in 2023, but officials say they need help to continue the trend

Metro transit is reporting that rideshare was up in 2023
Metro transit is reporting that rideshare was up in 2023 02:31

MINNEAPOLIS — Metro Transit officials are looking to expand routes and bring on new employees, after an increase in ridership over the past year.

In 2023, the transportation operator provided nearly 45 million rides, as ridership grew 16% from 2022, according to the Metropolitan Council.

The home opener for Minnesota United means big numbers of riders, looking for a convenient trip to Allianz Field.

Loons fan Peter Rodeheffer likes not having to find, and pay, for parking.

"I actually live just a couple stops down, so it's mostly just really convenient for me. I don't have to worry about paying for parking because it's usually more expensive," said Loons fan Peter Rodeheffer.

"In general, when we have special events, sporting events, we do see people use transit because it's a convenient option to get there," said Lesley Kandaras, General Manager for Metro Transit.

Kandaras was out riding the rail Saturday, ahead of the Loons opener.

The 16% jump in riders last year was due to the addition of more staff, she said.

"In 2023, we were able to hire additional operators, which allowed us to bring additional service back, so we know that people can't take transit if we're not providing a trip that's convenient for them," said Kandaras.

Last year, the Metropolitan Council said Metro Transit provided nearly 45 million rides, with close to 15 million of those on light rail.

In that year, more than 136,000 people took Metro Transit each week, on average, with Metro Transit bus service at 90% of what it was pre-pandemic. 

"As we continue to increase service options, we anticipate that will continue to help us grow ridership," said Kandaras.

But to continue growing in 2024, Kandaras says they need to hire more people.

"We need people to operate our vehicles, to maintain our system, to keep things clean and safe, so we're looking for a variety of people," said Kandaras.

This all comes as Metro Transit is trying to make a safer, more enjoyable experience for riders.

Last month, Metro Transit announced the addition of two dozen Trip Agents, to boost safety and have more people inspecting fares and educating riders.

The agents started field training last week, so people on light rail should start spotting them soon, Kandaras said.

Metro Transit is kicking off its "Take Pride in Your Ride" campaign, with a first initiative of reducing the number of people who smoke on trains.

"Just hopefully providing a better customer experience for everyone," she said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.