Three New Programs to Increase Transit Ridership in the Twin Cities

With peak hour commuter travel not expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, Metro Transit is getting creative in its efforts to attract new riders.

2 minute read

October 1, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Metro Transit Green Line

Joe Ferrer / Shutterstock

With commute patterns shifting drastically due to the rise in remote work over the last year and a half, public transit agencies across the country must reorganize their services to serve new needs. In the Twin Cities, the need to shift away from focusing on peak-hour service has provided Metro Transit with an opportunity to adjust their services to attract new riders. Bill Lindeke reports on the three new programs that the agency hopes will revive their ridership and encourage more people to use transit for different purposes.

During September and October, Metro Transit has lowered fares to $1 for everyone. The agency hopes this temporary program will "make an impression, to keep these riders going forward" and showcase the effectiveness and safety of the transit system. Metro is also, "for the first time, granting transit passes to specific apartment buildings," granting passes to 20 new multi-family buildings with the goal of reducing the need for private cars. This comes as the Twin Cities have both eliminated minimum parking requirements

Lastly, Metro buses are now busing St. Paul public school students from four local high schools. "The new busing program is a short-term, emergency stop-gap triggered by a shortage of bus drivers at the district. Forced into triage mode, it marks a big change for thousands of city students." According to Jackie Turner, Chief Operations Officer for the school district, "a side benefit is that the students will get passes that work every day and on weekends (though they are time-limited to respect curfew ordinances). A new generation of students will be used to the liberty that a transit pass provides."

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