2020 Regional Transit Ridership

Regional transit ridership shaped by global pandemic

COVID-19 has significantly impacted transit ridership and service delivery. Ridership has fallen on all transit services — by as much as 60% on local bus routes, 70% on light rail, and 95% on express bus routes and Northstar commuter rail.

Chart comparing monthly 2019 ridership to monthly 2020 ridership. Once the stay-at-home order went into effect in March 2020, ridership on all forms of transit dropped dramatically.

End of year measures

Overall, transit ridership in the Twin Cities dipped to 40.9 million, down 55 percent from the year before.

In the first months of 2020, transit ridership on services operated by the Met Council exceeded 2019 ridership with nearly 7 million rides a month. Monthly ridership began to drop in March and has held relatively steady at around 2 million since April.

  • The METRO C Line and A Line were among the strongest routes, with the bus rapid transit trips down only 40% on average.
  • Express ridership and Northstar Commuter Rail took the greatest hit across the year, down 80% and 76% respectively.

Local routes and light rail continue to carry 90% of system ridership, which matches the ridership split in previous years.

  • Local route ridership for 2020 was 22 million, down 48% from 2019
  • Light rail on average came in at 59% lower than 2019 with 10.3 million rides

Core local routes like the 5, 18, and 21 remain the workhorses of the transit system.

On-demand service

When the stay-at-home orders went into place, traditional rides on Metro Mobility and Transit Link quickly dropped. Those trips were replaced with grocery and food shelf delivery and essential health care worker trips.
  • Metro Mobility, the Met Council’s shared ride public transportation service for certified riders who are unable to use regular fixed-route buses due to a disability or health condition, experienced a 40% ridership drop in 2020 to 1.5 million.
  • Transit Link, the dial-a-ride small bus service where regular-route transit service is not available, saw ridership drop 52% to about 114,000.

Metro Mobility provided 174,828 essential health care worker rides, and 22,476 food delivery trips. Transit Link food delivery trips came in at 17,051.

Other regional transit providers

Total: 2,484,331 (down 73%)

Individual providers

  • Maple Grove Transit: 212,678 (down 74%)
  • Minnesota Valley Transit Authority: 793,510 (down 69%)
  • Plymouth Metro Link: 147,835 (down 72%)
  • Southwest Transit: 249,678 (down 77%)