Ridership rebounded by 17% in 2022, Met Council says

After dealing with a significant drop in ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro Transit saw a nice rebound last year.

According to the Metropolitan Council, overall ridership on Metro Transit, Metro Mobility, Transit Link and contracted routes increased by 17% in 2022. That equates to more than 42 million rides last year compared to just shy of 36 million in 2021.

“We have some good news with where we sit with ridership,” John Harper, the manager of contracted transit services for the Met Council, said. “Every number is a positive number, an increase in ridership.”

The Met Council says the numbers offer some hope for additional growth in 2023 after a tough few years during the pandemic.

When COVID-19 hit, ridership plummeted as offices switched to virtual work and schools moved online. Last spring, Metro Transit said its ridership was only at around 52% of what it was before the pandemic but those numbers continue to rise steadily.

RELATED: Metro Transit ridership starting to rebound after significant drop during pandemic

When including other transit providers — such as Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, SouthWest Transit, Maple Grove Transit, Plymouth Metrolink and the University of Minnesota — the Met Council says more than 45 million rides were provided last year, which is a 21% increase from 2021. Metro Mobility ridership also improved by 7% and is at over 80% of its pre-pandemic levels while bus rapid transit (BRT) routes now account for around 10% of regional rides.

While the rebounding ridership numbers are good news, the Met Council notes that it’s still adjusting to how the pandemic changed the way people work, shop, socialize and travel. However, with nearly two full years of data to study, the Met Council is adjusting to better allocate its resources and improve its service.

“We are advancing a vision that’s greater than simply returning to where we were before the pandemic,” Lesley Kandaras, the interim general manager for Metro Transit, said. “This is about moving forward to understand and meet the evolving needs of our customers and the communities we serve.”

As it continues that work, Metro Transit is also working to add new drivers.

RELATED: Metro Transit gets creative in bid to attract new drivers

After starting the year around 200 operators short of its budgeted total, the agency has started increasing wages and hosting hiring events. Those interested can find more information online.

The Met Council says its other objectives for 2023 include finding ways to improve safety and expanding partnerships that connect riders to services.