Projected ridership drops 30% for Blue Line LRT Extension
The Federal Transit Administration now requires states to use a new formula when projecting ridership estimates for ongoing transit projects.
In 2017, Metro Transit, using a Regional Travel Demand Model, projected the LRT Blue Line Extension from downtown Minneapolis through Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park to have 26,600 daily riders by 2040. But, when Metro Transit recently used the new FTA formula and ran those numbers again, the projected ridership dipped by 30% to just 18,600 passengers per day.
The projected ridership numbers are important because they will determine where the Blue Line Extension ranks with the FTA compared to other transit projects in major metropolitan areas.
Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) chairs the Transportation Committee. Dibble told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that lower projected ridership for the Blue Line could mean a much tougher path toward securing federal funding.
“It’s going to be very, very important that we have a match from the federal government,” said Dibble. “Then, the conversation becomes, ‘Is this expense worthwhile, or should we look at another robust mode, like bus rapid transit versus light rail transit, which has higher capital costs?”
Dibble said the FTA looks closely at projected ridership numbers because it helps determine which projects get rated higher, with top priority, compared to other transit projects around the nation.
“These are highly, highly competitive dollars because there are metropolitan areas all around the country that are, you know, building transit,” said Dibble.
Metro Transit plans to run the numbers one more time in the coming months and those projections should be available sometime in early or middle 2024.