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DTA transported 3.2 million riders in 2008

Published: Expires: 2/14/2009

Duluth Transit Authority ridership for 2008 surpassed the 3 million rider mark for the first time since 2002 when ISD 709 ended its contract with the DTA for transporting students. Total ridership for 2008 increased by 12.8% over 2007 with 3,219,756 passengers carried.

Prior to 2002, approximately 9.65% of the passengers carried were secondary school students that were transported under the terms of a contract with ISD 709. Following the cancellation of the contract by the School Board, the DTA reduced its peak hour fleet from 62 to 45 buses, and personnel from 98 employees to 86.

In 2000, the DTA established a new U-Pass program with UMD, which was later expanded to all area colleges. While transit use is up by all segments of the general population, bus travel by college students participating in the U-Pass program has shown the most consistent gains.

U-Pass ridership for 2008 at UMD, College of St. Scholastica, Lake Superior College and UWS increased by 36% over 2007 with 693,291 rides. U-Pass ridership for September 2008 of nearly 100,000 rides was the highest monthly total since the program began in 2000 with an increase of 72 percent over September 2007.

DTA Bike & Bus ridership for 2008 also surpassed the previous year’s total. In its 14th year of operation, the Bike & Bus service transported 20,107 bicycles during its eight month season – up 25 percent over last year.

STRIDE (Special Transit RIDE) ridership for 2008 also increased by 3% with 24,519 rides.

DTA ridership gains for 2008 parallels the national trend. More Americans today are using public transportation due to volatile gas prices and inflation. Even though fuel prices have subsided since last fall, DTA ridership continues to grow.

"We're very pleased with these numbers" says DTA General Manager Dennis Jensen. "We picked up a lot of new riders during the surge in fuel prices and they are continuing to ride. We are especially pleased with the success of the U-Pass program and all the benefits that this has brought to the colleges and to the community."

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