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DTA ridership @ UMD tops 3 million mark (UMD student Chelsea Voltin is the 3 millionth U-PASS rider

Published: Expires: 4/13/2009

The DTA’s U-PASS Program at UMD, which began in September of 2000, surpassed the 3 million rider milestone on Friday, March 27, when UMD senior Chelsea Voltin boarded the #11 - East 8th Street / UMD bus on campus at 1:20 p.m.

DTA's Three Millionth Rider Chelsea Voltin

Chelsea was congratulated by DTA and UMD staff and awarded gift certificates for UMD Stores and UMD Food Services.

Chelsea is senior at UMD and has been riding the DTA on the U-PASS program for 4 years.

U-PASS ridership at UMD reached the 1 millionth rider milestone in March of 2004; and the 2 millionth rider in February of 2007.

U-PASS ridership at UMD has increased every year since 2000 and has accounted for 11.6 percent of the DTA’s over-all ridership of 25,899,357 during the same time period. However, during fall and spring semesters when school is in session, U-PASS ridership at UMD accounts for 20 percent of DTA’s system-wide ridership.

U-PASS ridership at UMD for 2008 increased by 32.4% over 2007 with 500,215 rides

U-PASS ridership at UMD for September 2008 was up 59% compared to September 2007 with 75, 803 rides and is the second highest monthly total at UMD since the program began in 2000. The highest monthly total at UMD was October 2008 with 75,825 rides. Prior to the U-PASS Program, UMD ridership averaged just 4,000 a month. UMD ridership today tops the 4,000 rider mark in only 2 days. The average monthly ridership during Fall Semester 2008 was 64,345.

The U-PASS Program was introduced in Fall Semester of 2000 as an innovative partnership between UMD and the DTA to encourage greater use of public transportation on campus by providing unlimited rides for students, faculty and staff and building on-campus transit hub.

The U-PASS Program was designed to reduce on-campus traffic and address the construction related reduction of campus parking. More than 700 campus parking spaces have been eliminated since 2000, due to on-campus construction at UMD.

Since 2000, when the U-PASS Program was instituted, UMD has experienced a phenomenal 23 percent increase in enrollment. UMD enrollment is now at an all time high with more than 12,000 students. The U-PASS Program has been very instrumental in accommodating the transportation needs of this increased enrollment.

The unlimited-ride U-PASS arrangement with UMD was a prerequisite by the DTA for establishing a transit hub on campus, which opened in December of 2004. The Kirby Plaza transit hub construction was funded primarily by federal grant monies the DTA received in 1999 and 2000.

The Kirby Plaza Transit Hub is bustling with activity these days with five major bus routes serving the campus: Route #6 – Mainline/UMD; Route #11– East 8th Street/UMD/Morley Heights; Route #12 – Kenwood/UMD; Route #13 – East Fourth Street/UMD/Woodland, and Route #18 – UMD/CSS via Rice Lake and Arrowhead.

The Kirby Plaza Transit Hub has a spacious passenger waiting lobby and three route-specific bus shelters equipped with electronic signs that operate with a GPS-based “Intelligent Transportation System” and provide “real-time” bus departure times. The Transit Hub also includes indoor and outdoor seating for riders, route and schedule informational displays, an extended canopy, and highly-illuminated bus stop and bus staging areas.

Since 2000, the DTA has developed a number of inter-lined bus routes that provide “one-seat rides” to and from the UMD campus from New Duluth, Lincoln Park, West Duluth, Morgan Park, Gary, Proctor and Piedmont. The DTA also provides direct service to and from UMD from East Hillside, Woodland, Morley Heights and Kenwood neighborhoods. UMD riders in Lakeside, Duluth Heights, West Fourth Boulevard, Park Point and Superior, WI make connections to one of five routes serving the UMD campus at established transfer points or in downtown Duluth.

The DTA and UMD are contractually committed to continue the U-PASS Program through spring semester 2011.

Lake Superior College, University of Wisconsin, Superior and the College of St. Scholastica are also onboard the DTA’s U-PASS Program. Ridership at these colleges continues to grow; but on a smaller scale than UMD.

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