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Published January 18 2012

More along for the ride: MATBUS ridership up nearly 5% in Fargo-Moorhead

FARGO – Ridership continues to soar on the metro area’s public transportation system.

MATBUS services offered more than 2.1 million rides last year – an increase of 4.7 percent, or 100,000 rides, from 2010, transit officials said Wednesday.

Ridership especially boomed in Moorhead, with a record high of more than 430,000 passengers last year, up 15 percent from the year before.

Since 2005, ridership on MATBUS and MAT Paratransit services has increased by 81 percent, transit managers said.

Officials credit several factors behind the trend, including higher gas prices and MATBUS efforts to improve routes and expand public outreach within the community.

For instance, more and more MATBUS passengers own vehicles but ride the bus by choice.

“By providing affordable transportation to work and school, transit plays a vital role in a recovering economy,” Moorhead Transit Manager Lori Van Beek said.

Better technology – such as hybrid buses that run on both diesel fuel and electricity – also helped to improve services last year, Fargo Transit Administrator Julie Bommelman said.

“The introduction of hybrid technology is enabling us to realize savings in fuel costs, while further solidifying our environmental commitment,” she said.

MATBUS offers 25 fixed routes throughout Fargo, Moorhead, Dilworth and West Fargo.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541