MATBUS ridership declining since 2020

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — Bus ridership is slowly declining since Matbus opened their doors since COVID.

During COVID-19, MATBUS allowed passengers to ride fare-free, but 2021 saw a decrease in passengers since opening up their normal fares again.

Several routes, like Routes 14 and 15 starting in downtown Fargo and ending up at West Acres, saw a more than twenty percent decrease since last year.
Others routes have seen marginal decreases that’s less than 2%.

“We also offer discount fare for youth, elderly and disabled patrons. Standard is $1.50, discount is $0.75. I think that having free fares has definitely encouraged more people to use the service more often. If it’s the same people who rely on transportation but now that we are back to charging fares I think that did have something to do with the decrease initially,” Cole Swingen, the Assistant Transit Director at the City of Fargo.

However, there’s one group that is still consistently using MATBUS to get to their location and their numbers are soaring.

“Another thing that we definitely noticed is a extreme increase in college ridership from last year compared to this year. I mean, more in person classes, things are kinda getting more back to normal. We’ve seen anywhere from 50 to over 200 percent increases compared to last year,” said Swingen.

He adds MATBUS will use their Link F-M service this week so people won’t have to worry about parking downtown.

“With the street fair, we have our free Link F-M promotion that’ll help people get from Moorhead Center Mall over in Moorhead to the Downtown Street Fair in Fargo. So, just kinda eliminate parking and that also gives people who might not normally ride MATBUS kind of a chance to experience what it’s like and make it easier for them,” Swingen says.

Swingen says he’s optimistic for the future as people will continue to use MATBUS services when fuel prices remain high.

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