The MVTA's Apple Valley/Cedar Grove/University route saw a 47 percent increase over ridership in 2011, according to MVTA spokesperson Robin Selvig. Another route, the Sunday service between Eagan and the Mall of America, was up 10 percent.
Also, Route 477, the Apple Valley express to/from downtown Minneapolis, was the second most popular route in the system during the year.
2012 ridership was only 70,000 riders away from the MVTA's high ridership mark, which was set in 2008, Selvig said.
"The economy continued to recover and gas prices were up and down throughout the year," MVTA Chair and Eagan City Councilor Gary Hansen said. "This helped contribute to full buses and stable ridership."
MVTA officials believe the authority is well-positioned for growth this year, with the opening of a Rosemount bus station in December 2012 and the upcoming opening of the Metro Red Line Bus Rapid Transit service along Cedar Avenue.
The MVTA also saw increases in reverse commute ridership—or the number of workers traveling from core cities to the suburbs.