Metro-North Ridership Reaches Near High

A couple of days ago, the MTA released information on 2010 ridership. The Metro-North took the time to announce that 2010 saw its 2nd highest ridership total in its history. Here are the details courtesy of a release sent to me:

Despite a still-bruising recession MTA Metro-North Railroad customers are coming back. By the end of the year, overall ridership in 2010 was up 1.5% over 2009.

In 2010, Metro-North provided 81.1 million trips, the second-highest year on record, exceeded only in 2008, when 83.3 million people took trips on Metro-North.

Metro-North also achieved a stellar on-time record of 97.7% for the year, the sixth year in a row that trains performed at 97.5% on-time or better.

“It was a terrific performance to operate such a complex system at such a high level day in and day out,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut. “It is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of our employees. The challenge in 2011 is to fix the New Haven Line and bring it up to the standards of the Hudson and Harlem lines and at the same time to continue to improve all three lines.”

After 15 consecutive months of ridership declines, the ridership rebound began last March with non-commutation trips. Occasional customers who traveled during the midday, at nights and on weekends started coming back to Metro-North for their discretionary trips in March.

The commutation market, those who use monthly or weekly tickets for trips to and from work, began to turn around in April of 2010.

This was boosted by the first full year of service to the new Yankees-East 153rd Street Station, which accounted for 700,000 rides, about 250,000 more than in 2009. Regular, non-game day ridership more than doubled from 2009.

Of interest is the 2.8% rate of growth on the New Haven Line. This compares to the Hudson Line where ridership rose 1% and the Harlem Line, which grew 0.3%. Of all the line segments, the portion of the New Haven line between Stamford and New Haven was the best-performing segment with overall growth of 5% in 2010.

“The Outer New Haven Line really led the way and buoyed the whole railroad, despite the fact that the line has an antique fleet that is not large enough to accommodate all our customers comfortably,” Permut said. “We look forward to the introduction of the new M-8 cars, which will occur in the very near future.”

West of the Hudson, on the lines operated by New Jersey Transit under contract to Metro-North, ridership at the three stations in Rockland County on the Pascack Valley Line grew 5% last year and achieved an overall on time performance of 96.5%.

The Port Jervis Line, which serves Orange County, is the only line where ridership declined, by 4.8% in 2010, while maintaining an overall on-time performance of 95.4%.

For 2011, Metro-North is projecting modest ridership growth of 0.7%.

Personally I am not a fan of trying to correlate economic growth or lack thereof to ridership statistics. Even with the current economic crisis, millions of people in our region still have jobs & use mass transit to reach them. So while it is good that ridership grew reached near historic levels, leave the message to that.

On the flip side, these figures clearly send a message to elected officials that our transit infrastructure & network is of vital importance. The importance of the cog that it is within the whole picture should never be underestimated. The question is will they act on these facts? If they don’t, we will see more disasters like the New Haven Line cutback of service due to equipment failures.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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