MTA Metro-North Railroad had its second highest ridership in 2012, providing 83 million rail rides despite the lingering effects of super storm sandy.
2012 saw a ridership increase of .8 percent over 2011, but not enough to top 2008 when the railroad provided a record-breaking 83.6 million trips.
Metro-North estimates it lost 1.8 million rides in 2012 due to super storm Sandy, the most severe weather impact on ridership ever. Had Sandy not occurred the railroad was on track for a new record of 84.9 million rides.
“Our ridership has doubled in the 30 years since Metro-North’s inception and was on track to be the highest ever in 2012 before Sandy struck,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut. “Nevertheless, by providing consistent and reliable service and good value, we have been able to double ridership from about 40 million a year to more than 83 million now and we expect that trend to continue.”
Ridership on the New Haven Line did set a new record in 2012 with 38.8 million rides, up 1.3 percent breaking a record set in 2011, when the line carried 38.3 million people.
Ridership into Stamford also remains strong. Some 5,300 people get off morning trains from both directions, making it the biggest outlying station and the busiest suburban work destination in 2012. About 2,400 people get off trains from the west and 2,900 from trains to the east, about the same as the year before.
“Customers count on the New Haven Line every day for clean, safe, convenient and reliable service,” said Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker, “and it’s gratifying that commuters have validated our commitment to service through increased ridership. Our investments in new and more comfortable rail cars and other equipment seem to be paying off.”
On the Harlem Line, ridership was 26.6 million, up .8 percent over 2011.
And on the Hudson Line, ridership of 15.9 million was up an even more modest .3 percent over 2011. Sandy had an impact long after most weather events are over and done.
“It is unprecedented that three-months after the storm, the effects still were being felt,” said Robert MacLagger, vice president of planning. “In December, 11 percent of lower Manhattan office buildings were still unoccupied due to electrical problems, elevators still inoperable and telephone problems. And many of Metro-North’s commuters work in Lower Manhattan.”
December 2012 commutation sales were down 2 percent compared to December in 2011.
“But sales of monthly tickets in January seem normal for the first time since Sandy, so that’s positive,” MacLagger added.
“Life is returning to normal for a lot of these buildings in Lower Manhattan,” MacLagger said. “The New York City economy has been rebounding, the quality of our service continues to be excellent, with an on-time performance of 97.6 percent systemwide last year. We added significant service in October and we are adding a lot more off-peak and weekend service in April so these things help attract more riders.”
West of the Hudson, ridership on the Port Jervis Line, which was hit hard by another storm, Hurricane Irene in 2011, continues to lag.
Overall, West of Hudson ridership was down 4.1 percent compared to 2011. The Port Jervis Line was down 6.8 percent, while the Pascack Valley Line increased 1.1 percent