Ridership Records on LIRR & Metro-North

Long Island Rail Road ridership to and from Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal has surged 334 percent since the opening of the adjacent Barclays Center in September, with the LIRR now carrying an average of 3,300 new customers on event nights. And Metro-North Railroad never carried more people than ever before on its busiest line, the New Haven Line, in 2012.

These are just two of the highlights of MTA railroad ridership in 2012, a year when both railroads saw overall ridership gains despite Hurricane Sandy, which caused the worst weather-related service and ridership curtailments in history. Total LIRR ridership for 2012 rose 0.7% to 81.7 million, and Metro-North ridership rose 0.8% to 83 million, its second-highest year ever, nearly matching the record of 83.6 million set in 2008.

LIRR ridership had risen for 13 straight months until October, when Sandy ravaged the region, forcing temporary service reductions. And Metro-North likely would have surpassed its all-time ridership record were it not for the hurricane.

MTA Railroads image

Metro-North estimates it lost 1.8 million rides in 2012 due to Sandy. 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.”

Looking forward, with service investments scheduled to be implemented in March, the LIRR is optimistic continued growth in 2013. Beginning March 4, the LIRR will be enhancing service on the Ronkonkoma, West Hempstead, Atlantic, Montauk and Long Beach Branches.

"History shows that more frequent service means more ridership," Williams said. "As the economy improves, we want to be ready with appropriate levels of service."

Barclays Center Boosts LIRR Ridership

The Barclays Center, basketball home of the Brooklyn Nets, future hockey home of the New York Islanders and showplace for such stars as Jay-Z, Barbra Streisand and Justin Bieber, has been a big hit with Long Islanders who are forsaking their cars and trucks to take advantage of the LIRR's enhanced service to and from the new Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn.

"Barclays Center has been every bit the draw we had anticipated it would be, creating a whole new customer stream for the LIRR," said LIRR President Helena Williams. "When Barclays Center opened in September, the LIRR was ready with the best possible service, including a special program including extra trains on event days and nights and a marketing campaign promoting travel via the LIRR to the new Atlantic Terminal across the street from the arena."

According to Williams, the biggest handle so far was the 4,852 arriving customers and 5,377 departing customers served by the LIRR on December 11, the night the Nets hosted the New York Knicks for the first time.

LIRR statistics show that more customers are taking the train home to Long Island from Downtown Brooklyn after a game or show, an indication that many fans head to Barclays directly from jobs in Manhattan and elsewhere.

Another All-Time High on the New Haven Line

Ridership on Metro-North's New Haven Line, where new M-8 cars are replacing aging M-2 cars dating back to 1973, set a new record in 2012 with 38.8 million rides, up 1.3% in 2012 and breaking the previous record, set the prior year.

Ridership into Stamford, the station at the center of the New Haven Line, remains strong. Some 5,300 people get off AM 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.”