With track fires and derailments creating havoc, commuters on the region’s rails need some good news. And Metro-North is stepping up to deliver it. To accommodate its growing ridership, Metro-North is adding more service to weekday rush hour and weekend trains. Since March 2010, total ridership on the system is up by 5.8 percent, jumping as high as ten percent on some stretches. To accommodate the increase, the agency is adding cars to existing trains and adding more trains during AM and PM runs into and out of Grand Central.
Beginning today, commuters on the Hudson Line will have an additional AM peak train departing Poughkeepsie at 7:13 AM and an extra express PM train departing Grand Central at 6:12 PM. Weekend ridership on the Hudson Line has also jumped, especially during Yankees baseball season. (Which is part of the reason why the stadium’s oversized parking garages are seeing vacancy rates over 50%, as advocates predicted.) On the Harlem Line, five trains will be added to the Sunday schedule to accommodate the rise in weekend trips along with three additional AM trains to Grand Central and two more PM trains leaving. No service adjustments to the New Haven Line (but commuters are at least enjoying the occasional new M8 train).
Amtrak broke ridership records with news that the rail carried 30.2 million passengers in 2011. According to the agency, it’s “a total that has never been reached in the corporation’s 40 years of operation.” Overall, ridership for the agency has grown 44% since 2000. Meanwhile, the FY2012 federal budget could slash support for Amtrak if the funding levels being considered by the House are adopted.
It is an encouraging sign to see transit ridership grow so significantly. The recession prompted dips in ridership and revenue casting a shadow on the financial outlook for the region’s transit agencies. But, the worry continues as these agencies struggle to accommodate this growth with tight budgets and threats of state and federal cuts on the horizon.
Image: Adam E. Moreira/Wikimedia Commons.