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Rail News: Passenger Rail

LIRR, AirTrain, Tri-Rail note higher annual or daily passenger counts


Two transit agencies posted record or near-record ridership figures in 2007.

MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
carried 86.1 million passengers, a 4.9 percent increase compared with 2006’s total and a “modern-day” record, according to the agency. The agency’s highest-ever passenger count of 91.8 million riders was recorded in 1949.

Peak-period ridership rose 4 percent and off-peak ridership increased 6.3 percent.

LIRR officials attribute the increases to high gas prices, marketing programs, New York City job growth and improved on-time performance (OTP). In 2007, the agency set an annual OTP record of 94 percent; last month, LIRR posted a monthly OTP record of 96.5 percent.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark posted annual records, too. The trains connect New York City-area mass transit systems to Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports.

AirTrain JFK served more than 4.4 million paid passengers, up 12 percent, and AirTrain Newark handled nearly 1.8 million paid passengers, up 13.5 percent year over year. Ridership has increased each year since AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark opened in 2003 and 2001, respectively.

Meanwhile, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) posted its third-highest daily ridership on Feb. 6, carrying 15,025 passengers. The agency’s Tri-Rail commuter-rail system has only carried more passengers on June 23, 2006, when 18,613 passengers rode the train the day of the Miami Heat victory parade, and Feb. 15, 1995, when 15,921 riders used the system during a Valentine’s Day promotion.

“We’ve been consistently carrying more than 14,000 passengers a day over the past two weeks, but this number certainly puts our ridership growth into a new perspective,” said SFRTA Executive Director Joe Giulietti in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/8/2008