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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metro-North's reverse-commute, off-peak ridership exceeds NYC-bound passenger count for the first time


MTA Metro-North Railroad commuters who travel from their suburban homes to New York City now make up the minority of the agency’s ridership. In 2005, New York City-bound commuters accounted for 49.4 percent of ridership, while off-peak, reverse commute and intermediate passengers made up the majority.

Although Metro-North’s ridership has grown steadily in all categories — reaching a record 74.5 million passengers in 2005 — the number of NYC-bound commuters has increased 17 percent and other commuting segments, 126 percent, since Metro-North opened in 1984. More riders are using Metro-North to travel from New York City to suburban employment centers and between stations not including NYC’s Grand Central Terminal, and for non-work-related trips.

Metro-North officials attribute the shift in regional travel patterns to the dispersion of the financial, insurance and real estate industries, growing suburban corporate office parks and development of high-rise office towers in suburban cities. The agency has actively pursued those markets by adding trains, adjusting schedules, advertising and providing shuttle buses between stations and job sites, Metro-North said.

“We knew our real growth opportunity lay in the non-traditional markets, where we had the empty seats,” said Metro-North President Peter Cannito in a prepared statement.