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Annual ridership on MTA Metro-North Railroad reached an all-time record of 86.1 million last year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced yesterday. The figure marks a 1.6 percent increase over 2014, MTA officials said in a press release.
Additionally, the number of passengers commuting to work on Metro-North nudged up 1 percent, while non-commuter ridership rose 2.3 percent.Meanwhile, MTA Long Island Rail Road's (LIRR) ridership rose by 2.1 percent to 87.6 million in 2015. The railroad remained the busiest regional railroad in the nation, MTA officials said.The number of commuters riding LIRR trains increased by 2.1 percent to 50.4 million, while the number of non-commuters bumped up 2 percent to 37.3 million.Each railroad surpassed previous ridership records set in 2008, when gasoline prices were high, said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast, noting that the trend in ridership continues even as gas prices have dropped."We are seeing the confluence a strengthening regional economy, healthier downtowns around the region, a new generation of millennials who values public transportation, and greater productivity on board our trains through the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and laptops," Prendergast said.Riders also are responding to improvements the MTA has made, such as more frequent trains, better on-time performance, a fleet of modern electric cars, expanding availability of real-time information and more channels for customer communication, Prendergast added.Investments included in MTA's 2015-19 Capital Program are aimed at positioning the commuter railroads for further growth in the years ahead. The program includes funding for the construction of four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx, the expansion of Metro-North's New Haven Line to Penn Station, and adding a third track to LIRR's Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville.The capex program also provides funds for the construction of new LIRR stations in the Queens neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Sunnyside.