A surge in train travel over the last three months of 2013 helped boost MTA Long Island Rail Road’s ridership for the second year in a row with the LIRR recording a 2% jump in passenger rides over 2012 totals.
The LIRR carried 83.4 million riders in 2013, an increase of 1,640,716 passengers over the previous year. The 2 percent increase is another indication that the region’s economy is improving and that LIRR customers responded to the restoration of some service that had been cut during the Great Recession.
“We are seeing an increase in both commuters going to work and occasional riders,” said LIRR President Helena E. Williams. “We had the opportunity to add back some service in 2013 and we are pleased that riders are responding by using the LIRR more often to get to work as well as for leisure and other travel during the off peak periods. We believe the increase in ridership also reflects an improving Long Island and NYC economy.”
The LIRR’s 2013 ridership is the 7th best year in the post-war period. The LIRR carried 87.4 million passengers in 2008, its best year at the time in 60 years.
The LIRR branches with notable increases in 2013 include: Port Washington with a 3.0% increase or 351,294 rides; Port Jefferson with a 2.7% increase or 471,942 rides; Far Rockaway with a 2.6% increase or 139,808 rides; Ronkonkoma with a 2.4 increase or 228,366 rides; and Montauk with a 2.8 percent increase or 57,525 rides. Long Beach, which is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, experienced a decline (0.8%).
Significantly, the LIRR experienced a nearly 3 percent jump in weekly and monthly passenger rides last year (commutation ridership).
The LIRR last year took a number of steps that helped boost weekend and leisure travel, including an enhanced service plan to meet new demand created by the opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, located directly across from the LIRR’s Atlantic Terminal.
In the summer, the LIRR made adjustments to the Montauk schedule, including moving the departure of the Friday afternoon Cannonball express train to Penn Station from Hunterspoint Avenue. In November, the LIRR restored half-hourly weekend service on the Port Washington Branch. The Railroad also added trains to and from Farmingdale on its weekday schedule on the Ronkonkoma Branch and extended weekend service to and from Greenport by approximately 10 weeks, providing service into November.