By Philip Newman
If Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road seemed more jammed than ever over the past year, it’s no illusion.
A report by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the LIRR’s 89.3 million passengers last year were the most since Harry Truman (1949) was president and Metro-North’s 86.5 million were the most in the railroad’s history.
“The LIRR’s growth continues recent trends in which the railroad has registered a 1.97 percent average growth per year over the past five years,” The MTA said.
The railroad’s ridership has climbed by 10.2 percent over five years from 81 million in 2011.
Metro-North’s ridership surpasses the previous record of 86.3 million set in the prior year. Metro-North’s total ridership has more than doubled since it was founded in 1982.
The ridership figures come at a time when Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a major capacity increase for LIRR by expanding the Main Line from two tracks to three between Floral Park and Hicksville. The LIRR is building a second track from Hicksville to to Ronkonkoma.
The study showed that millennials, defined as those born between 1981 and 1997, have lower levels of access to automobiles than older New Yorkers and are more likely to reach railroad stations by walking, bus or being dropped off by others.
The survey of LIRR passenger found that for weekday travel via the LIRR 65 percent of trips were made to Manhattan for work, 14 percent were for westbound work travel elsewhere, 9 percent were for non-work travel to Manhattan and 11 percent were for eastbound travel for work or non-work.