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Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad Detail Major Ridership Gains in 2022

Updated April 24, 2023 7:45 p.m.
GCT 110

Metro-North Ridership Increases 59%; LIRR Up 50%

Compared with 1990, Metro-North Non-Manhattan Ridership Up 52%

LIRR Reaches 57.6% of Pre-Pandemic Ridership and Metro-North Reaches 56.4%

In the first detailed analysis of Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad ridership in 2022, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials today highlighted longstanding and recent trends that contributed to the most significant year-over-year ridership gains since Metro-North was founded in 1983 and LIRR modern record-keeping began in 1979.

Among the topline findings:

  • Metro-North 2022 ridership of 48.9 million was up 59% from 2021’s 30.8 million, bringing total ridership to 56.4% of 2019 prepandemic ridership.
  • LIRR 2022 ridership of 52.5 million was up 50% from 2021’s 35.0 million, bringing total ridership to 57.6% of 2019 prepandemic ridership.
  • Despite the pandemic, Metro-North’s customer trips between pairs of stations outside Manhattan – known by the railroad as intermediate travel – are up 52% compared with 1990 levels.

“These numbers paint a picture of a healthy ridership recovery that is in part being fueled by strengthening of off-peak, discretionary, leisure, and non-commutation travel as riders increasingly opt for the railroads for their convenience, reliability and environmental benefits,” said Catherine Rinaldi, President of Metro-North Railroad and Interim President of the Long Island Rail Road. “With the continued post-pandemic strengthening of in-office work and the opening of Grand Central Madison in early 2023, allowing direct cross-railroad travel for the first time, I predict even stronger numbers in 2023.”

Other factors fueling the ridership growth are increasing ease of access to service information and ticketing, and fare discounts. The MTA introduced a pilot program offering updated fare structures starting on Feb. 25, 2022, including a 10% discount on monthly tickets, the creation of discounted 20-trip tickets, and an expansion of the discounted $5 City Ticket for travel within the borders of New York City, from weekends-only to all weekend/weekday off-peak trains. Six months later, the MTA introduced a merged TrainTime app for both railroads which combines ticketing with a vast amount of granular, real-time, easily accessible information on train locations, estimated arrival times, track assignments and seating availability per car.

This ease of access to information was not available to the public in 1990, which calls to mind a long-term perspective on current ridership trends. Even despite the impact of the pandemic, Metro-North intermediate ridership was 31.3% more than 2021 and 52.4% more than 1990, underscoring the public’s long-term trend of growing use of Metro-North for local travel within the Hudson Valley, the Bronx and Connecticut.

In 2022, the LIRR recorded double-digit growth in reverse-peak travel even in advance of major reverse-peak schedule increases that took effect in late February 2023. In 2022, reverse-peak ridership increased +35.9% in the morning period and +33.2% in the afternoon/evening peak period. This growth outpaced general non-commutation ridership, which increased 24.2% over 2021.

While LIRR ridership grew by double digits on every branch, the top five strongest branches were the Oyster Bay Branch (66.1% increase), West Hempstead Branch (61.8% increase), Port Washington Branch (59.1% increase), Hempstead Branch (58.7% increase), and Port Jefferson Branch (50.3% increase).