ConnDOT: Governor Rell: Rail Ridership Shows Strong Growth in 2008

FOR RELEASE: March 2, 2009
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 Governor Rell: Rail Ridership Shows Strong Growth in 2008

Shore Line East Adds More Instate Customers

New Haven Line Ridership Nearly 38 Million


Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced rail ridership jumped markedly in 2008 for both the New Haven Line and Shore Line East rail services, adding a record number of riders for both services.


“Using commuter rail service makes good common sense, especially in these economic times, given the fluctuation of fuel prices and leaner household budgets,” Governor Rell said. “That is why in my budget proposal I have not raised rail or bus fares at this time. As more families struggling to make ends meet, Connecticut’s rail service is reliable, efficient and reasonably priced.”


The New Haven Line added nearly 1.4 million more customers, a 3.9 percent increase over 2007. The Governor said Shore Line East rail service experienced double digit percentage increases in eight out of 12 months in 2008, adding 58,400 more customers traveling instate.


The New Haven Line branch line rail service also experienced record increases in 2008.  The Waterbury Branch rail line led the growth with a 34 percent increase in 2008, adding 78,400 more customers.  The Danbury Branch increased 7 percent in 2008, adding 55,000 more customers.


The Connecticut Department of Transportation working with Metro-North Railroad, the state’s operator of the New Haven Line, reconfigured weekday and weekend schedules on these two branch lines to increase rail service and provide better train schedules to service their region. The Governor noted that the first rail cars in the new M8 fleet are scheduled to be delivered later this year. 


“The investments made several years ago to improve our rail system are coming closer to reality,” Governor Rell said. “Convenient and expanded rail service is critical to our state’s economic advantage in the region and quality of life,” said Governor Rell.


Shore Line East began offering permanent weekend rail service from Old Saybrook to New Haven in July 2008. During the past six months, nearly 30,000 used the weekend service. Shore Line East offered weekend service for seven weeks in the final two months of 2007 and attracted 3,600 riders.


“Shore Line East continues to grow ridership.  More travelers are using the service for points west of New Haven such as Bridgeport, South Norwalk and Stamford,” state Transportation Commissioner Joe Marie said. “Even in the month of December with employment losses in New York City, Shore Line East experienced a ridership growth of 16 percent. As we continue to expand rail service in Connecticut, Shoreline East will be an essential component.” 


The Governor also noted that the state Department of Transportation, under her direction, is working on a pilot program with Metro-North, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak to operate trains from New Haven to the New Jersey Meadowlands Complex for this football season.



Shore Line East (SLE)


  • SLE weekday service increased over 12 percent in 2008 providing rail service to over 538,000 customers an increase of 58,400 more passenger rides compared to 2007.


  • The month of November 2008 weekend rail service provided over 6,400 passenger rides.  On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 26, SLE carried nearly 3,000 customers, a new historic high.


  • In 2008, SLE provided holiday service and adjusted rail service for the Friday after the holidays to meet the growing ridership. For example, on Thanksgiving SLE provided service to nearly 500 customers.


  • SLE largest ridership months carrying over 50,000 customers were experienced in July with 51,514 and October with 50,550.  Compared in 2007, October was the largest month with 44,471 customers.



New Haven Line (NHL)


  • In 2008, the New Haven Line reached a historic level of ridership providing rail service to nearly 38 million customers, an increase over 1.4 million from 2007.  The NHL has the largest number of customers in Metro-North Railroad operations, making it one of the busiest rail lines in the United States.

  • Over the course of the past 5 years, the New Haven Line has grown from 33 million customers in 2004 to nearly 38 million customers, adding 4 million more customers during that period.


  • The NH Branch Line rail service also experienced increases in 2008.  The New Canaan branch rail line increased 5.4 percent, adding 78,500 more customers.  The Danbury branch rail line increased 7 percent, adding 55,100 customers and the Waterbury branch rail line experienced the largest increase of 33.9 percent, adding 78,400 customers in 2008.


  • November 2008 experienced less than 1 percent increase and in December 2008 marked a decrease of –1.4 percent in ridership from 2007.  The month of December had 44,600 less customers in 2008 than in 2007.