NYTIP – transforming commuter rail: introducing regional rail by leveraging weekend ridership

Welcome back to my NYTIP series! This post serves as my brand-new introduction to “regional rail” improvements on NY’s commuter rail systems – Metro-North (MNR), Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), and NJ Transit (NJT). Many advocates – myself included – use the term “regional rail” to describe systemwide improvements such as lower fares (and fewer fare zones), service increases, and “through running”; an excellent report by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC) describes each of these elements in detail.

While it’s true that COVID-19 has decimated weekday commuter rail ridership in NY, a different picture is beginning to emerge on weekends:



[Figs. 1, 2] Screenshots from MTA’s website taken on 10.14.2022 showing MNR and LIRR ridership over the last 7 days.

That’s right – weekend commuter rail ridership has not only fully recovered – it is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels! Surprisingly, I have not heard MTA or local politicians highlight or celebrate this fact. (If they did, I must’ve missed it.) In this post, I will explore ideas for using these weekend ridership gains to jump-start regional rail improvements in – and through – NY.

[Let’s begin!]

Simplified Summary

This post describes three key ideas for improving NY's commuter rail network. These three ideas are reducing fares, increasing service, and through-running. Weekend ridership now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, which affords an opportunity to implement these ideas. In doing so, the Tri-State Area can begin the transition from commuter rail to regional rail.

NYTIP INSIDER – all aboard the RR train!

UPDATE (03.13.2022): Images now reflect v0.7.0 of the enhanced NYC subway.

You might’ve noticed that I’ve temporarily unpublished most of my subway extension posts. The main reason is my evolving stance on regional rail – a hot topic in the transport advocacy space and on Transit Twitter. Find out what this means for NYTIP on this edition of the INSIDER!

[Read On…]