The MTA will begin running more frequent service on three Metro-North lines in the latest effort by the transit agency to boost lagging ridership rates among suburban commuters.
Starting on Monday, the MTA will restore 66 weekday trains previously cut from the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven lines, bringing service to 89% of pre-pandemic levels, the agency said. The new schedules will include more frequent express service at some of the busiest stations, shortening travel times by as much as 13 minutes, according to transit officials.
In a statement, Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi said the changes were meant to improve the attractiveness of weekday service “as more riders return to traditional peak periods.”
But while the railroad has rebounded from its omicron-fueled lull, Metro-North ridership remains at just 45% of its pre-pandemic levels, according to the most recent MTA figures. Both subway and bus ridership have rebounded significantly faster.
The slow comeback was in line with a nationwide shift that has hit commuter rail lines particularly hard, as many white-collar suburbanites spurn a return to daily commuting.
The MTA has undertaken efforts to coax those riders back, offering commuter rail discounts, as well as a new 20-trip ticket “specifically for the rider who might be coming into the office only a few times a week,” according to MTA Chair Janno Lieber.
As part of the new adjustment, the New Haven line will see an additional 34 weekday trains between Grand Central, Stamford and New Haven. Harlem Line weekday service will increase by 18 trains, while the Hudson Line will see an additional 14 trains.
Additionally, the MTA’s latest scheduling update offers good news for baseball fans: the so-called “Yankee Clipper” trains will soon be restored on all three lines, providing direct service to Yankee Stadium on game days.