2012 saw a ridership increase of 0.8 percent over 2011, but not enough to top 2008 when the railroad provided a record-breaking 83.6 million trips.
Metro-North estimates it lost 1.8 million rides in 2012 due to Super Storm Sandy, the most severe weather impact on ridership ever. Had Sandy not occurred the railroad was on track for a new record of 84.9 million rides.
"Our ridership has doubled in the 30 years since Metro-North's inception and was on track to be the highest ever in 2012 before Sandy struck," said Metro-North President Howard Permut. "Nevertheless, by providing consistent and reliable service and good value, we have been able to double ridership from about 40 million a year to more than 83 million now and we expect that trend to continue."
Ridership on the New Haven Line did set a new record in 2012 with 38.8 million rides, up 1.3 percent, breaking a record set in 2011, when the line carried 38.3 million people.
Ridership into Stamford also remains strong. Some 5,300 people get off morning trains from both directions. About 2,400 people get off trains from the west and 2,900 from trains to the east, about the same as the year before.
On the Harlem Line, ridership was 26.6 million, up .8 percent over 2011.
And on the Hudson Line, ridership of 15.9 million was up an even more modest .3 percent over 2011.
West of the Hudson, ridership on the Port Jervis Line, which was hit hard by another storm, Hurricane Irene in 2011, continues to lag.
Overall, West of Hudson ridership was down 4.1 percent compared to 2011. The Port Jervis Line was down 6.8 percent, while the Pascack Valley Line increased 1.1 percent.
In other MTA news, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) ridership rose last year. Total ridership for 2012 was 81.7 million, 0.7 percent higher than in 2011. Ridership had risen for 13 straight months until October, when Sandy ravaged the region, forced temporary service reductions and caused hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of damage to the LIRR.
Prior to Sandy, total ridership was up 4.3 percent over the same period in 2011, strongly suggesting that the LIRR would have enjoyed continued ridership growth if not for the storm.
The impact continued through November and early December largely because the LIRR did not have full use of the two Amtrak tunnels flooded during hurricane. LIRR ridership was off by 17.7 percent in November compared to November 2011 and the overall loss of ticket sales as a result of Sandy cost the LIRR an estimated $10.2 million in operating revenue.