FOR RELEASE: 3/5/2006
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Governor Rell Hails Public Transit Ridership Increases

More than 2.7 Million New Riders in 2006

                Governor M. Jodi Rell announced today that more than 2.7 million new riders took advantage of Connecticut bus and rail service in 2006 – a number she attributed to the state’s efforts to expand service, enhance amenities and educate the public and Connecticut businesses about the value of Connecticut transit services.

            “More and more Connecticut commuters are hearing our message: please take your cars off the road and hop on a train or a bus,” Governor Rell said. “That’s the best way to unclog our highways and parkways. It’s also a smart way to expand our economy by making our state a better place to do business. I commend the Connecticut Department of Transportation and its Bureau of Public Transportation for these very significant successes. Our commuters obviously appreciate it, too.”

            Across-the board increases were documented in the DOT’s annual bus and rail ridership report for 2006. The biggest increase was shown on Connecticut’s bus service, where there were 1.5 million new riders on daily fixed routes – a 5 percent increase over 2005. On Metro-North’s New Haven rail line, there was a jump of more than 1 million in ridership, which represented a 5 percent increase. In addition, there was an 8 percent, or 35,000 passenger, increase in Shore Line East rail ridership in 2006.

“We believe a number of issues contributed to the significant increases in ridership on Connecticut’s public transportation services,” Governor Rell said. “Employment opportunities in key regions of the state and higher fuel costs certainly provided the economic incentive to ride public transportation. We also believe that new and expanded bus and rail service improvements, newly refurbished rail cars on Shore Line East, and other new amenities put in place, plus the DOT’s commitment to improve public transportation in the state, all played a role.”

“It is especially gratifying to see more and more Connecticut residents discovering the value of our state’s public transit systems,” said DOT Commissioner Ralph J. Carpenter. “Over the past two years, Governor Rell and the General Assembly have made an overwhelming commitment to fund and support public transportation programs. That support is paying off with new buses and new rail cars coming on line in the near future. We invite more of the state’s citizens to join the move toward mass transit as the best means of getting to and from work.”

The New Haven Line is one of the busiest commuter lines in North America, carrying nearly 35 million passengers in 2006.  Metro-North Railroad, the operator of the New Haven Line, reported that 49 percent of the 2006 railroad’s ridership is composed of rush-hour commuters to Manhattan.  Fifty-one percent of those customers are now “reverse-commuting” out of Manhattan and the Bronx to suburban employment centers in Connecticut and New York, traveling during off-peak hours, or taking trips in the region without passing through Manhattan.

Intermediate ridership on the New Haven Line – those customers who do not begin or end their trip at Grand Central Terminal – makes up 14 percent of all trips taken.  In 2006, intermediate train travel within Connecticut on the New Haven Line increased by more than 6 percent. 

For Shore Line East service, October marked the highest number of riders carried on the rail line, with more than 42,000 passengers.  The summer months of May, June and July experienced double-digit increases in 2006. Ridership increases continued in January of this year, with an 11 percent increase over January 2006. On the New Haven Line, there was 4 percent increase in ridership in January, compared with January 2006.

Urban fixed-route bus service showed the largest increase of any of the various bus services, with an increase of over 5 percent compared to 2005. Commuter express services, which include express bus service into downtown Hartford, the New Haven-Hartford Express service and the I-Bus between Stamford and White Plains, New York, increased about 2 percent. The express bus routes have shown significant increases over the past few years as gasoline prices rose.