In order to accommodate increased ridership during the fall/winter holiday shopping season, Metro-North has added more trains to the New Haven Line.
Starting Sunday, Oct. 14, Metro-North, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, will add 15 weekday and 30 weekend trains to those currently running, the MTA announced. In addition service frequency will be increased to every 30 minutes from both New Haven and Stamford at most times of the day.
In April 2013, more trains will be added on weekends between New York and Stamford to accommodate higher ridership into New York City during the spring and summer months.
"Metro-North is projecting record ridership of over 85 million rail rides in 2012, its highest ever," said Metro-North President Howard Permut in a press release. "We are gratified to be able to add service where it's most needed — on weekends and in the off-peak periods. By establishing 30-minute headways where we now offer only hourly service, we make the railroad an even more attractive choice and we expect ridership to grow even more as a result of these initiatives."
In related news the MTA last week announced a set of fare increases for all bridges, tunnels, tolls and subways it operates in New York — as well as fare increases for New York riders of the New Haven Line and Long Island Rail Road of 8.2 to 9.3 percent. (The increases do not affect rail ticket prices in Connecticut, which are set by the state Department of Transportation).
The MTA says the increases are needed in order to cover rising fixed costs in the areas of debt service, pensions, energy, and employee and retiree health care.
"Costs that the MTA does not exercise control over, namely those for debt service, pensions, energy, paratransit, and employee and retiree health care, continue to increase beyond the rate of inflation," said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota in a statement. "We are grappling with long-term measures to reduce these frustrating and difficult non-discretionary expenses, but today, they are the drivers of the need for a fare and toll increase."
Meanwhile the MTA claims that it has reduced its operating costs 0.3 percent in the past year as a result of "unprecedented management actions," however the release does not specifically state what those actions were.
The MTA will be holding a series of public hearings on the proposals before they go before the MTA board for a vote on Dec. 19.
Last year the Connecticut Department of Transportation approved a fare increase of 5.3% for Metro-North's New Haven Line that went into effect on January 1, 2012. That was just the first of a series of fare hikes planned over seven years that will raise fares a total of 19.25%.