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Metro North ridership hit record levels in 2016

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NEW HAVEN -- Metro-North ridership hit record levels along the New Haven line in 2016, with some 40.5 million passenger rides purchased last year.

Ridership along the New Haven line was up some 20,000 passenger trips, from 2015 to 2016.

"Thankfully, the economy of Connecticut is beginning to pick up again and, when that happens, we see more people riding on the trains," said John Hartwell, a member of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, which is a group mandated by state statute to monitor daily rail operations.

Hartwell says he's largely pleased with Governor Dannel P. Malloy's support of the rail system, beginning with an increase in service just over two years ago.

"It used to be, during the day, we only had trains every hour. Now, we have them every half hour," noted Hartwell.

And, while 405 new M-8 passenger cars have improved the overall rider experience, the Federal Railroad Administration has mandated slower speeds as a result of several accidents involving Metro North trains in recent years.

"So, what used to take an hour on the express from Westport is now an hour and 12 minutes," said Hartwell. Thus, he says, the New Haven Line is not running on time of late.

Jason Lu, a Yale student, from Queens, NY, says," I rely heavily on the train schedule." He says he has to take a train, subway and a bus to reach his New York home.

While fares on the New Haven Line increased by 6 percent in December, some passengers still prefer Metro North to Amtrak.