MTA restores Metro-North Railroad service as commuters return

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York
Grand Central Terminal.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will restore more service to Metro-North Railroad commuter lines starting next week, transit gurus announced Monday.

“With the region’s reopening picking up speed, we recognize the need to offer more robust service as our customers return to the office and normal life,” said Metro-North Railroad President Cathy Rinaldi at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on June 14.

The agency will add 24 peak-time trains to three of its lines running east of the Hudson River — or eight trains each — increasing service to 67% of pre-pandemic levels, up from 63% which has been in place for a year. 

“It truly feels like a new day here at Grand Central — look at all the people around,” Rinaldi said at the Midtown Manhattan train hub.

On the Harlem Line, MTA will increase the number of trains in the morning and afternoon peak periods from 21 to 25.

The Hudson Line will up trains from 18 to 22 in the mornings, and from 17 to 21 in the afternoon, while the New Haven Line will boost trains from 22 to 26 for both peak periods.

The agency plans to raise service to 83% of pre-pandemic levels on Aug. 29, just in time for Labor Day. 

The railway had its highest daily ridership since the pandemic on June 1, carrying 94,900 passengers. That’s still less than half the average daily ridership prior to the coronavirus outbreak in the spring of 2020.

In 2019, some 87.2 million people rode Metro-North trains, about 238,904 a day, but ridership plummeted by 95% on April 1 to 13,600, according to the Authority’s annual report from that year.

The MTA also extended the opening hours of the north-end entrances to Grand Central at 46th, 47th, and 48th Streets to 6:30 am-9:30 pm, effective June 14. The accessways have been closed outside of the morning rush since September.

The return of service is a promising sign of the region’s recovery and a return to normalcy, according to the head of an MTA watchdog group. 

“This additional service that’s being added, both on Monday and in August, is really a terrific sign for commuters and it’s a great sign of recovery for our region,” said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, in a statement. “More trains are great for anybody who wants to travel around the region. It’s a great sign of our economic return to some sense of normalcy.”