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Via Garibaldi 8

Millennials fuel Metro-North ridership surge

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Millennials fuel Metro-North ridership surge  

Thomas C. Zambito , The Journal News Published 6:02 a.m. ET Feb. 10, 2016 | Updated 7:27 a.m. ET Feb. 11, 2016

     

 
 
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Reporter Thomas C. Zambito talks to Metro-North riders about the increase in ridership on the weekends. Video by Mark Vergari/The Journal News

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(Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Experts say young adults delay getting driver's licenses because they can't afford a car.
  • Metro-North is providing more tech services like Wifi in tunnels, mobile ticketing and phone apps.
  • The railroad is looking to attract train-loving millennials who move to suburbs to raise kids.
Late on a Saturday afternoon at the White Plains train station, the grim, workaday faces of the daily commuter have given way to 20-somethings sporting embroidered backpacks, earbuds and skinny jeans.

No briefcases are in sight, only plastic shopping bags hiding a few craft beers.

Among them is Nick Rieder, 27, of White Plains. During the week, the Minnesota native drives north to his job in a corporate office park in Westchester County. On the weekends, he leaves the car home.

 

“We’re just going to Harlem, 125th Street,” Rieder said. “And then we’re going to meet a buddy for a birthday party in the city. That’s the plan.”

 

It’s a scene repeated at Metro-North stations across the Lower Hudson Valley every weekend as a flood of millennials take over the rails. Metro-North officials say their growing presence fueled the commuter rail's record surge to 86.1 million riders last year.

 

Hard numbers of millennials who ride the rails are hard to come by, but Michael Shiffer, Metro-North's vice president for planning, sees evidence of the trend in the faces on the train he takes home every night through Westchester.

 

“When I ride home, I don’t see a lot of millennials on the train,” Shiffer said. “They’re there, but they’re not as visible. But when I look at the platform of people going inbound you see them. They’re the folks who want to go in at 7 or 8 at night. And that’s where they tend to be more visible.”

 

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 (Photo: Thomas C. Zambito/The Journal News)

 

An analysis of 2015 ridership numbers hint at the increase. Metro-North’s non-commutation ridership — those who take the train for something other than work — grew by 2.4 percent, or some 856,000 trips on lines east and west of the Hudson River in 2015, officials say. Commuter ridership, meanwhile, rose 1 percent.

“Much of our growth has been in the off-peak market,” Shiffer said, referring to the non-rush hour period. “It’s the travel on the weekends and the evenings.”

 

​Metro-North surveys appear to bear out the trend. On the weekends, those 35 or older will take the train half the time, while millennials take the train 75 percent of the time, Shiffer said.

 

Plummeting gas prices

The last time Metro-North witnessed such a ridership surge was in 2008 when gas prices were high. But, with gas prices leveling off, the ridership numbers have continued to tick upward at a time when many younger people are forsaking their car for the train.

 

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 (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

 

“We are seeing the confluence of a strengthening regional economy, healthier downtowns around the region, a new generation of millennials who value public transportation, and greater productivity on board our trains through the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and laptops,” Metropolital Transportation Authority President Thomas Prendergast said last week.

 

Millennials say it's not just time spent on their smartphone or listening to music that's got them riding trains. For many, it's the cheapest way to travel.

 

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 (Photo: Courtesy of Mercy College)

 

Jadean Norman, 20, a junior accounting major at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, takes the train into Grand Central Terminal three times a week for her part-time job at a midtown bank. She pays $260 for a monthly pass.

 

“It’s just overall a better experience than all the stress of driving, not to mention a lot of people my age can’t afford a car,” she said one night this week while taking the train into the city.

Given a choice, Norman said she’d rather be in her car.

 

“I think that there are pros and cons to both,” she added. “I do like being able to get work done on the train but, other than that, really, I would prefer my car because you’re in your own private space, you don’t have to deal with loud people and you can listen to music.”

 

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 (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

 

Ezar Merengueli, 31, was at the White Plains station Saturday on his way to see his family in Mount Kisco. He, too, said he rather be in a car.

 

“I’m working hard on getting one,” he said.

 

No money for a car

 

Norman and Merengueli are not alone among young people who cite economic factors for why they've turned to public transportation.

 

More millennials are living with their families despite an improved labor market, a PewResearch Center study concluded last year.

 

“In fact, the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds are less likely to be living independently of their families and establishing their own households today than they were in the depths of the Great Recession,” the study found.

 

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 (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

 

The findings dovetail with surveys by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, which show that fewer people between the ages of 20 and 24 are getting their driver’s licenses than in years past.

Millenials surveyed cite a host of reasons for putting off what, for many a suburban teen, has long been a rite of passage. Too busy, cars are too expensive, they prefer to take a bike or walk, they can get rides from others, and they prefer public transportation were the top five reasons cited.

 

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 (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

 

But, according to Brandon Schoettle, who co-authored the study with Michael Sivak, it could be that some young people can’t afford a car or don’t have the money to pay for parking in a city.

 

“Public transportation is often the only alternative that they have,” said Schoettle. “It’s usually their only backdrop. As you get olderand generally more financially stable, there’s a little less of a desire to use buses and trains."

 

To capture this young market, Metro-North has been working to provide the sort of technological upgrades favored by millennials. That includes Wifi service in tunnels, mobile ticketing and more phone apps.

 

Capturing the young market 

 

And, in recent years, they’ve added more trains on weekends and evenings, service that not all commuter rails are able to provide.

 

“One of the ways we’ve gotten there is running service on a consistent, predictable level, half-hourly service, where you look at the clocks and you know the train comes at 5 minutes past the hour,” said Shiffer. “That clock-face predictability really lends itself to the millennial travel pattern, to be able to come and go as they please.”

 

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 (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

 

In the years to come, Shiffer said, Metro-North will have an eye on capturing these train-loving millennials as they abandon New York City for a place in the suburbs. Several so-called transit-oriented developments have already sprouted up in New Rochelle, Yonkers and White Plains, catering to the young as well as empty-nesters.

 

“One of the things we need to be cognizant of is they’re going to have kids,” Shiffer said. “Because they got used to that lifestyle, they might be looking for walkable options for high-quality transit and they may look for that in the suburbs.”

 

A former college professor, Shiffer made a habit of inquiring about his students' travel habits, a curiosity he's applied to his job at Metro-North. Like them, he prefers to use his smartphone to check train schedules and click on apps.

 

"I feel like a millennial at heart," he said.

 

Source: http://www.lohud.com/story/news/transit/2016/02/10/millennials-metro-north/79939930/

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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I love how people keep writing these articles like they are surprised at the number of younger adults taking public transportation, considering its been public knowledge for a while now that Millenials prefer public transportation...

Edited by Around the Horn
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I love how people keep writing these articles like they are surprised at the number of younger adults taking public transportation, considering its been public knowledge for a while now that Millenials prefer public transportation...

When you’re a journalist looking for something to work on, it’s easiest to clobber together something trending but not universally known.

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I love how people keep writing these articles like they are surprised at the number of younger adults taking public transportation, considering its been public knowledge for a while now that Millenials prefer public transportation...

 

Writing about Millennial habits is the new news cliche now that crime is so far from its peak. Tabloid rags can't write shocking crime stories as often as they used to.

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I love how people keep writing these articles like they are surprised at the number of younger adults taking public transportation, considering its been public knowledge for a while now that Millenials prefer public transportation...

This is different though because there's been concerns about young folks abandoning/moving the suburbs and staying in the city. I too am a bit surprised by the number of millennials riding. Going to work, you don't see that many of them, but they are there. It's on the weekends that they are clearly visible. If the suburbs are going to remain viable for young folks, now is the time to capture them. Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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Not surprising... Millennials, generally speaking aren't looking to own - Whether it be a car or a house....

It's what happens when you have the grandchildren of a generation that was far too selfish & short-sighted when it came to providing for its own offspring.....

 

Generally speaking, I'm not worried about public transportation usage here - I'm worried about the overall quality of public transportation (which includes the RR's btw).... Millennials, unlike a lot of 'boomers & Gen-x'ers, have positive outlooks on public transportation, and are quite the progressives... I mean, can you really be a NIMBY if you don't have (or, want) a "B.Y".....

 

 

This is different though because there's been concerns about young folks abandoning/moving the suburbs and staying in the city....

Young folks abandoning the closeted mindset of their elders, I see as a good thing.... It disgusts me how the older Nassau/Suffolk patrons tend to view "the city".... When suburbanites from another state (NJ) hold their downtown (which is Manhattan... lol) in a better regard over suburbanites in their same state (Nassau/Suffolk in NY), it says enough for me.....

 

Islander fans still bitching about moving to Barclays; guaranteed everytime I'm on a train full of em, I'm going to hear at least one person bring up the move.... Save for the amt. of traffic (foot & vehicular) around Times Plaza, it's one of the main reasons I didn't want that damn arena here in the first place....

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This is different though because there's been concerns about young folks abandoning/moving the suburbs and staying in the city. I too am a bit surprised by the number of millennials riding. Going to work, you don't see that many of them, but they are there. It's on the weekends that they are clearly visible. If the suburbs are going to remain viable for young folks, now is the time to capture them.

 

Millenials are starting to move back, because as a cohort the first of em are starting to reach their 30s and have kids. However, when they do move back, they're generally trying to remake the suburbs in the image of the city, hence all those downtown developments near train stations in many of the suburbs.

 

Power to them - I find it ridiculous that in the suburbs, driving is a requirement for basically everything.

Edited by bobtehpanda

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Millenials are starting to move back, because as a cohort the first of em are starting to reach their 30s and have kids. However, when they do move back, they're generally trying to remake the suburbs in the image of the city, hence all those downtown developments near train stations in many of the suburbs.

 

Power to them - I find it ridiculous that in the suburbs, driving is a requirement for basically everything.

A result of the overpopulation of a city... Also speaks to said progressive mindset.

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Young folks abandoning the closeted mindset of their elders, I see as a good thing.... It disgusts me how the older Nassau/Suffolk patrons tend to view "the city".... When suburbanites from another state (NJ) hold their downtown (which is Manhattan... lol) in a better regard over suburbanites in their same state (Nassau/Suffolk in NY), it says enough for me.....

 

Same thing with Staten Island... It's heavily ironic how the people in Jersey City and Hoboken view Manhattan more favorably than Staten Islanders... (well the elders anyway, my age cohort loves the city)

 

(Hudson County should be the real fifth borough, but thats a whole other conversation for another time)

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Same thing with Staten Island... It's heavily ironic how the people in Jersey City and Hoboken view Manhattan more favorably than Staten Islanders... (well the elders anyway, my age cohort loves the city)

 

(Hudson County should be the real fifth borough, but thats a whole other conversation for another time)

Compare the ages of the people that have ran off to Hoboken & Jersey City (I personally know 2 people that moved to Hoboken... both women, both younger than I am.... one of them lived in Cobble Hill & the other one lived in Lenox Hill), to that of those that ran down to Staten Island...

 

Way to fortify the point.

 

Lol @ real 5th borough.... I'm not sure if I'd go that far, but could you imagine if Washington Heights & Inwood were as large/as bustling as Union City & North Bergen.... GWB bus terminal sucks, but that's also another topic of discussion for another time.

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I would consider moving to Westchester County because of Metro-North service. Depending on the station I board from I can get better train service then I get in the North Bronx with a subway only walking distance away. 

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I would consider moving to Westchester County because of Metro-North service. Depending on the station I board from I can get better train service then I get in the North Bronx with a subway only walking distance away.

 

I've been buying monthly passes now for some months and as long as I get one of the trains that start at Greystone, I've been very happy. Lots of seats available, though it is evident that more people are catching on. I get the same seat every morning. I've even made a few train buddies who plan on inviting me over. lol What I like the most is the predictability. I get in to GCT, walk to get my espresso and pastries or whatever and I walk in the office early, and I get to sleep in late. My total commute with me stopping off for coffee, etc. at two different locations and chatting with the barista is under an hour (door to door). Late nights I get home in about 30 minutes (includes transferring to the bus after the train). We have semi-express trains that get to Riverdale in two stops. Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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I've been buying monthly passes now for some months and as long as I get one of the trains that start at Greystone, I've been very happy. Lots of seats available, though it is evident that more people are catching on. I get the same seat every morning. I've even made a few train buddies who plan on inviting me over. lol What I like the most is the predictability. I get in to GCT, walk to get my espresso and pastries or whatever and I walk in the office early, and I get to sleep in late. My total commute with me stopping off for coffee, etc. at two different locations and chatting with the barista is under an hour (door to door). Late nights I get home in about 30 minutes (includes transferring to the bus after the train). We have semi-express trains that get to Riverdale in two stops.

 

That does sound great. I personally prefer "city life" more than the suburbs, but I'd definitely consider somewhere along Metro North. Better commute than my (N) or (R) train ride lol

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A result of the overpopulation of a city... Also speaks to said progressive mindset.

 

Well, a big portion of it is schools. In the city outside of a handful of school programs, school quality is still lower than in the suburbs*.

 

*Assuming your school district is wealthy and has people who still want to pay school taxes.

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I couldn't see myself as a Westchester resident.... IDK if it's the whole [north-of-white plains] vs. [south-of-white plains] thing or what, but something about the county doesn't make me wanna pull the plug & move up there.... When it comes to public transportation though, I've always been fond of bee line/liberty lines as a provider, but you can't go wrong with MNRR either...

 

....compare that to LI with LIRR & NICE..... LMAO....

my sides :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


I've been buying monthly passes now for some months and as long as I get one of the trains that start at Greystone, I've been very happy. Lots of seats available, though it is evident that more people are catching on. I get the same seat every morning. I've even made a few train buddies who plan on inviting me over. lol What I like the most is the predictability. I get in to GCT, walk to get my espresso and pastries or whatever and I walk in the office early, and I get to sleep in late. My total commute with me stopping off for coffee, etc. at two different locations and chatting with the barista is under an hour (door to door). Late nights I get home in about 30 minutes (includes transferring to the bus after the train). We have semi-express trains that get to Riverdale in two stops.

The only thing that's predictable with my commute on the LIRR is that I come home in one piece.....

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That does sound great. I personally prefer "city life" more than the suburbs, but I'd definitely consider somewhere along Metro North. Better commute than my (N) or (R) train ride lol

One of my colleagues lives in Manhattan (Upper East Side/Yorkville) in the 70s and sometimes I beat her into the office in terms of how long it takes to get in. Despite how close everything seems in the city, the congestion can make for very long commutes for relatively short distances. 35 minutes to go from the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side sometimes... Not any better than going from Brooklyn to Manhattan or another outer borough.  

I couldn't see myself as a Westchester resident.... IDK if it's the whole [north-of-white plains] vs. [south-of-white plains] thing or what, but something about the county doesn't make me wanna pull the plug & move up there.... When it comes to public transportation though, I've always been fond of bee line/liberty lines as a provider, but you can't go wrong with MNRR either...

 

....compare that to LI with LIRR & NICE..... LMAO....

my sides :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

The only thing that's predictable with my commute on the LIRR is that I come home in one piece.....

Well if I ever do move out of the city, it would be in Westchester, but one of the rivertowns. Some of them feel like an extension of Riverdale. Sleepy quiet towns and very hilly, but the views are amazing. I don't care for Long Island at all. The LIRR is horrible and overpriced. Not much better than the subway. I remember taking a trip out there to meet a client and thinking Jesus these trains are so f-ing old. I felt just like I was on a train and I think it was over $20 round-trip, just for the tickets. The taxi was another $30.00 to and from.

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What's fueling the ridership growth is increased service. In general, more trains mean more riders since there are more options, which is why service cuts should never be on the table (death spiral). 

 

Take for example the weekend service, which is very impressive nowadays. In the past few years, 30-minute headways have been installed on both the lower and upper New Haven Line, as well as both the lower and upper Harlem Line. The Hudson Line isn't too far behind, with 2 or 3 tph on its major stops. More convenient service is effective at drawing people out of their cars, especially since nearly all of Midtown and Lower Manhattan is a decently convenient subway ride from GCT.

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What's fueling the ridership growth is increased service. In general, more trains mean more riders since there are more options, which is why service cuts should never be on the table (death spiral).

 

Take for example the weekend service, which is very impressive nowadays. In the past few years, 30-minute headways have been installed on both the lower and upper New Haven Line, as well as both the lower and upper Harlem Line. The Hudson Line isn't too far behind, with 2 or 3 tph on its major stops. More convenient service is effective at drawing people out of their cars, especially since nearly all of Midtown and Lower Manhattan is a decently convenient subway ride from GCT.

A lesson Regional Rail down in Philly needs to learn...

 

Good point!

What's fueling the ridership growth is increased service. In general, more trains mean more riders since there are more options, which is why service cuts should never be on the table (death spiral).

 

Take for example the weekend service, which is very impressive nowadays. In the past few years, 30-minute headways have been installed on both the lower and upper New Haven Line, as well as both the lower and upper Harlem Line. The Hudson Line isn't too far behind, with 2 or 3 tph on its major stops. More convenient service is effective at drawing people out of their cars, especially since nearly all of Midtown and Lower Manhattan is a decently convenient subway ride from GCT.

A lesson Regional Rail down in Philly needs to learn...

 

Good point!

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What's fueling the ridership growth is increased service. In general, more trains mean more riders since there are more options, which is why service cuts should never be on the table (death spiral). 

 

Take for example the weekend service, which is very impressive nowadays. In the past few years, 30-minute headways have been installed on both the lower and upper New Haven Line, as well as both the lower and upper Harlem Line. The Hudson Line isn't too far behind, with 2 or 3 tph on its major stops. More convenient service is effective at drawing people out of their cars, especially since nearly all of Midtown and Lower Manhattan is a decently convenient subway ride from GCT.

That and the semi-express trains. In fact on weekends I purposely take those. It's great to get into GCT quickly.

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I would consider moving to Westchester County because of Metro-North service. Depending on the station I board from I can get better train service then I get in the North Bronx with a subway only walking distance away. 

Personally I would not, simply b/c I generally loathe the suburbs..... But its good they're making these improvements. If only NJT would follow (that WILL be the day :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: )

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A lesson Regional Rail down in Philly needs to learn...

 

Good point!

A lesson Regional Rail down in Philly needs to learn...

 

Good point!

 

And the LIRR! 

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Yup! If the LIRR had its way, it would be a system from Penn to Montauk (summers only, Babylon other times), Huntington, Hempstead, Long Beach and Ronkonkoma.

 

In all honesty though, once 3rd track and 2nd track are finished, the LIRR NEEDS to up its game on weekend/off peak service. They'll have no excuses for construction. They need to do more expresses, and frequent service on at least the above mentioned core system.

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All commuter service needs to be electrified, full-stop. Speonk, Yaphank, Port Jefferson, Oyster Bay. The speed improvements this would entail without even changing track configurations would probably be enough to end the dogpile onto faster Ronkonkoma trains that we see today. Stony Brook really needs hourly, or even half-hourly service.

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