Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

Moderator: Liquidcamphor

  by Tommy Meehan
The dwindling ridership in the 1950s is in keeping with what happened with all the suburban passenger railroads, plus the subways and buses. They really got hammered during off-peak and weekends. If you go back and read the history, the War was over, the economy was booming and everyone had a new car. That was the story in the 1950s, people wanted to pile everyone into the car on weekends and go drive!

Long Island especially went car-crazy. Anyone remember the comedian Allan King? He used to have a whole routine about all the driving and drivers.

Then the LIRR had a couple of bad wrecks in 1950 and that must've hurt. Governor Thomas Dewey empaneled a NYS Commission to investigate the railroad -- that led to the Pennsylvania RR allowing the road to resume independent operation -- so there was an avalanche of bad publicity.

The MTA-LIRR have really done a great job in reversing this trend I think. The ridership was steadily increasing until the current recession hit and I'm sure will recover once the economy starts to grow again (which it seems to have begun to do).

I'd be willing to bet that once service to GCT starts in 2016 the railroad will gain many many new riders. If the Midtown Direct-Secaucus Transfer service is any indicator, I'd bet there will be a big big increase in offpeak and weekend ridership too.
  by keyboardkat
Well, Tommy, you've left out the 12-year redevelopment plan under state law, 1954-1966, which brought about tremendous improvements in equipment and service. Under this plan, for twelve years the railroad paid no taxes; localities assumed the costs of maintaining stations, and there were to be no profits: Any surplus funds were required to be ploughed back into the railroad for improvements. Under the state car program, 222 new air-conditioned cars were bought (the P-72 and MP-72 fleet), later supplemented by the 30 air-conditioned American Flyer cars bought from the B&M; older cars were refurbished with improved lighting, seating and ventilation; maintenance was much improved as well. This resulted in the railroad achieving the best on-time record of any NY-area commuter road for several years running, and this was achieved with older cars and locomotives. There was some real pride in the railroad in those glory days. The Cannonball ran with an FM C-Liner on the point, an open platform observation on the rear, and a number of surpluss PRR heavyweight parlors, and new P-72 coaches in between.

As 1966 and the end of the plan approached, it became clear that the railroad could never be completely self-sustaining and thus could not return to private operation. This resulted in the creating of the MTA, then called the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority. Upon the state takeover, service deteriorated for a while as the new M-1 cars, bought without sufficient prototype testing, began laying down on the job.
  by Tommy Meehan
keyboardkat wrote:Tommy, you've left out the 12-year redevelopment plan under state law, 1954-1966, which brought about tremendous improvements in equipment and service.
I didn't leave it out keyboard, I was responding to Tim's finding that, at least according to Moody's Manual for Investors, ridership fell by close to 30% during the Fabulous Fifties.
timz wrote:1962 Moody's says 69.1 million in 1961-- that's the newest I have at home. You'd think the enormous increase in population would more than balance out the parkways and LIE, but apparently not.
I guess Tim could've added, you would think the 12-year redevelopment plan would also have balanced out the ridership drain but it apparently didn't. It helped LIRR hold onto riders, I'm sure, but sadly the overall decline continued.

That's why I didn't mention it. :)
  by timz
118.9 million in 1929, 118.2 in 1930. Less in 1924 and 1926.
  by M&Eman
Resurrecting an old thread here. Peak LIRR ridership was in the 1920s before the IND Queens Boulevard Line opened. Service within Queens was at essentially rapid-transit like levels and the riders that would soon switch to the subway were still using LIRR trains.
  by ekm
Can anyone tell me where to find the old ridership records for the LIRR for the 20s, 30s, 40s documented?
  by Kelly&Kelly
I have them. What specifically do you need and for what purpose?
  by nyandw
Kelly&Kelly wrote:I have them. What specifically do you need and for what purpose?
I would put them in a table with perhaps a bar/line graph to go with it for the website. Let me know. Thank you.