It is the biggest single source of revenue for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), with almost half of its $3.6 billion in annual revenue coming from rail and bus routes, the transit agency said Thursday.
“The transit agency is a big player in the metropolitan area, and Metro’s rail and transit ridership growth over the past few years has been the biggest growth,” said MTA President David Samson.
“It’s an area that Metro is increasingly focused on.
We know how important it is for riders to get to and from work, and the more they do that, the more we can get done.”
Metros ridership rose by almost 3 percent last year to nearly 8.1 million, and by 3 percent in 2016 to nearly 9.4 million.
That was well above the 2.3 percent increase that ridership was up in 2014, when MTA began adding buses and trains.
But it is still way below the 7.4 percent growth seen between 2013 and 2016.
The MTA has seen a steady increase in ridership since it began implementing a network of bus rapid transit lines in the 1970s, but that growth slowed in the 1990s and 2000s.
It also has seen the growth of its own commuter rail system, but its ridership has been growing slower.
Metro also has to make up for lost revenue from bus services that have closed or reduced service, such as Amtrak.
The agency says it will invest about $5.2 billion in the next 10 years to extend and expand its rail and other rail service, which will also be funded by the new money it receives from federal funding.
That money will go toward adding more buses, trains and track.
The MTA also will be investing $1.8 billion in new bus rapid bus service.