The CTrail Hartford Line, a commuter train that launched in mid-June, saw about 69,000 passenger trips during its first six weeks of regular operation, state officials said Friday.
The train, which runs from New Haven to Springfield, logged 19,767 passenger trips between June 18 and June 30, and 49,300 trips in July, according to the governor’s office and the state Department of Transportation.
Those ridership figures are more than double the July 2017 ridership on the previous Amtrak-only service between New Haven and Springfield, a Friday news release said.
The Hartford Line opened June 16 with a weekend of free service that saw 21,850 individual passenger trips.
It began operating under its regular schedule and fare the third Monday of the month.
The past month has already brought several changes to Hartford Line policy.
When the Hartford Line began service, it was not providing any bathrooms on trains because of a complaint alleging that the lack of accessible bathrooms violated the rights of individuals with disabilities. But another complaint was later filed by a passenger with Crohn's disease, on “behalf of all individuals with disabilities who need sudden and/or unpredictable restroom access.”
That complaint led the Federal Railroad Administration to order CTrail to open one restroom on each train, a change that took effect Aug. 13.
Three days later, the state announced cyclists could start carying their bikes onto CTrail trains ahead of permanent bike racks being installed this fall. Only collapsible bikes are permitted on Amtrak trains.
And on Sept. 4, CTrail ended its free parking promotion at Hartford Line stations in Berlin, Meriden and Wallingford. Paid parking for rail riders is $2 per day or $20 for a monthly pass.
The DOT has said it will release monthly ridership data for the CTrail Hartford Line during its early operation before transitioning to less frequent reports.
Because the Hartford Line is serviced by both CTrail and Amtrak trains, the DOT measures ridership by counting passenger trips from both services.
Amtrak releases its monthly data to DOT six weeks after the end of each month, so ridership data for the month of August will be available in early October, DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker said.
The average weekday ridership on the Hartford Line is now at 1,860 rides.
The DOT hopes to increase that to 1,945 by the end of June 2019, and 2,223 by the end of June 2020.
The DOT’s goal for the end of the Hartford Line’s fifth year in operation is an average weekday ridership of 2,779 passenger trips.
“We are seeing not only strong demand for the service, but there has been a significant increase in economic development surrounding each station along the line,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. “As with any new rail line, it will take time to fully mature and become part of the everyday lives of the residents in the Central Connecticut corridor, but what we are seeing will be critical to our growth over the coming years.”