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Report: Sinking economy cost MTA 75 million customers

Large drops in ridership driven by the struggling economy cost the Metropolitan Transportation Authority more than $100 million in the first 10 months of 2008, according to a state comptroller's report released Thursday.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in the report that 75 million fewer customers used the MTA's various transit agencies from January through October of 2009 as compared with the same period in 2009.

The biggest drop occurred on subways, which lost 44 million riders in the first 10 months of last year compared with the same period of 2008 - a decline of about 3.2 percent.

Four million fewer riders used the Long Island Rail Road during those same periods, according to the report.

The LIRR had record ridership in 2008, and grew 4.1 percent in the first 10 months of that year as compared with the first 10 months of 2007. But ridership dropped by 5.5 percent in the first 10 months of 2009.

DiNapoli attributed the sharp decline in transit ridership to the 110,000 jobs lost in New York City between October 2008 and October 2009.

"The MTA is vital to the strength of the regional economy - and the health of the economy has a huge impact on ridership," DiNapoli said. "People don't commute when they're unemployed."

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