LIRR Long Beach Getaway Package Ridership Numbers on a steady decline since 2010

I friend of mine (and reader of the blog) sent me the following email regarding LIRR Long Beach Getaway Package Ridership Numbers (link) which he got from the MTA customer service dept.  As you can see on the chart below, July 2014 really took a hit, as the overall number of LIRR Long Beach Getaway Package Ridership Numbers is on a steady decline from 54,048 in 2010 to 47,284 in 2014.

From our city’s website:

“A LIRR Getaway Package entitles you to: • One-day round trip train fare. • Discounted daily beach admission. • Free Long Beach bus service • Discounts on food & drinks at local restaurants. • Hours of fun in our beautiful “City by the Sea”.

Is it the economy? more competition? higher prices? the weather? or do people just not like package deals anymore? Here is the original email with the numbers:

I received the following info on the LIRR Long Beach Getaway Package Ridership for 2014.  It shows a modest drop of almost 500 less riders this summer as compared to 2013 and still down almost 3,250 from 2011 and almost 7K from 2010.  I wonder if the “tourism” outreach to Manhattan was worth it.

Hard to see what if any impact the tourism push had, or does the weather dictate the usage?  Still very weird that we are down 6700+ over past 5 years.  Maybe the $12 cost adds up?  Same ticket to the Rockaways costs $5.00 for a round trip metro card vs $22 for LB, that $17 is a dinner and beer.

Year       June         July         August    TOTAL
2014     11,011  17,307  18,966  47,284
2013     10,139  21,606  16,029  47,774
2012     9,264     21,904  17,356  48,524
2011     6,318     32,384  11,830  50,532
2010     7,834     26,683  19,531  54,048
 
PLEASE NOTE: These are only the numbers of people who bought the package and not overall tourists. Also, August 2011 we had a big rain storm, followed by Hurricane Irene.
 

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47 thoughts on “LIRR Long Beach Getaway Package Ridership Numbers on a steady decline since 2010”

  1. That doesn’t exactly mean fewer people are coming to the beach. It means fewer people buy those specific tickets. Market those tickets better and those numbers go up.

  2. So between 2012 and 2013 we had a shortfall of 750 LIRR Getaway Riders. Multiplied by $12.00 is a $9,000 loss. According to the Newsday article reviewed here http://www.seabythecity.com/?p=24304 in 2013 alone, four LB Beach Maintenance supervisors were collectively paid $415,451 in overtime. I imagine if we were living deep in the Okefenokee Swamp the question would go something like this – Golly! How ya suppose we gonna make up fer dat dare loss, Boss?

  3. Well I’ve seen the people arriving on weekend mornings and it’s quite a lot. Most seem to head straight to the beach and bypass the shops.
    And I took the train into the city one afternoon and it was packed with beachgoers all the way to Penn Station.

  4. Most people in the city have no idea where Long Beach is. As soon as people hear Long Island, they stop listening. No matter how far it is/isn’t – they assume it’s going to take a long time.

    It’s significantly cheaper and easier to go to a city beach; so even if 2 or 3 people are down for a subway to LIRR to LB, it’s hard to convince everyone; so they wind up going to a city beach.

    LB is safer, cleaner, better. Etc, but there’s a ton of rules, it’s expensive and not so convenient to get to. LB has a lot more amenities as far as a beach town is concerned, but where is a city tourist going to put all of their stuff to enjoy it?

    But at the end of the day, it’s the price. Having lived in the city and LB I know this to be true.

  5. It’s always a balance between the residents desire to have more beach space vs. the economics of the city. Raise our out of town beach rates = less people visiting. Revenues for the city rise slightly until it hits a tipping point of less visitors equaling smaller revenues. What it means is business must make up their losses in revenues; the city must make up their losses in revenues… So in the end the residents of LB will pay higher prices and higher taxes…city management needs to be savvy when passing policies that seem good in the short term and enhances their electoral security and instead look long term in their governing decision masking; decisions that benefit our community. Long Beach after all is The City By The Sea…not Washington DC.

  6. Looking strictly at the numbers; with exception of July, the rest of the months have done fine. July has tremendous fluctuation and is the single reason for the decline over the years. We should examine the reasons for this. Have we experienced bad weather days in July over the past 3 years? Are we competing against other venues/beaches in July? What is it about July??

  7. Our weather last July wasn’t great. It rained on July 4th and other days that week. Remember how the various Fireworks Shows in the area got rescheduled? And a couple of weekend days in July, it rained early, then cleared up beautifully in the afternoons. Then we could all “run” down to the beach and think “how lucky we are to live here, the City folks would never come here this lousy morning.” Plus, I think many the weekend days, it rained on one day of the weekend. Thanks @Zeronski for pointing out how you can’t just look at raw numbers without checking out the circumstances that influenced them.

  8. Bob, I totally remember us having some bad weather mornings in July. It is possible we’ve been experiencing this trend the last couple of years. It would be interesting to see if this is the case. Again, June has actually done incrementally better over the years.

  9. I think this is great news. I never could understand why we give a discount to Manhattanites for visiting our beach! Why should someone from Long Beach pay $12 and the out-of-towner pay less? It is unnecessary. I lived in Manhattan for years, and I can tell you that paying a couple dollars less to get on this (or any) beach was never the deciding factor as to whether I went to Long Beach, Jersey Shore or the Hamptons. The Getaway package is an unneccessary give away to non-residents.

  10. DGATB, How do you feel about the businesses in LB that get discounted beach passes for their “clients”. I don’t believe the city has ever given a public accounting of which businesses receive these discounts and what if any financial sense giving these discounts makes to the residents who pay full price.

  11. DGATB, why is someone from long beach paying $12? Didn’t they get their season pass for $50 or something? Depending on when it was you used to live in Manhattan, the costs of traveling on the LIRR and getting on the LB beach have gone up considerably. I think people do take this into consideration.

    We’ll see how many people come when the main part of the beach is turned into a iStar construction zone. You might not be able to give the beach away.

  12. This is just a theory and I don’t have any stats to back it up, but I live on Riverside, close to the beach, and I’ve noticed a pretty solid increase in the amount of ZipCars parking around my house. I usually assume those are people coming in from the city. So maybe the price of renting a ZipCar is cheaper/relatively close to the LIRR package and it’s more convenient then sitting on those crowded trains coming out here?

  13. Here’s some pretty darn close numbers – Lifeguards $1.4 million, Beach Maintenance $ 1.8 million (not including last years 1/2 million in OT), Beach Pass Sales $2,700,000. Throw in other associated costs for sanitation, police, etc and then add to that the OT, healthcare, pensions and the list goes on. Conservatively speaking, the beach loses anywhere from 1/2 to 1 million+ a year. So at $12 a head we need somewhere between 45,000 and 85,000 additional people a summer just to break even. What does a zip car seat, about 3 adults? What’s 25,000 or so zip cars a summer, a minor inconvenience, right? I’m not sure what is more unbelievable, the fact that people will look up archival weather reports for LB before they read the out-of-control City budget, or the fact that I still question that they do.

  14. Anyone who goes out in town in the summer knows that weather completely determines business around here. On the other hand, many of us who have read the budget know it’s full of misrepresentations. About 10 years ago I first heard that the City loses money on every beach admission. At the time, I could find nothing “in writing” to support or refute that. Still can’t. I think the method to “throw in other costs” is no better than the City’s smoke and mirrors financial calculations.

    It’s what’s not in the budget that’s remarkable. We had about $150 million approved for us from FEMA to restore local health care. Our politicians (including the Governor) just gave that money away. That money sure could have covered a lot of the money wasted on beach expenses, etc.

  15. The way to get more people to take the train, and raise money for the City as well (as you point out, the City loses money on the beach) – is to end free parking on residential streets for non residents in the summer months. Want to park for the beach – buy a $75 season street parking pass. Otherwise take the train, or pay a parking ticket. LB is the only residential beachfront community that allows free parking on the street to anyone who shows up and can find a spot. That’s why fewer people take the train, because residential street parking is wide open and free.

  16. @sam – first off, lb isn’t the only beach community that does that, and where would guests of residents park? “Bbq at my place – just bring yourself and $75 for a parking pass.”

  17. West End Tom, suggest you look at the Albany Residential Parking Permit rules (ecode360.com). They establish residential Parking zones with rules that respond to the most common concerns with such a system, e.g. by establishing Visitor Parking Permits and also allowing up-to-2-hours parking for others (deliveries, short visits etc.).

    Long Beachers could benefit significantly from improved parking rules, and additional parking spaces. But, we require either an energized City Council and/or an energized electorate to put this in place.

  18. I can’t invite anyone to my home for a BBQ on a summer weekend – there is no place to park. At least with a guest pass park system, even if I had to pay a reduced fee for a pass as a resident, it would be better than the system we have now.

  19. @Ed Glister – Hmm, I don’t know – it said only one guest parking pass could be given at a time. Also, it seemed suspended on the weekends, and only between the hours of 8AM and 6PM. Also, it seems like this was more for a government office area, and not a retail area.

    I hate to be pessimistic, but I tend to think the parking issue will never be solved in LB. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know why its so tough – why not build a garage, sell/rent spots, next to the LIRR and run regular buses all over town?

    Definitely not trying to turn this into a parking solutions thread…

  20. West End Tom, agreed that we shouldn’t turn this into a parking solutions thread, even though most Long Beachers, their visitors and commercial establishments agree that parking is a major problem.

    I’m troubled by your pessimism, since it seems to be contagious. We need more optimism, saying “yes” to solutions…otherwise the past will be our future.

    In a separate thread I’ll comment on potential parking solutions.

  21. I do not understand this ceaseless fixation that people have with bringing more and more people to Long Beach.What the hell is it? Are you bored looking at the same old faces? I personally don’t care if another person from Queens or Brooklyn learns to surf and I also don’t care if some half-baked business venture with a bad business model right from the start goes under. The only reason I might care is that homeowners would then have to shoulder more taxes to pay for our operating costs. Which brings me to my point – Control the damn runaway spending. But noooo.Don’t even go down that road. The administration knows there is a finite amount of people getting off that train every summer. We’re not even covering the operating cost of the beach in a good year. Not by a long shot. The desperate approach is to allow for more housing. The Superblock, now the Hospital grounds are flipped to a developer, and soon every other build-able lot. No one is really leaving altogether because the parking sucks. You’ll go when it’s unaffordable.They have no intention of renegotiating salaries and overtime and expenditures. Jam in the housing, increase the tax base, make it look like things are really happening, and fool the dopey masses by announcing Arts Councils, Holidays lights, Sustainable Long Island bulls%#@ community meetings. Stop worrying about declining Getaway Package sales and open your eyes, Take the time and energy to extrapolate forward 8 to 10 years of increasing school and property taxes, flood insurance rate increases and then ask yourself who’s at the helm of this sinking ship and should you be heading for the lifeboat. The tax burden on businesses is what’s killing them, I just read that a real Long Beach centric, community advocate, AOH’s 2013 Man of the Year in Long Beach, and local surfer, (one of the owners of Swingbelly’s) packed it in for Virginia Beach). It speaks volumes.

  22. This City administration has spent years and tons of money promoting Long Beach to outsiders. Obviously it hasn’t worked. If this were private industry Gordie,Kerry,and a host of others would be looking for jobs.

  23. In a dense area like LB parking should NEVER be solved. It has to remain dificult on some level, Ed. Its not pessimism, its concern for human space, lives, quality of life, health, environment…

    Parking is not the problem- entitlement to easy, free + front door parking space at all times of day is the problem. People advocating for free and easy parking which incentivizes driving is the problem.
    Comparing Albany to LB doesn’t work.

  24. Beside the beach, there is nothing else to do. There is nothing on the boardwalk and from what I hear, restaurants are going to start closing. I figure people are going to Jones Beach, Brooklyn or the Rockaways. Very sad.

  25. @CAVE – you nailed it. Someone needs to explain how LB is on a sustainable track, and if it’s not (which seems more like it), they need to say what the strategy is.

  26. @Allison B – the biggest incentive for driving is also being able to get to work to make money. You’re right; with incentives like that, driving will be a problem for a long time.

  27. I have stated again and again that I really don’t understand why the city feels that bringing more day people to LB is better for the city.

    The beach operates at a loss so it would take a huge influx of people just to plug that hole but wouldn’t that influx also increase the cities costs (more life guards, more trash to clean, more summer specials)?

    Other than a few business owners and to a lesser extent their employees, how does the money these people spend help the city’s coffers and ultimately the taxpayers? We don’t get any piece of the sales tax these people pay.

    The real estate taxes on these businesses don’t change if business is booming or vacant. It could be argued that without these visitors the businesses would close but I think as has been stated by others you need to have a good business plan to make it work and if the rents are too high for business to succeed maybe rents will go down as a market system dictates.

    As far as the beach concessions go how much does that bring the city versus the businesses running them?

    I will admit that I am probably being self serving in this belief in that I like LB for myself, my friends and family. But how exactly is all of this marketing to day trippers and visitors helping the average taxpayer? I’m willing to listen but I just don’t get it or don’t see it.

    Please someone enlighten me if I’m missing something.

  28. Of course you are correct – tourism only helps business owners in LB, at the expense of resident taxpayers’ quality of life. But a majority of LB residents have fallen in love with the idea that LB is a “resort town”, and even though it lowers their quality of life and raises their taxes, they feel compelled to accommodate the ever growing needs of the tourists. They elect people who reflect that view, and that’s that. The bar owners and business owners are laughing all the way to the bank, as the tourists dump their trash in the gutters and malls in front of my house every weekend in the summer, and vomit in people’s yards and cars in the west end, while they walk off with the profits from selling them booze and food, and the City hands us all the bill to cover the losses on the beach fees every year. But hey, I’m a pessimist I guess – just float a new bond and build some new stuff along the oceanfront for the tourists to enjoy.

  29. Shocker: the beach is a tourist destination. I don’t think most residents necessarily want LB to be a resort town, but they want more to do than get their nails done, eat a slice of pizza or “eat fresh” at a Subway.

    I don’t think the businesses owners laugh all the way to the bank – a lot of them live locally and feel the pressure of LB politics, nuisances, etc.

  30. “Other than a few business owners” No, try ALL business owners, unless you can point out a business other than one supermarket, two diners, three bars and four nail salons that could sustain a profit with strictly locals only frequenting them 365.

    And then what will happen is the residents who will actually continue living here with no economic vibrancy whatsoever will complain that the food sucks, the market is dirty, the diners are overpriced, we have no good restaurants and the nail salons are overcrowded. Because who seriously wants to live in an intensely dense population with nothing? Do you? That’s fine- you can do that and move to a 3rd world country because you won’t find a densely populated location in this country without shops seeking profits. Oh, and economic opportunity. Where are your kids working, eh?

  31. AllisonB,

    This whole bring tourists to LB is a new phenomenon. There were plenty of successful business here before it began. That seems to be everyone’s question, why is this happening, why is the city spending money on it now?

    The city’s population has always ballooned during the summer and for some business has always boomed in summer and yes the summer season is what makes them profitable. Most residents have an influx of friends and family in the summer that has always been a staple of the summer season and they tend to have more respect for the town and its people versus the littering, puking, disruptive day trip crowd. I have been in long beach over twenty years and there has always been a supermarket and bars and restaurants, some have been successful some have not, that is business.

    LB is not the Jersey Shore, Hamptons, OuterBanks, Cape Cod, VA Beach or any other shore town that people come to and stay for a week or more and the economy is truly based on that tourist dollar and the incomes it generates for its residents and the town.

    We are a vibrant city/suburb and a bedroom community where most residents work in the city or other parts of the island. We don’t have vacation rentals, for the most part we don’t have hotels, motels or bed and breakfasts that generate any real revenue for the city in the form of an occupancy tax and as I have stated we see no portion of the sales tax collected being paid directly to the city.

    So why do we suddenly need to bring more people here all summer long?

    How many people come to LB to get haircuts, get their nails done, buy insurance, get a tattoo, go to the gym, buy a home, build/rennovate a home, hire an attorney, architect, doctor, CPA or other professional, get their dry cleaning/laundry done, Etc. Etc. Etc. These are all local businesses that gain nothing from a day tripping tourist crowd.

    How about the homeowners who pay in excess of $10K a year in taxes to have someone piss/puke on their front lawn, park in their driveway, litter the streets, fight in the streets and wake them up in the middle of the night as they stagger home from the bars at 4AM.

    There are more people who pay taxes here than those bars and restaurants that profit from the tourist crowd, why are they forgotten and their interests not looked after, because again how does the bloated profits of a small number of businesses justify the aggravation as well as the added expenses in the form of extra police, sanitation and other city services these extra people require and whose cost is spread out among all the taxpayers of the city.

    In closing I am not against these businesses making money, they have for years, and yes some have come and some have gone but that is how business especially the restaurant/bar business works. What I am against is the city feeling the need to first spend money on marketing to bring more people and the extra spending that requires, to the benefit of only a few but the cost is spread out to the masses.

  32. I don’t see why “tourism” and quality of life must be mutually exclusive.

    I think there’s a way to balance people coming in from out of town and not peeing and throwing up on your lawn.

    There’s no shortage of places that achieve this.

  33. @West End Tom, your choice of what criticism of the day-trippers to focus on illustrates either you don’t understand what is being said, or you directly benefit from their influx.
    I think what really gets under the skin of taxpaying residents, like MeinLB and others, is that the City doesn’t function for us in direction proportion to what we pay to live here or the services provided to visitors. While the roads crumble, guns are being fired, drugs are being openly sold, and visitors disrespect our properties, we simultaneously read in Newsday about a slew of $250,000+ policemen, and $150,000+ (each) in overtime for multiple Beach Maintenance directors. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. When one considers that we have a police commissioner who is paid more than the commissioner of the NYPD who is responsible for 34,000 uniformed officers and a budget of $4.6 billion, you start to wonder why the hell you subject yourself to it. Oftentimes, just when you’re asking yourself that question, City Council announces the roll-out of a campaign to bring more people to the beach. And here again, we don’t see the value added. What we do see, is additional cost burden and disruption to the people that live here. City Council, is either engaging in a masterful ruse of smoke and mirrors, or they are just too unqualified or too self-serving to care how to fix things. MeinLB laid out many of the problems with the influx of people and associated costs. There is really no value added to our existence in Long Beach with this attempt to crowd the place. The only plan I can see is that they intend to house more and more people on top of each other some 18 stories in the air and increase the tax rolls.

  34. @cave – nah you’re wrong on both counts about me. I’m just not as hopelessly pessimistic as you; nor do I confuse my pessimism with realism.

  35. That’s hilarious Tom, What are you suggesting then? That you confuse your optimism with reality? I think your bucking for some kind of Long Beach Ambassador sash so you can direct our “visitors” where to pee.

  36. @CAVE…::eye roll:: I think there’s a way for LB to handle tourism and not having people pee and throw up on their lawns. I’m sorry that you view everyone that steps off the LIRR as a potential public deficator. (Though I’m not convinced it isn’t LB residents also doing it).

    If that’s confusing optimism with reality, I guess I’m guilty of that. Theres no shortage of tourist destinations much larger than LB where this isn’t a problem.

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