Caroline Cournoyer at Governing Magazine writes: Commuter Rail Ridership Declining Despite Increase in Lines:
“While the public may love the notion of commuter rail lines, they are perhaps the least popular form of transit for politicians. The subsidies for commuter rail are tremendous, says Michael Smart, a researcher with the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. A study of the Minneapolis Northstar line concluded that taxpayers were paying a subsidy (which included capital costs) of $89 per passenger. Other studies showed subsidies of much lower rates, but still significantly higher than those for bus or subway riders.”
The study referred to is this 2011 blog post. Northstar Ridership is of course up since the fares were cut by 25%. (In 2013 it was 787,239, up 17% … so ~700,000 riders pay less so that ~87,000 pay at all) I don’t think revenue is up, though the cost per passenger is of course lower.