Article From the Winter 2005 Issue of


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation


We’ve experienced lower attendance throughout the past year, and the final tally for 2004 reflects this trend. Total headcount for the year was 3,773, a full 34% reduction from 2003. This was an across-the-board hit, as weekday group tour headcount dropped by 24% to 1,168. Even more significant, mid-May through October summer Sundays—traditionally when more people attend in order to enjoy track car rides and RGVRRM—suffered a reduction of 40%. Group tour attendance in the summer season was off by 21%.

Our membership count has never been greater and we’ve been making encouraging progress on many fronts, with a new substation soon to come on line, a new car barn built with track 2 under construction, new exhibits, some significant restoration progress on P&W 161, and the imminent recovery of another 100-year-old Rochester streetcar body, to mention just some of the highlights. Our publicity efforts included a broad array of outlets including our website, newspaper listings, area summer guides, and coupons.

A series of rainy Sundays certainly contributed to the drop-off in attendance, but we’re not going to just keep our fingers crossed for better weather in 2005. NYMT and RGVRRM have both agreed to budget $500 each to provide funds for advertising and public relations that will increase awareness

of our operation. We also are counting on completion of the substation and trial runs of trolleys to provide newsworthy activity, and if we can start trolley rides for the visiting public, so much the better. In the fall we gained publicity from the news about Rochester streetcar 1402 emerging from its 70-year life as a cottage, and we were featured in a new "Bright Spot" column on the Democrat & Chronicle editorial page. As we’ve done for several years now, Bring Your Own Train will be the feature attraction of a winter visit to the museum, and if the snows aren’t too deep, this unique offering will continue to bolster our off-season headcount.

Preliminary numbers show Gift Shop sales holding up well. Total sales were down, but not as much as the headcount, so on a per-visitor basis the shop sales rose to $1.47 per visitor from $1.08 in 2003. Income other than admissions and Gift Shop (membership, donations, etc.) was down 6% from the year previous. Total expenses were up 16%, due in part to ever-increasing insurance rates, and costs associated with railroad and substation construction, and a new corridor roof.

Our volunteer hours took another jump in the past year, to a total of 8,582, an average of 245 hours per volunteer—15% more than last year, and a new record! We’ll do everything we can in 2005 to reward that kind of commitment with more public awareness and increased attendance.

    2005 group tours are off to a good start as Leary Elementary
    School students inspect snow sweeper C-130 in early January.