NYC subway, commuter rail set COVID-19 era ridership records

NYC subway, commuter rail set COVID-19 era ridership records

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More people rode mass transit in the New York City-region on Wednesday than on any other day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, transit officials said on Thursday.

Subways, buses, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road all set single-day pandemic-era records, MTA CEO Janno Lieber said during an afternoon announcement at Grand Central Terminal.

“Ridership is coming back. In fact, ridership is surging, and that’s an indication that New York is coming back strong,” Lieber said.

“Yesterday, the subways carried more than 3.7 million people,” he said. “That’s the first time we hit that level, and it’s the highest since March of 2020, the beginning of COVID.”

The 5.6 million people who took public transit on Wednesday included the 3.7 million subway-riders, as well as over 384,000 Metro-North and LIRR commuters, the MTA said.

City buses, meanwhile, set a daily ridership record on Tuesday — 1.5 million riders.

The ridership boon is good news for Lieber, whose $19 billion-per-year annual budget has been starved by low ridership.

MTA CEO Janno Lieber declared that ridership is "surging" at a press event.
MTA CEO Janno Lieber declared that ridership is “surging” at a press event.
YouTube / MTA

The federal government chipped in $15 billion, but officials have warned the system will need more money if ridership does not improve.

Wednesday’s 3,742,475 subway trips reflected just 62.9% of pre-COVID ridership, according to MTA figures.

Lieber on Thursday acknowledged that remote work had made a dent in the MTA’s long-term finances, but said increasing ridership was cause for optimism.

MTA trains
The MTA’s budget was hard hit by major drops in ridership since the pandemic.
Getty Images

“I worked on the World Trade Center for 14 years so I have heard New Yorkers — not New Yorkers, but a lot of other people, generally — writing New York’s obituary for almost my whole professional life,” he said.

“We at the MTA are here to prove them wrong.”

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