Brooklyn Boro

Subway, commuter rail lines break COVID-era ridership records

But they're still less than half of pre-pandemic totals

June 23, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The New York City subway, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad broke pandemic-era ridership records on consecutive days last week, the MTA, which administers all three, announced on Tuesday. 

While the number of trips starting in Manhattan has declined since 2019, the number of trips starting in Brooklyn has increased every year since then.

However, combined subway and bus ridership, more than 3.7 million per day, is still less than half of pre-pandemic levels. Before the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals in the subway system alone routinely exceeded 5.5 million. On the other hand, the number of cars going over nine city bridges and tunnels is almost 100 percent of numbers taken before the pandemic.

The subways broke records on three consecutive days last week, carrying 2.52 million riders on Wednesday, June 16; 2.55 million on Thursday, June 17; and 2.57 million who rode on Friday, June 18. 

The Long Island Rail Road likewise set records for three consecutive days last week, carrying 119,205 riders on June 16 and then 121,580 on June 17 before carrying 122,848 riders on June 18. One of the LIRR’s three western terminals, as readers know, is at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues in Downtown Brooklyn.

In a testament that transit ridership is happening in tandem with increasing traffic volumes, MTA Bridges and Tunnels also shattered its own consecutive records last week. The MTA’s network of nine bridges and tunnels carried 973,485 vehicles on Thursday, June 17, and 989,296 on June 18, the highest that figure has been since the start of the pandemic — 96.4 percent of the comparable pre-pandemic figure.

“The subway’s ridership return continues to gather momentum,” said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of MTA New York City Transit. “The subway is essential to New York, and higher ridership is the surest sign of New York’s post-pandemic recovery.”

Demetrius Crichlow, executive vice president of subways for MTA New York City Transit, said, “As traffic congestion returns to the streets and the temperatures rise, riders will appreciate the speed and comfort of travel on the subway now as much as ever.”

“More customers coming back to the LIRR is a vote of confidence in the strides we have made to improve service reliability, system cleanliness and availability of real-time traveler information,” said Phil Eng, president of MTA Long Island Rail Road. 

“We do our best to keep our customers safe and traffic flowing smoothly at our facilities,” said Daniel F. DeCrescenzo Jr., president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “But with traffic at nearly 100 percent of pre-pandemic levels, it makes good sense to ride NYC Transit or the railroads.”


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