New York City subway and commuter rail set passenger records from COVID-19 era

More people rode public transit in the New York City area Wednesday than any other day since the COVID-19 pandemic began, transit officials said Thursday.

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

“Passenger numbers are coming back. In fact, ridership is increasing, 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. “This is the first time we have reached this level and it is the highest since March 2020, the onset of COVID.”

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

City buses set a daily passenger record on Tuesday – 1.5 million passengers.

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

MTA CEO Janno Lieber explained that the passenger numbers were "heaving" at a press event.
MTA CEO Janno Lieber explained at a press event that ridership was “increasing”.
YouTube / MTA

The federal government has contributed $15 billion, but officials have warned the system will need more money if ridership doesn’t improve.

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

Lieber on Thursday acknowledged that remote work had hurt the MTA’s long-term finances, but said rising ridership was cause for optimism.

MTA trains
The MTA’s budget has been hit hard by the sharp drop in ridership since the pandemic.
Getty Images

“I worked at the World Trade Center for 14 years, so most of my professional life I’ve heard New Yorkers — not New Yorkers, but lots of other people — write New York’s obituaries,” he said.

“We at the MTA are here to prove them wrong.” New York City subway and commuter rail set passenger records from COVID-19 era


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