Subway Ridership Hits New Peak For First Time During Pandemic

The warmer weather this week may have lured New Yorkers out of their winter lairs and into the subways. The MTA said subway ridership on Thursday was the highest single day total since the pandemic began, with 1,863,962 paid trips taken.

There were an additional 1.13 million daily trips recorded on MTA/NYCT buses, putting the systemwide trip total at around 3 million for the day. The increase in ridership may reflect New York’s slow reopening and ramped up vaccination efforts.

“We are thrilled to see so many New Yorkers returning to the system after the most challenging year in New York City Transit history,” said Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg in a statement Friday. “Make no mistake: we still have a long way to go, but the progress we’ve made in bringing riders back is significant. We will continue to do everything in our power to get New Yorkers to vaccination sites and we are hopeful that more and more of our customers will return to the system in the weeks and months to come.”

Thursday’s ridership is still a small fraction of the pre-pandemic daily ridership which regularly exceeded 5 million rides per day, the MTA said: “That figure fell by more than 90 percent to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips last April as the number of COVID-19 cases reached their apex in the New York City area. Daily bus trips at that time were down close to 75 percent from pre-pandemic figures and fell to approximately 600,000,” the agency said in the statement.

Americans are also returning to the skies in greater numbers now — the Transportation Security Administration screened 1,357,111 passengers at airports across the country Friday, CNN reported, the highest number since March 15th, 2020.

The subway system still remains closed from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily for cleaning though with the signing of the $2 trillion federal stimulus package, which includes $6.5 billion allocated for the MTA, transit advocates are calling for a return to full 24-hour subway service, and for the MTA to restore any pandemic-era cuts. But the round-the-clock service could return, MTA officials said this week.

“We’re looking forward to bringing back 24-hour service as soon as we can,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said Monday.