Despite the increase in ridership, the numbers are still lower than pre-pandemic levels. Before the pandemic began, more than 5.5 million New Yorkers commuted on the subway on weekdays.
Ridership had stagnated from this summer. From early June to September, MTA metro ridership fluctuated between 53% and 58% below pre-pandemic levels on weekdays. Ridership during the pandemic generally did better on weekends, falling to 35% and 45% below pre-pandemic levels of 3 million average runners on Saturday and 2.4 million average runners on Sunday.
“We are now approaching halfway,” said Danny Pearlstein, director of political communications at the Riders Alliance, a transit advocacy group. “When New Yorkers need to get somewhere on time and in person, they use public transportation heavily.”
Some public transport experts believe that the surge of 150,000 metro passengers between Monday and Tuesday bodes well for the agency’s fortunes during the school year.
“The ridership means, as expected, there was a post-Labor Day rush,” said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the MTA’s Standing Citizen Advisory Committee. “People are going back to work, school and the way of life they gave up 18 months ago.
The MTA commissioned a study last year from consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which found ridership would only rebound to 80% to 92% of pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
“There’s a long way home,” Pearlstein said. “All estimates are that even in a few years we will not be where we were before the start of the pandemic. “