With vaccination rates up and infection rates slowly falling, New Yorkers are feeling more at ease with the idea of returning to their pre-pandemic habits. This sentiment might be best reflected in subway ridership, as the MTA reports that 1,863,962 paid trips were taken Friday, March 12, a pandemic high that surpasses the previous record of 1,857,822 trips seen October 15th. The bus system, too, saw a spike of approximately 1.13 million additional daily trips recorded Friday, bringing trips taken systemwide to just under 3 million for the day.
The increase in ridership, coupled with the recently-passed $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package that includes $6.5 billion in MTA funding, will certainly bode well for the MTA, and the city at large, as the agency has been contemplating whether or not 24/7 services should be restored due to plummeting ridership and increasing costs. Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals routinely exceeded five million in the subway system. That figure fell by more than 90 percent to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips last April as Covid battered the city.
"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. "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."
The MTA will continue to carry out its current cleaning and disinfecting protocols and require that customers wear masks when riding mass transit. Special bus routes have also been created in Queens and Brooklyn to help New Yorkers get to vaccination sites more easily. The MTA also debuted an updated subway map last week that helps riders find vaccination sites near subway stops. These COVID-related measures will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.
- Related news: NYC transit developments and improvements coming soon