(Bloomberg)—New York City subway stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn are seeing a boost in ridership as more workers return to offices and students head back to school.
Subway usage at Manhattan’s Grand Central and Penn Station is up about 15% since May, Janno Lieber, chief executive officer at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said Wednesday during a monthly board meeting. The MTA, a state agency, oversees the city’s subways, buses and commuter rail lines.
The shifts imply that companies’ efforts to get workers to come back to the office for at least part of the week after the US Labor Day holiday are having their intended effect. Subway usage reached 3.76 million on Tuesday, the most since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to Lieber. For all of 2019, average weekday ridership was about 5.5 million.
“Most of the recent ridership surge is a tribute to white-collar workers returning to their offices more frequently along with tourism and school reopenings,” Lieber said during the board meeting.
Some stations in lower Manhattan and central Brooklyn are seeing a 20% to 25% increase in ridership since May. Usage at the Howard Beach subway station at JFK airport is up 25% during that period, Lieber said.
The MTA, the largest public transportation provider in the US, is working to bring more people back to its system as many people embrace a hybrid work pattern of home and office.
Safety is a major concern for riders as there have been 373 reported assaults on the subway in 2022 through the end of August, the most since at least 1997, according to MTA data. The MTA plans to install more than 6,400 cameras in subway train cars by 2025 to help reduce crime.
The MTA needs more riders to improve its finances after the pandemic decimated ridership and revenue. The transit provider faces an estimated $2.6 billion operating deficit in 2025 and is seeking additional state funding to help resolve its projected budget gaps.
“We’re going into a new fiscal year and what will be for the MTA, a historic legislative session,” Lieber said.
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