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More Than 2.3 Million New Yorkers Chose to #TakeTheTrain On a Single Day Last Week

Updated May 24, 2021 8:30 p.m.
Sunrise in Sunnyside

Subway, LIRR, Metro-North, MTA Bridges and Tunnels Reach Pandemic Records as Regional Reopening Continues


LIRR Surpasses 110,000 Riders; Metro-North Reaches 94,500


Pandemic Record Coincides with Subway Resuming 24/7 Service, MTA’s #TakeTheTrain, #TakeTheBus Campaign


MTA New York City Transit officials today announced that on Friday, May 21, more than 2.3 million New Yorkers rode the subway, another pandemic-era ridership record for the subway, that comes just a week to the day after subway ridership hit the 2.2 million milestone. Ridership also hit pandemic-era records on the Long Island Railroad, which carried 110,100 customers on Friday, May 21, and Metro-North Railroad, which carried 94,500 customers on Saturday, May 22. Vehicular volumes on MTA Bridges and Tunnels also reached a pandemic-era high on Friday, May 21, with 965,528 vehicles using the nine crossings, the highest number since Feb. 14, 2020.

Friday’s subway ridership was 2,330,089. There were also 1,182,899 bus trips and 4,258 Staten Island Railway trips on May 21, for a total of 3,517,246 trips taken that day on New York City Transit.

“It is great to see ridership continuing to trend upward as the system returned to 24/7 service and the region has reopened,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President, MTA New York City Transit. “This new record shows people are returning to their everyday lives and returning to the subway for their commuting needs. There is more progress to be made, more milestones ahead, but we are very encouraged to see this trend continue into the summer.”

“As more and more of our customers come back, they will find a railroad that’s ready for them to return,” said Phil Eng, President of MTA Long Island Rail Road. “With seasonal summer service starting this month, we are looking to continuing ridership growth. From our real-time capacity tracker that lets you find seats on an approaching train before it arrives, to unprecedented levels of cleanliness on cars, the LIRR is ready to welcome you back.”

“We are pleased to see so many riders returning to Metro-North, and it is not a coincidence that our busiest day has been a beautiful Saturday with great weather,” said Catherine Rinaldi, President of MTA Metro-North Railroad. “Leisure and discretionary travel are among our strongest market segments right now because Metro-North is not just for commuters. It’s for anyone looking for an affordable, easy, convenient way to get around the region.”

“New York is back, and so is the traffic,” said Daniel F. DeCrescenzo Jr., President of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “Traffic has reached the highest single-day level in 15 months. Remember, you can always do your part to reduce congestion by taking the train or the bus where you need to go.”

The new record comes as the subway system returned to full overnight service and the Authority launched its robust #TakeTheTrain, #TakeTheBus campaign to welcome more riders back to mass transit.

The MTA has undertaken unprecedented cleaning and disinfecting protocols in the year since the pandemic began to ensure the system as safe as possible for its customers. The Authority has also rolled out robust public education campaigns and issued millions of masks to its customers. Mask usage in the system remains high, with more than 98% of customers wearing a mask when riding mass transit. The MTA also enhanced its Live Subway Map to allow riders to find vaccination sites throughout the city.

Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals routinely exceeded 5.5 million in the subway system. That figure fell by more than 90% to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips last April as the number of COVID-19 cases peaked in the New York City area. Daily bus trips at that time were down close to 75% from pre-pandemic figures and fell to approximately 600,000 bus riders per day. New York City Transit employees continued to provide service for the frontline healthcare professionals and other essential workers who needed to get to work during some of the most troubling days in New York City history.