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MTA Announces New Pandemic-Era Ridership Records on NYCT Subway, LIRR, and Metro-North

Updated October 22, 2021 9:00 p.m.

Subways, Buses, and Commuter Rails Combine to Surpass 5 Million Daily Riders


Strong Growth Seen in Paratransit Bookings


OMNY Use in Subway Tops 25% Of All Payments


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced new pandemic-era subway ridership records on the New York City Subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.

Subway ridership continued a robust recovery with daily ridership surpassing 3.1-million riders for three consecutive days (Oct. 19-21) with a new pandemic-era record set on Thursday, Oct. 21 of 3,264,278.

Staten Island Railway ridership continues its upward trend averaging more than 7,000 weekday riders six of the last eight days with a pandemic-era record 7,490 on Thursday, Oct. 21.

“These ridership records are really encouraging,” said MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Life for New Yorkers is getting back to normal. People are going to Broadway shows and sporting events. They’re eating at restaurants and are back at school. They trust the MTA to get them where they’re going. The system is safe and prepared to set new ridership records in the weeks ahead.”

“As we continue to set pandemic-era records, it validates the tremendous efforts our employees have undertaken to make sure the system is safe and accommodating for our customers,” said New York City Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano. “The City’s recovery is going strong and I’m so happy that New York City Transit is playing large part in it. We will work tirelessly to encourage New Yorkers and visitors to return to mass transit. It really is the best way to get around our hometown.”

Paratransit customers are fueling a ridership rebound as well by booking an average of more than 24,000 weekday rides, which is 80% of pre-pandemic ridership.

The continued strong showing by the commuter railroads illustrates that the MTA is officially back on track and is leading the region's revival.

The LIRR topped 150,000 riders per day Monday, Oct. 18 through Wednesday, Oct. 20 carrying a record 155,242 customers on Wednesday.

Metro-North carried a record 131,127 trains on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Average weekday ridership has averaged approximately 125,000 since early September.

“As the recovery of New York continues, Metro-North is thrilled to be an integral part of bringing people to all of the exciting activities that the Hudson Valley and New York City have to offer,” said Metro North President Catherine Rinaldi. “Metro-North provides the fastest and safest way to travel, and the continuing jumps in ridership show that our customers have confidence that we will deliver.”

The total of NYCT Buses and Subways combined with the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad is now regularly surpassing five million weekly riders. 

As riders return to the system, they’ve discovered that the MTA’s world-class contactless payment system, OMNY, makes traveling simple and easy and is very much the desired mode of payment. Usage is up in the last year from 7% late summer 2020 to 25% in the same period this year.

The MTA has undertaken unprecedented cleaning and disinfecting protocols in the year since the pandemic began to ensure that the system is as safe as possible for its customers. The Authority has also rolled out public education campaigns and issued millions of masks to its customers. 

Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals routinely exceeded 5.5 million in the subway system. That figure fell by 95 percent to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips in April 2020 as the number of COVID-19 cases peaked in the New York City area. MTA 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 difficult days in New York City history.