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

Updated October 29, 2021 8:30 p.m.

Combined MTA Agencies Top 5 Million Riders on Oct. 28 


New Bulk Sale MetroCard Program Aims to Help Employers Incentivize Workers Returning to the Transit System 


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced new pandemic-era ridership records on the New York City subway, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro-North Railroad. Para-Transit customers also booked a record number of trips. 

Subway ridership topped 3.3 million riders for the first time in the pandemic at 3,359,115 on Oct. 28 (rolling over the previous record set the day before by 60,000 riders) and exceeded 3.2 million on three of the last five weekdays, notably Oct. 22 through 28. 

Bus ridership continues to be strong with just under 1.5-million riders three days in the last week. Paratransit customers continue to return to the system booking a record 24,814 trips on Thursday, Oct. 28. The Staten Island Railway set a record with 7,594 riders on Thursday, Oct. 28. 

"We’re thrilled to welcome more and more customers back to a system that’s cleaner and better than the last time they rode it," said MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer. "With our 24/7 disinfecting program, contactless OMNY fare payment on subways and buses, and off-peak fares all the time on LIRR and Metro-North, there’s never been a better time to ride with the MTA. Welcome back, New York!" 

“We are seeing that New Yorkers’ confidence in our system is growing daily as they return to the subways, buses and para-transit in record numbers,” said New York City Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano. “New York City Transit is proud to be a part of the city and region’s recovery and we will continue to do everything we can to keep everyone safe and on time to work, school and all of the exciting things that New York City has to offer.”  

The continued strong showing by the commuter railroads illustrates that the MTA is officially back on track and fueling the region's revival. The LIRR had another record setting week carrying a record 159,574 customers on Thursday. 

Metro-North continues to rebound setting another record of 132,171 customers on Thursday, Oct. 28. The railroad topped 125,000 riders three of the last five weekdays. 

“Metro-North continues to set ridership records on a regular basis and we are overjoyed to be part of the Hudson Valley and New York City’s continued revival,” said Metro North President Catherine Rinaldi. “Metro-North provides customers the fastest and safest way not only to get to work, but also to get to fun Fall activities like apple and pumpkin picking, color changing leaf-viewing, hiking and Halloween parties. As ridership numbers rise, Metro-North will continue to deliver.” 

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

The recent ridership records come a few weeks after the Authority formally launched "Welcome Back New York," a robust public messaging campaign aimed at urging New Yorkers to return to the system. As part of the MTA’s campaign, the Authority announced this week a new MetroCard Bulk Sales program to give employers and large philanthropic organizations the ability to seamlessly purchase large volumes of MetroCards that they can efficiently distribute to their employees or to organizations that assist New Yorkers in need, encouraging all to return to the mass transit system. 

As riders return to the system, the MTA’s world-class contactless payment system, OMNY, makes traveling simple and easy, and has proven to be popular with a large portion of the system’s ridership. Notably 25% of New York City Transit customers pay for their rides using OMNY. 

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.