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MTA Subways and Buses Set New COVID-Era Single Day Ridership Record on Tuesday

New York City Transit
Updated September 15, 2021 3:15 p.m.

Nearly Three Million People Rode the Subway Yesterday, Shattering Previous Pandemic-Era High Set Monday

Between Subways and Buses, New York City Transit Surpassed 4 Million Mark for First Time Since Before Pandemic

Commuter Railroad Ridership Continues Upward Trajectory As Well


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that the New York City Subway set a new pandemic-era ridership record yesterday, for the second consecutive day. The subway system carried just over 2.9 million customers yesterday, breaking the previous pandemic-era high of 2.76 million who rode the system the previous day. In addition to the strong subway totals, MTA and New York City Transit buses carried some 1.31 million riders yesterday. The combined subways and buses total of more than 4.2 million represents a one day pandemic-era record for New York City Transit ridership. In addition to the encouraging totals on subways and buses, both commuter railroads moved more than 100,000 customers yesterday. The news comes just days after the Authority formally launched “Welcome Back New York,” a robust public messaging campaign aimed at urging New Yorkers to return to the system.

“This is amazing news,” said Acting MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber. “New Yorkers are resuming all sorts of normal activities. They’re going to restaurants, they’re going to ballgames, they’re returning to school.  And they trust the MTA to get them where they’re going. The system is safe and prepared to welcome back even more customers in the days and weeks ahead and I fully expect we’ll continue to set new ridership records in the days and weeks to come.”

“The pandemic-era records we’ve seen the last couple days speak to 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. “We’ve seen four straight weekday ridership records on New York City Transit and I’m hopeful we can surpass the Yankees recent win streak of 13. We will continue to work tirelessly to make sure New Yorkers and visitors to the city return to mass transit. It really is the best way to get around.”

“I’m incredibly encouraged by the recent increases in ridership,” said MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer. “As more and more New Yorkers continue to return to work and school, I’m confident that ridership will continue to increase. Public transit remains the best way to get around New York City and returning customers will be greeted with an improved system. Welcome back!”

More than 120,000 customers took Metro North on Tuesday, the second-highest day of the pandemic. The previous high of over 122,000 came on Monday. LIRR ridership reached just under 145,000 on Tuesday, the third highest day of the pandemic after setting a record of nearly 151,000 on Friday, Sept. 10, and then recording just under 148,000 on Monday.

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 robust public education campaigns and issued millions of masks to its customers. The MTA is hosting public vaccination hubs at Grand Central and Penn Station.

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 last April 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.