Subway ridership reaches 37-year high

By · Published in 2007

Subway ridership by month, 2005 and 2006. (Source: NYCT Performance Indicators)

The F train is too crowded; there’s no doubt about that. While we’re content to blame bad scheduling and unannounced service cuts, subway ridership numbers are contributing to the overcrowding as well.

After decades of declining ridership numbers, the number of straphangers has shot up over the last few years, and 2006 was no exception. In fact, subway and bus ridership numbers are at a 37-year high, and the city could see record ridership levels sometime in the next decade. Crain’s NewYorkBusiness.com reports:

Annual ridership on subways and buses rose to 2.2 billion, a level not seen since 1969, when 2.3 billion rides were recorded, MTA officials said on Friday…

In 2006, there were 1.5 billion trips on New York’s subways. That’s up 3.4% from a year earlier and the highest since 1952, when 1.55 billion trips were made. Average weekday subway ridership rose 2.7%, to 4.9 million, the most since a 1953 when 4.99 million trips were reported.

So trains are more crowded, and the MTA is not increasing service. In fact, while New York City Transit officials won’t confirm this, most riders feel that subway service has actually declined this year with the F and L trains serving as the biggest examples of this.

It’s all a matter of economics really as Newsday reports that the average paid fare is just $1.29, a far cry, inflation-wise, from the five cents charged in 1904. The MTA may simply have to raise the fare again to meet service and maintenance demands.

Meanwhile, as Crain’s reports, 30-day unlimited MetroCards make up nearly 30 percent of all MetroCard sales. While these discounted MetroCards are driving more commuters underground, they are money-losers for the MTA. If people are paying less per ride, the MTA simply cannot capture the same revenue.

So here’s the tradeoff: Would your rather have cheaper subways and questionable service levels or a slightly more expensive train ride but more frequent subway service?

Categories : MTA Economics

4 Responses to “Subway ridership reaches 37-year high”

  1. wayne's world says:

    To a point, I’d pay more for more frequent service.

  2. Todd says:

    I highly doubt that me paying more would better my service. Look at how overpaid the MTA employees are. Their union assures that they can do as little as possible and still be paid more then they deserve. If (when) fares increase, the money will go somewhere other then more frequent trains.

  3. Rya says:

    evidently, we are getting robbed in dc.


  1. […] So there you go. If the subways seem crowded, it’s because they are. And if this sounds familiar, well, just check out the news from February about 2006. […]

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