Home MTA Economics From the ‘I have eyes and ride the subway’ department: The subways are very popular

From the ‘I have eyes and ride the subway’ department: The subways are very popular

by Benjamin Kabak

transportationgraph.jpg

An excerpt from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s report.

The subways are crowded. This much we know from riding the trains everyday and also from past stories about the MTA’s tooting its own popularity horn.

Today, from a report issued by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, we learn that, yup, those subways are indeed still crowded. You don’t say?

According to this grand survey of New York City transportation sources (PDF file here), New York City Transit ridership averaged 4,928,222 people a day during the first quarter of 2007. That figure represents a 3 percent increase over the same quarter in 2006.

More impressive is the March total: 5,096,905. For the first time since the 1950s, as I’ve noted before, ridership has exceeded that 5-million-a-day mark. That means that well over half the population of the city swipes through the subway’s turnstiles each day. While I know that five million New Yorkers are not making one trip each on the subway every day, the numbers are comparable. And not matter how you slice or dice it, that’s a whole lotta people. So if the subways seem crowded, it’s because they are.

To slam home this point with a sledgehammer, the NYMTC reports that 51 percent of New Yorkers using public transportation turn to those lines run by New York City Transit. In other words, the majority of the area’s public transportation trips now take place in the subways.

With these crowded subways, of course, comes a familiar drum beat to those of you who are regular readers around here. The MTA has to find a way to meet the demands of a growing readership. They need to make sure they have enough working train cars to keep up with heavy transit loads. They have to make sure that areas of the city with growing populations are adequately serviced by mass transit.

Now more than ever, this city depends upon the subways to run. Without a functioning and fully funded subway system, this city would see a very real economic downturn. Hopefully, this doomsday scenario won’t come to pass. For now, we should — outside of rush hour, at least — basque in the glow of our popular and efficient subway system.

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7 comments

Streetsblog » Today’s Headlines September 14, 2007 - 8:48 am

[…] This Just In: The Subway Is Popular (Second Ave Sagas) […]

Reply
franklin September 14, 2007 - 9:53 am

just a word of caution about your logic.

5-million-a-day mark riders does not necessarily mean that – “well over half the population of the city swipes through the subway’s turnstiles each day.”

if we assume that on average each individual makes and work-bound and then home-bound trip – then half of these rides are made by the same people – thus only 2.5 million people are taking the subway to work.

in addition – some large number of subway riders are not city residents. i do not have the numbers on this, but many people take other forms of transit into Manhattan and then switch to the subway.

Reply
Benjamin Kabak September 14, 2007 - 10:16 am

Frankling: The next sentence in that paragraph reads, “While I know that five million New Yorkers are not making one trip each on the subway every day, the numbers are comparable.”

Thus, it’s an analogy and I’ve already qualified what you wrote in that comment.

Reply
Chris H September 14, 2007 - 1:49 pm

Its interesting how ridership on the rail system has surged, but there has been a slight decline in ridership on the buses and ferries.

Reply
Quinn Hu September 14, 2007 - 2:46 pm

1 million of those people are on the 4,5, & 6 so you really need the Second Avenue Subway. Now also the Queens Boulevard Line (E,F,R,V) really needs a counterpart too. Can someone focus on Queens right after the SAS is set in complete motion. For example give service to Bayside, College Point. Try using LIRR service by making it only $2 in NY everyday. That will ease crowding on the other lines.

Reply
Chris H September 14, 2007 - 6:37 pm

LIRR has the highest ridership of any commuter rail line in the country and is already pretty crowded during peak. Commuter trains are not meant to carry as many people as rapid transit (hence no straps). Capacity is also maxed out at Penn. Maybe (maybe) after ESA opens, it might be possible to reduce LIRR fares within the city but for now, no dice.

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Chris H September 14, 2007 - 6:57 pm

I should qualify that. I have never been on the Port Washington Branch, so I don’t know what the ridership there is like.

The only other possibility for reducing fares are for trains headed to Long Island City/Hunterspoint and Atlantic Terminal from Jamaica. I don’t know what their ridership is like, but I imagine it is less than trains headed to Penn. NJT charges less to go to Hoboken than Penn and it would make sense for LIRR to do so as well.

Atlantic Terminal has a lot of people destined for lower Manhattan, but it doesn’t take you there directly.

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