When the MTA releases their annual breakdown of subway ridership by station, I tend to spend far too much time playing with these numbers. The new figures came out yesterday and are available here on the MTA’s website and here as a sortable Excel file. It is the stuff of what data dreams are made of.
We begin with the system’s most popular stations, and we see a newcomer in our midst. With construction impacting Fulton St., it slips to 11, and a Queens station — the Flushing-Main St. terminal along the 7 — enters the top ten. Considering how only one train services Flushing, that it cracks the top ten speaks volumes of that area’s growth. As good as the soup dumplings are, I don’t think 18.6 million folks are heading home from Joe’s Shanghai.
|Times Sq-42 St/42 St||58099313||58422597||0.60%|
|Grand Central-42 St||42002971||41903210||-0.20%|
|34 St-Herald Square||36945680||37769752||2.20%|
|14 St-Union Sq||34245245||34730692||1.40%|
|34 St-Penn Station||27196195||26892243||-1.10%|
|34 St-Penn Station||24182097||24265016||0.30%|
|59 St-Columbus Circle||20418815||20711058||1.40%|
|Lexington Av/59 St||18924005||19553597||3.30%|
The least popular stations too don’t often change that much. More people pass through Times Square in a day than visit the Aqueduct Racetrack all year, and the stations in the Rockaways don’t see much traffic in good times. That many were closed for renovations last year depresses ridership even further. Whitlock Ave. and East 143rd Sts. crack the list because they too were shuttered for renovations for much of 2010.
Not listed here is 21st St. on the G train. It wasn’t closed for construction last year and was just the 11th least used station in all four boroughs. Fewer than 320,000 straphangers passed through the station that is clearly visible from the G’s northern terminus at Court Square.
|Beach 105 St||58588||65802||12.30%|
|Beach 44 St||176647||143788||-18.60%|
|Beach 98 St||259501||215474||-17.00%|
|Aqueduct-North Conduit Av||249341||238119||-4.50%|
|East 143 St||239458||256277||7.00%|
|Rockaway Park-Beach116 St||267902||268625||0.30%|
While pure numbers validate our belief that one station is crowded while another is less so, the percentages are more interesting to explore. Has one station become more popular than another? If so, why? By and large, the ones listed in the top 10 became more popular because those nearby were closed. That’s why a bunch of stations along the 6 in the Bronx, the A in the Rockaways and the Brighton Line in Brooklyn saw big increases in ridership last year.
Only one station along the L line — Morgan Ave. with 20 percent growth — made the top ten cut, but the rest of the L train stations throughout Williamsburg and east into Bushwick showed strong across-the-board growth. Michael Grynbaum speculated that gentrification is the cause of the uptick in ridership. Bedford Ave. is now the 46th most popular station around. Of note too was the West 8th St./New York Aquarium stop which saw an increase in straphangers of over 11 percent.
|St Lawrence Av||1284770||1655340||28.8%|
|Beach 36 St||263693||326592||23.9%|
|Lexington Av-63 St||3989743||4889704||22.6%|
|Castle Hill Av||2036025||2345255||15.2%|
And finally, we arrive at the losers. Below are the top ten stations that saw major declines in ridership. For this chart, I omitted most of the shuttered stations along the 6 and A because the declines were drastic. Whitlock Ave. was closed for most of 2010, and it saw ridership drop by 66 percent. If the turnstiles aren’t on and the trains aren’t stopping, it’s going to be hard for passengers to find their ways on board.
The remaining declines paint an interesting picture of a train in trouble. Many of the G train stations are bleeding passengers, and it’s hard to explain why. Broadway, for instance, saw a 10 percent dip in ridership. Maybe more straphangers who would have ridden the G to Court Square to transfer to the E simply find it convenient to take the M into Midtown. Myrtle-Willoughby and Nassau Ave. too though are losing passengers at a brisk rate.
Other stations can trace their declining numbers to the service cuts. With M trains no longer heading throughLower Manhattan and along 4th Ave. in Brooklyn, Broad St. saw its ridership decline. I do wonder why the JFK stop at Howard Beach saw a seven percent dip in traffic as well.
|East 180 St||2049824||1852836||-9.6%|
|Howard Beach-JFK Airport||976481||908576||-7.0%|
Anyway, that’s your peek at the way we rode in 2010. Make of it as you will. It’s certainly one way to analyze the ever-changing demographics of New York City.