For the first time since the pandemic hit New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) saw a ridership of more than four million commuters in one day.
The nation’s largest transit system recorded 4,002,961 paid rides on Thursday, April 20, according to a statement from Governor Kathy Hochul. The last time the subway carried more than 4 million riders was March 12, 2020, when 4.1 million New Yorkers rode the subway.
While the total figure remains well below the pre-pandemic weekday average of 5.5 million rides, it marks a milestone in the city’s recovery.
The subway’s contactless fare payment system OMNY also set a single-day subway record with 1,699,914 taps, accounting for 42.5 percent of all paid rides.
“The MTA is the lifeblood of this city, and New York State has made critical investments in our subways to improve the rider experience,” Hochul said.
“Surpassing four million riders for the first time since the start of the pandemic is a testament to the resiliency of New Yorkers and the importance of supporting the nation’s largest transit system,” she added.
According to the MTA’s budget report, fares make up a large share of the transit authority’s operating revenue. When the pandemic took shape in the city and ridership dropped, the MTA received temporary aid from the federal government to cover its budget gap.
“At the height of the pandemic, ridership dropped by 90 percent, but we kept the system running full tilt to ensure that essential workers could get to hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, and distribution centers,” MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said in statement.
The MTA expects to exhaust its federal aid as early as 2025, which could lead to a “$3 billion recurring budget shortfall,” its report notes. As a result, the transit authority said it is “exploring many options” to tackle the budget gap.
Photo: MTA on flickr