For the second straight day, the MTA set a pandemic-era subway ridership high, as the daily number of commuters inches toward 4 million for the first time in more than two years.
Approximately 3.875 million people rode the subway on Sept. 21, adding 100,000 rides to the previous pandemic-era record set the day before. Wednesday also saw a pandemic-era record 204,600 Long Island Rail Road commuters, 600 more than the previous record set on Sept. 7.
MTA officials touted the straphanger surge as a sure sign the city’s getting back to normal after more than two years of COVID-19. Still, ridership remains about two million shy of the pre-pandemic daily record, which exceeded 5.5 million.
“Busy trains are a sign that the city is returning to a sense of normalcy,” said New York City Transit Senior Vice President of Subways Demetrius Crichlow. “Mass transit is the fastest and easiest way to get around the city, and we’re seeing more and more people learning that every day. Riders are showing they’re confident in the subway system to get them where they need to be.”
There was even more good news for the MTA, as its contactless fare payment system, OMNY, recorded a record 1,445,000 taps on Sept. 21, also a record. Last week, the system counted its 500 million tap.
The MTA credits its fare-capping pilot for helping to encourage more commuters to use OMNY, as each week, riders who tap the system for 13 rides can get every additional ride made that week free.
The authority hopes to get even more riders back underground by reinforcing a sense of security. Earlier this week, Governor Kathy Hochul and MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber announced that every subway car will be equipped with two security cameras, with installations expected to be completed by 2025.