Another year, another ridership record in the subway, but that level of success is also creating headaches for riders and a transit agency struggling to keep up with the crowds. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Squeeze in, straphangers. Subway ridership is on the rise again.
"It's crowded, constantly," said one subway rider. "You just won't get a seat."
The MTA on Monday announced that 1.7 billion riders packed into the subway last year, an increase of 0.9 percent, the highest level since 1948.
Weekday ridership averaged 5.7 million, but on 49 days, more than 6 million people used the subway, compared to 29 days in 2014.
Officials said the additional riders are putting new stress on an already-strained system. Even a minor disruption can now trigger major delays, and maintenance work is getting ever tougher to schedule.
"Historically, we try to do work during the off-peak hours. But we're seeing a bump in off-peak hours as well," said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.
Ridership grew in every borough served by the subway, led by Brooklyn, where it increased 1.4 percent. Rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods contributed to the gains.
On the G line, ridership surged 8.9 percent weekdays, including a whopping 17-and-a-half-percent jump at the Greenpoint Avenue stop in Greenpoint.
After years of galloping growth, ridership on the L line ticked up by less than 1 percent, but the number of passengers using stations on the nearby J and M lines in Bushwick soared.
"It looks like those customers are slowly shifting over to the J, M and Z lines, using that line as an alternate to the L," Ortiz said.
Riders on the M say they've noticed.
"It's almost like a little bit claustrophobic, you know," said one M train rider.
In Lower Manhattan, ridership grew by nearly 4 percent. The new Fulton Center hub is now the city's eighth-busiest station.
In spite of the increased pressure on the subway system, MTA officials say they're confident that measures they're taking to increase capacity will lighten the load on riders in the future, like finishing the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway and upgrading signal technology on some lines so trains can run more frequently.
"You know, we're not going to stop growing. We'll continue to build and grow out as ridership increases," Ortiz said.