The MTA is on track to reach a milestone in the coronavirus pandemic: a day the subway carries one million riders.
What You Need To Know
- Phase 2 of the city's reopening begins Monday, bringing more riders into subways and buses.
- Weekday ridership has rebounded to nearly 950,000 people from a low of nearly 366,000 on April 13.
- MTA expects to cross its on -million daily rider threshold in first week of the next phase of reopening.
After bottoming out at on April 13 at nearly 366,000, weekday ridership has rebounded more than 150 percent, to nearly 950,000 people, thanks to straphangers like Deidre Johnson, a physical therapist who started riding the subway again three weeks ago to see patients.
“I was a little nervous," Johnson said. "But I felt that the train was actually better than the bus. Buses tended to be more crowded."
That is likely to change Monday when New York enters the second phase of its reopening, easing more restrictions on businesses and activities, which will bring more riders into the subway.
“I’m just going to keep my mask on and to keep as much space between me and others as possible," Johnson said. "If I have to let trains go by, I’ll let trains go by.”
"I'm seeing more riders every day and that’s the counts that we’re hearing from NYC Transit, which is a good sign," MTA board member Andrew Albert said.
Albert credits transit officials for the ridership that has returned.
“It means all of the cleaning and the new technologies that the MTA is doing, handing out masks and sanitizers, it’s making people feel comfortable that they can return to the system," Albert said.
Riders say they notice a change for the good, like train cars that smell better and have spotless floors. And they say the extra space they've enjoyed on their commutes so far has put them at ease.
"It was empty, absolutely empty, it was very comfortable," said one commuter. "Right now, it's getting a lot busier."
"For now, I really don't have any problem," said another rider. "They keep distancing, social distancing, but I don't know in the future weeks, when we have Phase Two, it's very hard."
At the end of the city’s first phase of reopening, subway ridership has beat the MTA’s best projections on the number of passengers returning to the system.
Now, as the city enters its second phase, the MTA expects that rebound to continue, to more than a third of pre-pandemic levels.
"The best way to make sure that we can still maintain some level of physical distancing is if we have high frequency on our subways and on our buses," said Nick Sifuentes, director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
The MTA expects to officially cross the million rider threshold next week. There is still a long way to return to normal: an average of 5.5 million straphangers every weekday.
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