Number of N.Y. subway passengers rises significantly over past year

New York City reports that the number of passengers riding the subway has increased by 2.6 percent in just one year, which is more of an increase than the subway system has seen in 65 years.

The subway saw growth on every day of the week and every part of the day, but weekday growth was even higher, outside of the typical morning and evening commute hours.

This increase poses new challenges for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which must operate and maintain the system without causing crowding, delays or inconvenience. Typically, maintenance work was accomplished during non-peak hours, but now even those times are experiencing record rates of passengers.

This 2.6 percent amounts to 1.751 billion customers for the year 2014. Approximately 5.6 million passengers used the subway on an average weekday. Approximately 6 million passengers used the subway over an average weekend. This amounts to an increase of 132,000 riders than during the previous year, and a 500,000 passenger increase compared to the past five years.

At its busiest time, the New York City subway system had more than 6 million passengers over 29 weekdays in just the last four months of 2014. This is the highest level recorded since the subway boom after World War II.

“The renaissance of the New York City subway is a miracle for those who remember the decrepit system of the 1970s and the 1980s, but moving more than 6 million customers a day means even minor disruptions now can create major delays,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said. “We are aggressively working to combat delays and improve maintenance, but the ultimate solution requires investing in infrastructure upgrades such as Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signaling systems to accommodate every one of our growing number of customers.”

All boroughs and all lines have seen similar growth throughout the city. The highest percentage of growth occurred in neighborhoods where residents saw rapid population rises and residential development. Some of the most notable neighborhoods were Long Island City in Queens and Bushwick in Brooklyn.

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