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NYC subway ridership dips after record highs

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Ridership declined slightly from April through July, compared to the same time last year

Have you experienced a less crowded morning commute in the last few months? Statistics from the MTA seem to suggest that might be the case with ridership levels on a slight decline since April this year, the Wall Street Journal reports. Despite reports of overcrowding and the highest ridership levels since 1948, the number of riders on the subway has declined from April through July this year, compared to the same time last year.

For instance in July, there was an average weekday ridership of 5.4 million. That’s about 1.8 percent less than July 2015. The weekend trips were down by 3.5 percent in the same month.

A spokesperson for the MTA, Kevin Ortiz, told the WSJ that the declines weren’t of particular concern, and that biggest revenue season was October through December.

But that still begs the question of why? The WSJ posits that it could have been the longer Fourth of July Weekend. The New York City Comptroller’s office says it might be a slowdown in the rate of job growth in the second quarter. And the MTA says it could be repair work relating to superstorm Sandy (for weekend ridership).

In August, the revenue was 1.1 percent below what was forecast, according to an MTA budget update from last week, which the agency itself has attributed to lower ridership, as the WSJ points out.

Usually the agency blames lower ridership on rains or long weekends, but this past May, lower revenues on a particular Sunday were attributed to a five-borough bike tour and nice weather, which the agency said wouldn’t normally impact the number of commuters.

Data hasn’t yet revealed if this has to do with an increase in Citibike or Uber (or other car service) users, and there hasn’t been an impact on the overall revenue for the year so far. It’s important to note that ridership in January and February this year exceeded levels from the same time last year.