The NYC Subway's Uneven Recovery

As subway riders return in fits and starts, some stations are experiencing a much faster recovery than others.

January 26, 2022, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Crowded Subway Platform

Joe Tabacca / Shutterstock

New York City's subway riders are coming back, but the return has been uneven across the city's boroughs. Michael Gold, Ana Ley and James Thomas explore the differences in ridership patterns in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Stations in lower-income areas in Brooklyn, Queens and Upper Manhattan, where residents are less likely to be able to work from home and typically depend more on public transit, have rebounded far faster than stations in office-heavy sections of Manhattan, including some that were once the busiest in the system, where many workers are still able to work remotely.

The system's low ridership numbers put it in the same difficult position as transit agencies around the country that are struggling to continue serving transit-dependent riders while dealing with labor shortages and slashed revenues.

The article details the experiences of riders at three different stations. The daily commute never stopped for many essential workers at the Junction Boulevard station in Queens, where ridership was back to 74.2 percent of pre-pandemic levels by November 2021. Meanwhile, ridership at Manhattan's Wall Street station, one of the system's lowest, remains at a dismal 37.5 percent of 2019 levels. The article notes that the drop in commuters has deeply affected the small businesses that depended on white-collar workers, while some riders avoid the eerily empty subway because of safety concerns, an issue the city is trying to mitigate with more visible patrols and PR campaigns.

Monday, January 17, 2022 in The New York Times

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