Subway Ridership Tracks New York's Job Rate, Data Shows

Monday, May 30, 2011

Despite increases to subway fare three times in as many years, ridership continues to rise in what history shows could be an indicator of an improving economy, according to MTA data.

New Yorkers faced a 17 percent fare hike last December — one of the biggest ever — but, with the exception of the blizzards in January, subway ridership has risen every month since, according to MTA data obtained by WNYC.

Ridership typically tracks employment, the MTA said, meaning that when the job rate goes up, so do the number of straphangers.

In 2008, after a nearly 7 percent fare increase, subway ridership went up nine months in a row. The opposite happened in 2009, when the recession moved transit use downward.

Unlike the subway, buses have had a dwindling number of riders in recent years. And after the largest bus route cuts in a generation last June, even fewer city residents have been riding buses. 

(Data in above WNYC infographics courtesy of MTA)


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