(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Even though the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority raised subway fares three times in the past three years, subway ridership is on the rise. That may be a sign of an improving economy.
New Yorkers experienced a 17 percent fare hike last December, one of the biggest ever. But except for a slight dip during the January blizzards, subway ridership has risen every month since, according to data given to Transportation Nation by the New York MTA.
The authority says subway ridership tracks employment -- when the job rate goes up, so does the number of straphangers.
In 2008, after a nearly seven percent fare increase, subway ridership went up nine months in a row. The opposite happened in 2009, when the recession moved transit use in one direction: downward.
Unlike the subway, New York's buses have seen dwindling numbers of riders in recent years. And after the largest bus route cuts in a generation last June, even fewer city residents have been taking the bus.
The ability of straphangers to absorb yet another fare hike will be tested next year, when the New York MTA is set to raise fares again by 13 percent.