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Testimony to NYC Transit- Transit Ridership & The Need for Increased Off-Peak Service

By Bradley Brashears, PCAC Associate Director

July 25, 2022

Good morning! I’m Bradley Brashears, Associate Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC).

First, we appreciate the revamped Transit Committee book with a new look and focus on service and other metrics that directly impact riders. Making MTA data more accessible and digestible is an important part of better equipping riders, advocates and all stakeholders with the tools we need to fight for a better transit system alongside you. We look forward to seeing more creative implementation of the MTA Open Data law in the coming months.

As 2022 progresses, it’s clear that subway ridership is plateauing. But while weekday ridership struggles to climb past 60% of pre-pandemic levels, weekend ridership continues to be encouraging. The weekend of July 16-17, subways saw nearly 80% of pre-pandemic ridership, a pattern that continues to unfold around the transit system. Even as many New Yorkers commute to work less, they still take transit for elective trips—seeing friends and family, running errands, or for other activities like the Subway Series (which would be even more convenient with an accessible Mets-Willets Point station)!

We’re confident that weekend ridership would only continue to increase with better off-peak service. This doesn’t mean taking away rush hour service on weekdays, when New Yorkers still depend on our subways and buses, but instead, reducing the often 15-minute headways riders experience on weekends. Making sure that riders who choose to take transit on weekends and nights have a fast and efficient trip will be key to keeping them on board in the coming weeks and months. We know this will take long-term, recurring sources of operating funding, and we’re committed to fighting for the state and federal action needed to make it a reality, without service cuts or fare hikes. Now more than ever, transit is an essential service that should be funded as such—especially as a larger percentage of commuters depend on transit to get them to jobs supporting our other essential services.

These new ridership patterns may be here to stay, and it’s important that the MTA and our City and State governments adapt to our new reality. Millions of riders still need transit to get them where they need to go, and they need funding for the MTA to deliver reliable service.

Thank you.