Report: Drop in off-peak subway service disproportionately hurts lower income riders

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Marcus Solis has the details on the report on off-peak subway service. (Shutterstock)

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a report on off-peak subway service Friday that he says reveals a new, less visible but deeply alarming aspect of the MTA subway crisis.

The report, called "Left in the Dark: How the MTA is Failing to Keep Up with New York City's Changing Economy," illustrates that while commuting patterns across New York City have changed, subway service has not.

According to the report, despite 57 percent of all job growth in the last decade happening in the healthcare, hospitality, retail, restaurant and entertainment industries, MTA subway service has failed to adapt to spiking ridership among those who don't work a traditional 9 to 5. These massive drop-offs in after-hours service affects lower-income, New Yorkers of color, and immigrants most.

The analysis claims New York City's millions of service sector workers are being left in the dark by a subway system that isn't just deteriorating during rush hours, but fundamentally failing to meet the needs of those who commute early in the morning and later into the evening.

The healthcare, hospitality, retail, food services, and entertainment industries account for 40 percent of private sector employment in New York City. According to the report, the MTA routinely added trains in the early morning to keep up with increasing ridership until 2010. Since the Great Recession, however, the report says while ridership continued to surge between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., the MTA did not respond accordingly, leaving riders to wait longer periods for trains that are more crowded.

According to the report, those departing for work during "traditional" hours (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.) have very different economic profiles than "non-traditional" subway and bus commuters. New Yorkers commuting between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. earn $7,000 less than their rush hour counterparts and are more likely to be foreign born, a person of color, without a bachelor's degree, and working in the service sector.

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