THE BRONX, New York (WABC) -- It's likely that many New Yorkers feel like they've ridden the subway billions of times.
On Tuesday, the MTA rewarded its billionth customer.
"'Congratulations, you're the one billionth customer in the MTA,' and I was like, 'Is this for real?'" subway rider Sasha Salazar said.
Salazar is one in a billion. The one rider who put the transit system over the top on Tuesday, with the subways and buses chalking-up one billion rides in 2022.
"Thank you to everybody who has been riding with us all year, especially lucky Number 1 Billion, Sasha Salazar!" MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said.
Salazar was given the ceremonial distinction as the one billionth rider of 2022.
She was stopped as she entered the subway at the 161st Street station in The Bronx this morning. She was headed downtown to see the movie Avatar. She received a $100 transit OMNY card, free membership in the Transit Museum and a framed work of subway art.
"I woke up this morning just thinking I'm gonna head to the movies and I see two men, 'Congratulations!' I was just so shocked and surprised," Salazar said.
The MTA measures riders by Metrocard swipes and credit card taps, and has not logged one billion rides since 2019. It is a pandemic milestone for the agency, which has been struggling to attract riders despite hybrid work schedules and rising rates of violent crime.
"A big milestone, a positive milestone, much better than last year, much, much better than 2020 and a sign of progress as we move forward into what we hope will be an even better year," Lieber said.