NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- While still not at pre-pandemic levels, subway ridership continues to set new high watermarks in the push to return to normalcy.
Subway ridership on Wednesday topped 3.6 million, breaking a previous record set just the day before on May 17, of 3.535 million.
Additionally, on Tuesday, May 17, pandemic-era ridership records were set on both the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, with the LIRR recording 182,700 rides and Metro-North 162,100.
Each of these figures surpass pandemic-era records set in the past several weeks, and are the highest totals since March 2020.
"This week, New York reached a milestone in transit ridership, one of the most encouraging indicators that our comeback from COVID is right on track," Governor Kathy Hochul said. "Public transportation systems are the lifeblood of New York, and we will continue doing everything in our power to bring riders back, helping drive our economic recovery."
Ridership is stuck around 60% of what it was before the city shut down, MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said, adding that part of it is office workers still working from home.
"This week's record ridership on both our commuter railroads and the subway are just the latest evidence that New York's comeback is being powered by transit," he said. "We are committed to bringing riders back with the new OMNY 'Lucky 13' weekly unlimited and other fare discount options, as well as frequent, reliable service, and we can't wait to welcome more New Yorkers back to mass transit in the weeks and months to come."
Still, he admits service on some of the commuter rail lines is not what it used to be.
He said the agency will eventually increase service but wouldn't say when, particularly on the Port Washington line.
Ridership on both railroads and the subway have been steadily growing as major companies began to bring employees back to the office starting in March, and the four highest pandemic-era ridership days on the subway have all been recorded in May 2022. Both railroads have reached new pandemic-era ridership highs in each of the past 3 weeks.
Officials believe numbers will continue to come up, and they are seeking new ways to help customers explore local restaurants and neighborhoods.
One of those initiatives is the recently announced DineAWAY campaign, an extension of the existing MTAAway, which helps riders plan day trips without taking a car.
The MTA has teamed up with the James Beard Foundation to get New Yorkers on subways, buses and commuter rails for an easy ride to some of the city's best food neighborhoods and some delectable destinations near the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.
DineAWAY is a joint campaign designed to bring back riders to the MTA, while supporting independent restaurants at the heart of New York City boroughs and surrounding neighborhoods.
COVID-19 has affected the restaurant industry in unprecedented ways, with many local businesses still struggling to meet pre-pandemic levels.
By participating in the DineAWAY campaign, New Yorkers and visitors from around the globe are invited to use mass transit to experience unparalleled dining and cultural experiences across the area, while supporting ongoing efforts to rebuild the food and beverage industry.
"MTAAway's DineAWAY program pulls together everything New Yorkers need to plan a day in a new neighborhood with friends and family in one place," MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer said. "MTA Away gives you a complete guide to local destinations that you may never have thought to visit, and it connects you to our fantastic trip planner. Riding our buses and trains takes the stress away from finding parking-it's good for the planet and even better for your wallet."
Neighborhoods and participating chefs include, but are not limited to:
--Harlem featuring JJ Johnson, FIELDTRIP
--Astoria featuring Beatrice Ajaero, Nneji
--Park Slope featuring Tonya Hopkins, Good Wine
--Sunnyside/Long Island City featuring Nestor Ducan, Rincon Melania
For more information, neighborhood guides featuring restaurant suggestions, chef profiles, and walking guides with fantastic food and drink options, visit MTAaway.com.
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