More than 6.1 million people rode the New York City subway on Sept. 23, the highest recorded number since the MTA started keeping track in 1985.
The MTA said ridership exceeded 6 million on five different days in September. The monthly total was 149 million riders, more riders than any other September in 60 years.
The average number of riders on a weekday is 5.8 million, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
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Riders also set records on Sunday, Sept. 21, when nearly 3 million passengers took the train, the highest ridership on a Sunday since 1985, and likely the highest since the late 1940s. That was the day of the People’s Climate March, when more than 310,000 people walked through the streets of Manhattan, calling on the United Nations to take a stand against climate change.
In a prepared release, MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said “New Yorkers and visitors alike continue to vote with their feet, recognizing that riding the subway is the most efficient way to get around town.”
Prendergast said the peak numbers are a “phenomenal achievement,” especially since the MTA served just 3.6 million daily riders 20 years ago. He stressed the importance of the MTA making improvements, such as new subway cars, signals and stations, as ridership continues to rise.
John Raskin, executive director of the Rider’s Alliance, said the increased ridership numbers are cause for “celebration,” but also “concern” in terms of building and maintaining subway systems, especially because of a $15 billion gap in funding.
“The system has made leaps and bounds of progress over the bad old days of the 1980s,” Raskin said. “The most important thing with the number of more people on the subway is finding money to keep the subway up and running for years in future.”
“You can’t have good transit without a thriving city, and you can’t have a thriving city without good public transportation,” Raskin said.