New York MTA announces NYCT ridership surpasses two million as New York City begins Phase 2 reopening

June 23, 2020
As ridership increases, MTA continues its 24/7 disinfecting efforts.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that on June 19, weekday combined ridership on New York City subways and buses surpassed two million for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

While a significant increase since the start of the pandemic, the figure represents a decline of 74 percent from normal weekday ridership levels of 7.6 million combined riders. Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) ridership is down 85 percent from normal levels and Metro-North Railroad (Metro-North) is down 87 percent.

The MTA says it has prepared its system for further ridership gains through increased service, around-the-clock cleaning and disinfecting and requiring all customers and employees to wear masks. With mask compliance at 95 percent, the MTA continues to distribute two million masks that were contributed by the state and the city. Approximately 760 New York City School Safety Agents who have been positioned across subway stations to distribute masks will maintain their existing coverage with additional masks available at station booths.

“New Yorkers returning to our system can rest assured that the MTA is leading the nation in customer and employee safety, and we are doing everything possible to transform our system and operations for the future,” said Patrick J. Foye, chairman and CEO of the MTA. “Our review of best practices from systems around the globe and input from the business and labor communities and public health officials has produced an aggressive plan that is being made real by the talented and dedicated MTA workforce. We continue to thank our frontline employees – the heroes moving heroes – whose commitment to public service has been unwavering. We continue to ask for robust federal funding.”

As the MTA continues to explore options in its search for customer and employee safety, the agency released a report it had commissioned, reviewing the most effective responses to the pandemic from around the globe. The report is a review of international case studies highlighting the range of creative practices and innovative approaches being implemented globally, particularly from countries in Europe and Asia that faced COVID-19 challenges earlier than the United States. The report, prepared by WSP USA, Inc., and Dr. Aisha Rivera Margarin, is available online.

“Safety is our core mission at the MTA, and it will continue to be the cornerstone of everything we do,” said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of New York City Transit (NYCT). “Mask vigilance is absolutely critical as New York reopens, and we urge our customers to continue to closely follow public health guidance by frequently washing their hands or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We’ll be here every step of the way to safely welcome our customers back and I want to thank the incredible 54,000 men and women of NYC Transit for their unwavering dedication during this time.”

“With bus ridership rebounding and bus service increases continuing, I thank our bus operators, and everyone behind the scenes who keep buses moving,” said Craig Cipriano, acting senior vice president, NYCT Department of Buses and acting president, MTA Bus Company. “We will continue to disinfect every bus daily and do everything we can do to protect the health and safety of our customers and employees.”

Impending financial calamity

The MTA has drawn down $2.9 billion of the allocation of funding it received in the March federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding, or about 73 percent of its allocation. The MTA says it expects to exhaust its remaining CARES funding in July.

“The MTA is facing the most acute financial crisis in its history,” said MTA Chief Financial Officer Bob Foran. “With more than 70 percent of the CARES funding provided in the first relief package drawn down, and all CARES funding expected to be exhausted early next month, our finances are on life support. We need the Senate to take action now and follow the House of Representatives’ leadership on continued pandemic funding. As the MTA is the lifeblood of New York and the nation’s economy – our financial health will be critical to the country’s economic recovery. New York is also the top donor state in the nation providing $29 billion more in funding than we get back from the federal government. We urge the Senate to come back to Washington, do its job and provide another $3.9 billion in funding to the MTA now to cover the rest of 2020.”

Ridership and service details


Bus ridership surpassed one million for the first time on June 19, with ridership of 1,033,000. The MTA’s normal average weekday bus ridership ranges between 2.1 and 2.5 million.

Bus service levels have been operating at regular weekday/closed school service levels in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island since New York City’s Phase 1 reopening on June 8. In Manhattan, the MTA is increasing service on four Select Bus Service routes, the M15, M23, M34 and M60. These increases raise the overall Manhattan bus service level to 80 percent of normal, from 75 percent as of the Phase 1 reopening on June 8.

Since May 1, ridership on the New York City Subway has gradually increased, reaching nearly 985,000 as of June 19, which represents a decline of 83 percent from the normal average weekday of approximately 5.5 million. Subways returned regular weekday service on June 8, except for the continuing closure of the system between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. for disinfecting and cleaning.


The LIRR introduced new timetables on June 8, that increased service to 90 percent of normal weekday service. Service details can be found on the MYmta and LIRR TrainTime apps, and via Off-peak fares continue to remain in effect at all times.

The LIRR continues to hand out masks to customers and has made hand sanitizer stations available throughout the system. To help foster social distancing as the LIRR welcomes customers back, it has made car-by-car seating availability information available in real-time on the recently updated LIRR TrainTime app. Off-peak fares will continue to apply at all times.


Metro-North station ambassadors will continue to be at major stations distributing masks and monitoring conditions. Metro-North is continuing to install hand sanitizer dispensers at all New York and many Connecticut stations. Masks are stored on all trains in the event that a person boards without wearing one.

Effective June 22, Metro-North offers 12 additional trains, bringing the railroad’s East-of-Hudson service levels to 63 percent of normal levels. The railroad is adding two morning trains each on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines, and two in the afternoon/evening on each line. The railroad has moved up the departure time of three early morning Hudson Line trains to accommodate those employed in the construction trades who tend to travel on the earliest trains.

Metro-North says it is closely monitoring ridership on a train-by-train basis to be ready to make additional adjustments. As the Mid-Hudson Valley entered Phase 1 reopening on May 26, Metro-North began increasing service, adding 19 trains at that time. On June 15, Metro-North added 80 trains. Off-peak fares will continue to apply at all times.

Cleaning and disinfecting

On May 6, the subway system began to shut down from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. for the first time in its 115-year history for cleaning and disinfecting. To date, MTA says all 472 subway stations have been cleaned more than 94,000 times and the rolling fleet of subway cars have been cleaned more than 497,000 times. Access-A-Ride vehicles have been cleaned more than 131,000 times. Buses have gone through more than 254,000 cleaning cycles.

Daily cleaning and disinfecting will continue across train cars and at stations. All train cars will be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day and all stations at least twice daily. In a recent customer survey, 70 percent of customers say they have noticed cleaner trains, according to MTA.

LIRR stations have been cleaned more than 26,000 times to date and LIRR train cars have been cleaned more than 75,900 times during that time. Daily disinfecting and cleaning will continue with all LIRR train cars being sanitized at least once a day and stations at least twice daily.

Daily disinfecting and cleaning will continue with all Metro-North train cars being sanitized at least once a day and stations at least twice daily. To date, Metro-North stations have been cleaned more than 26,000 times, while train cars has been cleaned more than 39,600 times.

13-Point Action Plan for a safe return

As New York City enters Phase 2 reopening, the MTA is furthering its 13-Point Action Plan for a Safe Return that was announced when New York City entered Phase 1 reopening on June 8. To continue moving essential workers, welcome back additional riders and invest in the future of the system, the MTA says it is reimagining operations with one core mission: doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.

The MTA’s 13-Point Action Plan for A Safe Return includes:

  • Increased service
  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Mandatory face coverings
  • Enhanced safety and security
  • Employee safety initiatives
  • Innovative cleaning solutions
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Floor markings, directional arrows and new signage
  • Staggered business hours
  • Two million mask contribution from the state and city
  • Contactless payments
  • New partnership and technology to make system safer
  • Data dashboard