MTA says subway ridership continues to plummet

October 19, 2018 | 10:55pm
Subway ridership keeps sinking.
MTA figures released late Friday show that subway ridership continued to plummet this summer.
Weekend ridership plummeted, falling 8.8 percent in August 2018 compared to the same month the year before. That tallies out to half-a-million fewer MetroCard swipes each weekend.
Meanwhile, weekday ridership continued to fall as well, dropping 2.5 percent in August 2018.
“People see all these diversion notices and get discouraged. They leave the station and get an Uber,” said Andrew Albert, the riders rep on the MTA board.
He said the weekday ridership tumble may be partially caused by the MTA’s decision to begin overnight track and signal work as early as 9:30 p.m., instead of the previous 11:30 p.m.
That’s not the end of the bad news. The MTA warned its board in the documents that the weekday ridership drops may be accelerating, noting the year-to-year decline was “a larger decline than during the second quarter of 2018.”
“Riders really depend on a thriving public transportation system,” said Rebecca Bailin, spokeswoman for the Riders Alliance. “There are millions of New Yorkers who can’t afford to flee the subways when they don’t work.”
“A fair New York City needs to have a public transportation system that actually works,” she added. “The responsibility is on Gov. Cuomo and the legislature in Albany to fix it.”
The report is the latest evidence that the subway’s three-year-long ridership slide is continuing unabated, as riders fed up with signal failures and breakdowns opt to either stay home or for other forms of transportation — putting new strain on the Cuomo-controlled MTA’s finances.
“The three-year decline in subway ridership has had a significant impact on the MTA’s operating budget,” state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found in an audit released last week. “Subway and bus ridership in 2019 is projected to be 236 million rides lower than the MTA projected three years ago, which could result in a cumulative revenue loss of $822 million from 2016 through 2019.”
The subway system’s new boss, Andy Byford, has proposed a $37 billion plan to overhaul the system — including replacing the decades-old, oft-broken train signaling system. However, it remains unfunded.
News of the latest ridership drop comes as the MTA continues to struggle to keep its signals working and trains running on-time, the new documents show.
More than 48,000 trains were delayed in September 2018, though that was down 17 percent from the previous September.
A dismal 69 percent of trains were on time, which was a slight improvement from the 64.6 percent last September, the new stats show.
Over the last 12 months, the subway has an average on-time percentage of just 65 percent.
“This month’s subway report shows service improvements across every metric which is very encouraging – we’ve still got lots of work to do to earn back trust but we’re committed to getting the job done for New Yorkers,” said MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein.
Meanwhile, the subpar figures provided cash-strapped GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinario an opening to attack Cuomo’s management of the decrepit system.
“The subway system is in a death spiral because of appalling mismanagement by a governor who prefers ribbon cutting projects,” said Molinaro. “The loss of ridership and plummeting on-time percentages can be directly attributed Andrew Cuomo’s disregard for the system.”
Cuomo’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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