MTA Struggles to Bring New Yorkers Back to the Subways, as Many Companies Continue to Allow Working from Home

MTA Struggles to Bring New Yorkers Back to the Subways, as Many Companies Continue to Allow Working from Home

By Yehudit Garmaise

On Thursday, Jan. 6, when 2,383,403 New Yorkers rode the subway that number was only 43% of the 5,493,875 people who headed underground to get around on a typical day in 2019.

While the latest numbers recorded by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), show significant improvement over the incredibly low numbers of ridership during the peak of the pandemic in April 2020, New York Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli just released a report that some subways stations are seeing more riders than others.

Namely, the subway stations that are in neighborhoods with lower median incomes have been seeing modest ridership increases, while the stations, such as the Wall Street station in downtown Manhattan are still showing only 27% of the ridership it enjoyed, back in 2019.

The correlation between increased ridership in neighborhoods with lower median household incomes, news12 Brooklyn reported, suggests that riders who make less money may work in jobs that do not allow them the luxury of working from home.

In September, 2021, when DiNapoli released an annual report of the MTA’s finances, which were close to fiscal disaster last year before large amounts of federal aid came to the transit agency’s rescue, the state’s comptroller explained how important the MTA’s subway system is to the city’s economy.

“The MTA is the engine that drives New York City’s economy, and it is running on borrowed time,” DiNapoli said. “It has so far survived the worst crisis in its history by covering budgets with massive federal aid.

“The MTA and its funding partners face tough choices on challenges that can turn into emergencies if not dealt with promptly. 

“Bringing riders back, protecting against extreme weather and maximizing new sources of revenue are all challenges the MTA needs to address before emergency federal funds dry up in 2025.

“After that, the MTA faces enormous budget shortfalls that could harm the regional economy with no easy solutions.”

After banking giants JPMorgan Chase Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Jefferies all backtracked, at the start 2022, on their back-to-the office plans due to the Omicron crisis, Mayor Eric Adams urge the bankers to reconsider telling them, “You can’t run New York from your homes.”

Some banks had urged workers to stay home, and others, including JPMorgan, gave employees the option to work remotely.

"We have to open up," said Adams last week, while also emphasizing safety, vaccinations, and boosters. "I need my city to open.”

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