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Bleak economy causes MTA ridership to decrease

The economic recession that has left the MTA in critical condition has cost the agency $100 million as the result of millions of fewer riders on subways, buses and commuter trains and a drop in bridge and tunnel tolls.

“The MTA’s ridership is inextricably linked to the economy of New York City, especially ridership to the central business district where the majority of jobs are located,” said state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“New York City lost 110,000 jobs between October 2008 and October 2009,” he said.

“The MTA is vital to the strength of the regional economy and the health of the economy has a huge impact on ridership,” DiNapoli said. “People don’t commute when they’re unemployed.”

DiNapoli released a report Jan. 14 in which he said that in the first 10 months of 2009, subway ridership declined by 3.2 percent compared to the same period of 2008, a loss of 44 million rides.

Numbers of subway riders in midtown Manhattan fell by more than 6 percent.


• ridership on New York City Transit buses declined by 2.9 percent in the first 10 months of 2009 compared with the same period of 2008, a loss of 18 million riders;

• ridership on the Long Island Rail Road fell by 5.5 percent in the first 10 months of 2009 compared with the same period a year earlier;

• bridge and tunnel crossings declined by 4.3 percent on the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge to and from Manhattan with both experiencing the biggest losses;

• the recession adversely affected bridge and tunnel traffic, although a decline had begun in 2007 because of rapidly rising fuel costs;

• the numbers of passengers on Metro-North Railroad had grown every year since 2005 and ridership hit a peak in 2008;

• between January 2007 and September 2008, Metro-North monthly ridership increased by an average of 3.8 percent but declined 4.8 percent in the first 10 months of 2009; and

• through October 2009, 3.2 million fewer riders have used Metro-North than in 2008.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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