NYC subway ridership rebounding after drop due to omicron

Transit officials in New York are hoping a recent uptick in subway ridership is a sign that the city is bouncing back from the omicron surge

NEW YORK -- Transit officials in New York are hoping a recent uptick in subway ridership is a sign that the city is bouncing back from the omicron surge.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported subway ridership topped 3 million for three days in a row last week. It was the first time that had happened since the omicron wave hit New York in mid-December.

Weekday ridership regularly topped 5.5 million before COVID-19, but it cratered during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and fell as much as 95%. Riders gradually returned during 2021 and ridership regularly surpassed 3 million beginning in late September, until omicron hit in December.

The MTA has projected the residual effect of the pandemic ridership decreases will produce a $1.4 billion operating deficit by 2025, despite billions in aid from the federal government. The authority projects ridership will still lag pre-pandemic levels by 10% to 20% by the end of 2024.

The MTA recently introduced fare discounts to try to attract more riders, including a program in which users of a contactless payment system get free rides on subways or buses after they reach 12 rides in a week.