Subway ridership jumps in Long Island City

By TimesLedger staff

It will come as no surprise to Queens straphangers that subway ridership in the borough surged in 2014.

The MTA announced that the number of passengers taking subways throughout the city reached the highest level in more than 65 years for a growth rate of 2.6 percent.

The figures released by New York City Transit found that 5.6 million passengers rode the subway on an average weekday and 6 million customers on an average weekend.

Leading the growth in ridership were Bushwick in Brooklyn and Long Island City, neighborhoods that are attracting many new residents as development projects boom.

In Long Island City, weekday ridership on the No. 7 line climbed by 12 percent, or 1,500 passengers, at the Vernon-Jackson Avenue station and by 9.7 percent, or nearly 2,000 customers, at the Court Square station, which is served by the E,G, M and 7.

The MTA pointed out that ridership at the Vernon-Jackson station has more than doubled since 2000 as the population has expanded dramatically to fill the new residential high rises.

Overall Brooklyn had the largest jump in ridership last year with an increase of 2.7 percent, followed by a 2.5 percent increase in Mnahattan, 2.1 percent in the Bronx and 1.9 percent in Queens.

The MTA acknowledged that the rise in ridership has posed problems for the transportation agency in terms of delays, crowding and inconvenience.

“We are aggressively working to combat delays and improve maintenance, but the ultimate solution requires investing infrastructure upgrades such as Communications-Based Train Control signaling systems to accommodate every one of our growing number of customers,” said Thomas Prendergast, MTA chairman.

The MTA has been installing the CBTC system on the No. 7 line, which has required shutdown of weekend service and frustrated many travelers taking that train.

CBTC will enable trains to run more closely together and provide countdown clock information.

The sharp rise in ridership has intensified pressure on the MTA to find funding to close the $14 billion gap in its capital program, which threatens to undermine plans to renovate the aging system.

The Tri-state Transportation Campaign, a non-profit organization, urged legislators returning to Albany this week to tackle the gap and the city to increase its contribution to the capital plan.

“New Yorkers are voting with their Metrocards and relying on public transit more each year,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, a grassroots group. “It’s time for Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers to listen to the crowd and increase transit funding to match riders’ needs.”

More from Around New York