New York City Commuter Rail Lines, Subway See Uptick in Ridership 

July 10, 2023

The below NYC commuter data suggest that office workers and others are returning to their positions in New York City at a growingly stronger rate. CREFC will continue to monitor this dynamic as the ‘return-to-office’ dynamic is an important one.

Tickets Please. New York City’s subway system and two major commuter railroads saw ridership jump in May. Tracking commuter data into New York City helps inform how many workers are returning to their workplaces. While the numbers of commuters returning to work in New York City are up since the depths of COVID, it’s clear that hybrid work has taken hold. Most commuters come to New York City three days per week, mostly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

By the numbers:

Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)

  • In May 2023, ridership on the LIRR, the nation’s busiest commuter railroad, totaled 5,634,423.
  • This compares to May 2020’s low of 515,918 and May 2022’s 4,468,670. Prior to the pandemic, typical monthly ridership was 7 to 8 million. Note that LIRR readily available data goes back to 2017.

Metro North Railroad

  • Ridership on the Metro North Railroad in May East of the Hudson, where the bulk of its services are offered, totaled 5,254,043.
  • That is the highest for the nation’s second busiest commuter railroad since February 2020 when it was 6,197,253.
  • In May 2020, ridership on Metro North was 335,887.
  • In May 2022, it was 3,882,484.

(Metro North data that is readily available goes back to 2020).

Subway Ridership. For much of May, subway ridership was at 60% or more of pre-pandemic levels. Six days in May saw daily passenger totals of over four million and the MTA highlighted the four million ridership milestone in a press release. Each week, subway use by passengers spiked on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; suggesting that work from home prevailed on Mondays and Fridays.

How It Compares to Pre-COVID Travel.

  • On the Metro North, which brings commuters from northern New York City suburbs and Connecticut, May ridership was at 60% or more of pre-pandemic levels for much of the month (30 days). Metro North ridership was at 80% or more of pre-pandemic levels on six days in May.
  • Ridership on the LIRR was at 60% or more of pre-pandemic levels for May 2023 and exceeded pre-pandemic levels on four days in May.
  • For much of May use of the New York City subways was above 60% of pre-pandemic levels.

Midweek Spike in Passenger Count. In May, Metro North had ten days where its daily passenger total exceeded 200,000, while LIRR had 20 days for which the daily ridership exceeded 200,000 commuters. For both commuter lines the daily ridership in May jumped on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

While the data highlight that more workers are coming to NYC as time passes post COVID, it continues to highlight that work from home continues to prevail at least for two to three days during the work week.

Please contact Aleksandrs Rozens with any questions at


Aleksandrs Rozens
Senior Director, Communications

The information provided herein is general in nature and for educational purposes only. CRE Finance Council makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, validity, usefulness, or suitability of the information provided. The information should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal, financial, tax, accounting, investment, commercial or other advice, and CRE Finance Council disclaims all liability for any such reliance. © 2023 CRE Finance Council. All rights reserved.

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