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Busiest Year for Subway System Since 1950

By Jill Colvin | April 10, 2012 5:55pm
The Times Square subway station counted more than 60 million riders last year.
The Times Square subway station counted more than 60 million riders last year.
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Wikimedia Commons / Uris

MANHATTAN — Straphangers swiped their MetroCards a whopping 1.6 billion times in 2011, marking the busiest year in the subway system on record since 1950.

New Metropolitan Transportation Authority stats reveal that more than 5 million passengers used the subways on an average weekday, with Midtown Manhattan’s stations the busiest, by far.

Not surprisingly, the Times Square-42nd Street station racked up the most riders, with more than 60 million people passing through its turnstiles last year.

Close behind were Grand Central-42nd Street (43 million), 34th Street-Herald Square (38 million), 14th Street-Union Square (35 million), and the 34th Street/Penn Station 1,2,3 stop, which tracked nearly 27 million people last year.

An entrance to the 96th Street B and C train station on April 1, 2012.
An entrance to the 96th Street B and C train station on April 1, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

The 34th Street-Penn Station A,C,E stop, 59th Street-Columbus Circle, Lexington Avenue-59th Street Station, 86th Street 4/5/6 station and Lexington Avenue-53rd Street Station rounded out the borough’s top 10.

The least used stations in Manhattan were the 115th Street C station and the 215th Street 1 station, which tracked just 2,450 and 2,000 riders, respectively, on the average weekday.

Many stations also showed marked differences in weekend versus weekday use. Union Square, for instance, shot from fourth to second most popular on weekends, while Grand Central’s popularity dropped from second to fourth.

The Lexington Ave.-53rd Street Station also sank from 8th most popular in Manhattan on weekdays to 21st on weekends, while the Fulton Street Station downtown dropped from 10th to 25th at the end of the work week.

In Brooklyn, the Jay St.-MetroTech and Court St./Borough Hall stations were the most popular overall, though on weekends, the Atlantic Ave./Pacific St. hub and the Williamsburg-based Bedford Avenue L street station took the prize.

Compared to 2010, the stations with the biggest increase in use included the Bronx's Whitlock Station 6 train stop, with a 344.6 percent jump, and the Morrison Ave.-Soundview Station 6 stop, also in the Bronx, with a 314.5 percent bump.

Part of the reason for the increase was that both stations were closed for large portions of 2010.

The Aqueduct-North Conduit Ave. A  station, home of the new Aqueduct Racino, also saw a major jump.

Among the stations with the largest decreases was the Roosevelt Island station, which saw an 18 percent drop in ridership coinciding with reopening of the island’s aerial tramway.