NEW YORK’S SUBWAY SYSTEM FACES A CASH-STARVED FUTURE


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After plummeting 93 percent at the depths of the pandemic last spring, ridership on New York City’s subway system has crawled back up to about 33 percent of 2019 levels, The New York Times reported.
Federal aid, plus $6 billion more dollars earmarked for the system in President Biden’s newest stimulus plan, has enabled the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which operates the subway system, to survive.
However, about 40 percent of the system’s usual budget comes from riders’ fares, a higher proportion than most other U.S. urban public transport systems.
Before the pandemic, eight million people – more than half of the metro region’s population – rode the subways every weekday.
Many of those riders may never return: fewer than half the number of people who worked in Manhattan offices in 2019 will work there in future years, according to a recent survey by the nonprofit Partnership for New York City (PNYC)
The pandemic accelerated a trend already allowing more office workers to remain at home. That, and the City’s pricey apartments, has driven a number of residents out of the metro area entirely.
Already, the MTA has cut back service on its Metro-North and Long Island commuter routes, where ridership has stalled at about a quarter of 2019’s volume and may be forced to run fewer trains inside the City, including during rush hours.
Ridership could return to as high as 92 percent of 2019’s numbers, but not until at least 2024, an analysis by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. determined.
Bus ridership has risen to 40 percent of 2019 levels, besting the subway system’s numbers, the MTA recently reported.
“Commuter culture is going to change,” Kathryn Wylde, PNYC president, commented to the NYT
“People are looking for more flexibility and more options which improve their quality of life,” she said. “That’s a legacy of the pandemic.”
TREND FORECAST: Yes, the “consumer culture” has changed and there is now more “flexibility.” As we had forecast since the onset of the COVID War, when Silicon Valley was the first to tell their staffs to work from home, new 21st-century work-at-home and online schooling trends were launched. 
Trends are born, they grow, mature, reach old age, and die. These trends have just been born, and they will accelerate. Thus, there will be less commuting, and America’s third-world rotted commuter rail service will continue its decline.
To illustrate the speed of change, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Salesforce.com, and PricewaterhouseCoopers are among the major firms looking to unload big blocks of commercial office space, the latest sign that remote work is here to stay, the Wall Street Journal reported today. 
Not only will this push down commercial real estate prices lower as we have forecast, but it will also destroy the many businesses in numerous sectors that depend on commuter and business traffic.

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