Americans are standing clear of closing doors and watching the gap between trains and platforms at their highest rates in more than a year, new data suggests.
In New York City, ridership levels as of April 19 are 36% below their pre-pandemic levels but have more than doubled since last year’s lows, according to data from Moovit, a mobile app owned by Intel
that helps 950 million daily users around the world plan and book trips using public transit.
The return to using public transit comes as more than 25% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and nearly 40% of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose.
Total traffic on bridges and tunnels in New York City is even closer to their pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the MTA. On April 17 traffic was just 3.7% below what it was on April 17, 2019.
Many New Yorkers’ reluctance to return to using public transit doesn’t stem from health-related fears but rather from safety concerns, according to a survey of more than 33,000 riders conducted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority earlier this month.
Some 36% of New Yorkers who relied on public transit before the pandemic are avoiding it “because of crime and harassment,” the survey found. This comes amid a rise in anti-Asian attacks in the city.
In Miami, Fla., meanwhile, public transit ridership has returned to its pre-pandemic levels, according to Moovit data.
Americans in the Miami-Dade County area have benefited from free bus and Metrorail rides since March 22 of last year — but will have to start paying pre-pandemic fares beginning June 1.
Across the U.S., some 21% of employed Americans continued to work remotely as of March, compared to last May, when more than 35% of Americans worked remotely, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Amid the uptick in public transit ridership, Americans have also been flying at their highest rates during the pandemic, according to airport checkpoint data published by the Transportation Security Administration.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed their travel guidelines for vaccinated Americans, saying that they can travel domestically without needing to get tested or quarantine.
However, the agency is still advising against travel because of the increased risk it poses for spreading COVID-19 to unvaccinated people.