Chart of the day: NYC subway ridership

By Felix Salmon
May 11, 2009

Paul Kedrosky points to this wonderful map of New York City with sparklines showing ridership over time at various subway stations. I can’t get the background map to show up, but the data is all still there, and here’s a bit of the Lower East Side:

LESsubways.jpg

It’s well known that the Lower East Side has been resurgent of late — and so the increased traffic at the 2nd Avenue F stop comes as little surprise. (To give you an example of the timescale here, the grey box covers the years from 1952 to 1977.)

What fascinates me about this map is how four stations all of which are quite close to each other can have such very different ridership experiences — a true demonstration of how New York really is made up of very small microneighborhoods.

The Bowery J/M/Z stop has seen less ridership than any other subway station in Manhattan for years, and there are always rumors floating around that it might just be closed. Meanwhile, the Grand Street station just a few blocks away has loads of traffic. Partly that’s a function of the lines they’re on — the B/D lines are useful, while the J/M/Z lines are notoriously unlikely to go anywhere you might ever want to go. But it’s also a function of the fact that the Bowery stop is in a weird not-quite-anything neighborhood, while the Grand Street stop is increasingly finding itself in the heart of a very vibrant Chinatown.

Meanwhile, the Essex and Delancey stop is only very slowly beginning to pick up a little steam — it’s well behind the East Village on that front.

But this chart, of course, is just the beginning. Next up, someone should overlay local property prices, rebased to the NYC average. That could be very interesting indeed.

Comments
One comment so far

The graphs also get influenced by the potential connections available. The B and D trains have become much more significant, and others less so. J, M and Z lines are not very connected to other parts of Manhattan, although they might have been routed differently in the past. Perhaps a better graph would be the ridership on the lines (normalized since lines change name) rather than specific stops.

Posted by Nic Fulton | Report as abusive
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