The rush is back on.
Around 5 pm on Thursday at Penn Station’s LIRR corridor, masses huddled and waited beneath the Seventh Avenue track board. As trains pulled up, office workers stampeded down the platform, eager to snag a good seat – just like the good old days.
After nearly two years away, commuters are streaming back into the city. The formerly desolate metropolis is roaring back to life. Trains are full and stations are crowded. Last Monday, the LIRR saw an estimated 158,200 passengers, more than triple the number of riders the Monday prior. Metro-North Railroad also saw a whopping jump, with an 148,200 riders this past Monday compared to only 63,900 from the previous one.
“My goodness, recently ridership has boomed,” said Farmingdale resident Mike Guthy, who has been traveling to his Port Authority Jersey City office three times a week since the summer. “A month or so ago it was not all that crowded, but now I’m seeing more people on the LIRR with me week by week.”
Long Beach commuter Lori Kissicky-Thorne, 59, who has been working downtown four days a week as a finance administrator since September, has noticed the uptick both on trains and in local businesses.
“By my office I’m seeing more delis, bars and restaurants crowded lately. I noticed it in the past two to three weeks, which is when my train started getting busier as well, ”Kissicky-Thorne told The Post, adding that she’s seen people smiling more while out and about in Manhattan.
Business owners are grateful for the returning crowds.
“We’re getting a lot of office workers coming in during their lunch breaks again. That was a big part of our business, ”Nicholas Satchell, pizzaiolo of NY Pizza Suprema on Eighth Avenue near Penn Station, told The Post. “Every day it’s getting better and better, especially in the last two or three weeks.”
Even the buskers are seeing an uptick, and adjusting their hours accordingly.
“Today and on certain days it’s like, ‘Oh, New York!’ There’s some action, ”doubleneck guitarist Scott Stenten told The Post. He was playing around Penn Station during Thursday’s afternoon rush hour and said he’ll likely start playing more commuter hubs in upcoming weeks.
On a good day, he’ll make $ 40, and he’s happy for the bigger crowds, though accompanying bassist Robert Block conceded that “people were more generous during the deep pandemic.”
Will Chiarucci, a construction worker who commutes from Bellmore, LI, to Hudson Yards also saw the good and bad with the returning crowds.
“Just walking to and from work through Midtown I can tell the energy is back and people want to be here again,” he enthused. “I’m going to miss the extra legroom I was having on the train last year, but I’m sure glad to see the city making a comeback.”