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NYC subway ridership now highest in 65 years. Why?

The NYC transit authority says more than 1.7 billion people rode the subway last year. That's a 2.6 percent increase from 2013.

New York City subway ridership has reached its highest level in more than 65 years.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says more than 1.7 billion people rode the subway last year. That's a 2.6 percent increase from 2013.

Figures released Monday show that 5.6 million people rode the system on weekdays and 6 million took it on an average weekend.

The MTA says at its busiest, it carried more than 6 million customers on 29 weekdays in the last four months of 2014. That's a level it hasn't seen since the post-World War II era.

Subway ridership grew across every borough, but Brooklyn saw the largest increase with a 2.7 percent rise in average weekday ridership.

The Wall Street Journal reports that "ridership growth was seen citywide across all boroughs and all lines, the MTA said, but the highest percentage increases were seen in neighborhoods experiencing both rapid residential development and population increases, such as Bushwick in Brooklyn and Long Island City in Queens, the agency said.

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast noted more investment in infrastructureis sorely needed. In a statement, he called the renaissance of the city subway “a miracle” for those who could recall the “decrepit” system of the 1970s and 1980s. But moving some six million people a day meant even minor disruptions could cause riders major delays.

“We are aggressively working to combat delays and improve maintenance, but the ultimate solution requires investing in infrastructure upgrades,” such as train signaling systems, Mr. Prendergast said.

Public transit ridership is up across the US in recent years as the economy picks up and more people are working. The American Public Transportation Association reported that in 2012 U.S. transit ridership rose 1.49 percent, with passengers taking 10.52 million trips on trains, buses and commuter rail, according to Reuters.

The increase was universal across the different modes of transit. There were 1.42 percent more trips on heavy rail such as subways, 4.47 percent more on light rail, and 0.52 percent more on commuter rail than in 2011. Meanwhile, bus ridership grew 1.2 percent. Some of the light rail rise came from cities expanding or creating lines.

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