The MTA topped 1 billion subway riders in 2022, the first time that has happened since 2019, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday. 

According to a press release issued by the governor, the 2022 numbers far surpass the total number of subway riders in 2021, when 760 million riders used the subway system, and 2020, when 640 million riders did.

Ridership remains only about 60% of pre-pandemic levels, according to officials. The system transported 1.698 billion riders in 2019, the release said. 

The billionth rider was Bronx resident Sasha Salazar, who entered at the 161 St-Yankee Stadium Tuesday morning. 

“We have been working hard to bring customers back by providing safer, cleaner, and faster service, and hitting one billion riders in 2022 is evidence that our work is paying off,” Hochul said. “New Yorkers and tourists alike continue to flock to the subway, proving there is no better way to get around New York City than mass transit.”

The announcement comes a week after NYC Transit President Richard Davey revealed plans to reduce some subway service on seven subway lines in an effort to reflect post-pandemic subway trends, starting in June 2023.

Transit advocates and union leadership are opposing those changes, saying the move is a service cut as opposed to a reallocation of resources, as the MTA claims. 

“NYC Transit President Rich Davey should immediately reconsider his plan to impose service cuts. They make zero sense. Riders are coming back to the system. Why reduce the frequency of trains?” TWU Local 100 president Richard Davis said in a statement. “Service cuts will mean longer waits and more crowding on platforms and inside subway cars – during a pandemic!”

The agency’s OMNY fare-payment system also saw a growth in ridership with more than 425 million taps since its rollout, the release said. 

“In 2022, customers have voted with their MetroCard swipes and OMNY taps, and hundreds of millions have returned to the subway,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. “Hitting this milestone, one billion subway riders in 2022, demonstrates again how essential mass transit is to New York City’s economy and continued recovery from the pandemic.”