Did an Anti-Trump protest affect ridership at subway stations?

Picture via Jorge Romero

If you were to ask anyone, they can probably tell you how they felt on the day of the 2016 Presidential Election. They can tell you how they felt during the day and their reaction to the results, and so can you if you were asked. The day after Donald Trump’s victory, many can recall the melancholic mood of everyone in the city, ranging with emotional breakdowns to blank faces. The result of Trump winning the election sent shockwaves across the world, and a result of his win, many protests were staged against his win, with many starting in New York City.

One of the first post-election protests was a march to Trump Tower that began in Union Square around 6pm, the day after the election. At first, many protesters were gathered in front of the main entrance to the Union Square subway stop, which services the busy 456 and NQRW lines. That station ranked as the third highest subway stop in ridership, behind Herald Square and Times Square.

The path the march took from Union Square to Trump Tower, outlined in red.

Protestors were stationed right near the entrance for an hour until they started marching, chanting in unison phrases like “F*** Donald Trump” and “Not My President.” Amidst the crowd of angry protesters, many could be seen trying to exit the subway station, having to maneuver a way through to the street. If would appear that ridership at this station was negatively affected by the protest, but the data seems to suggest the opposite.

On Election day, the total ridership for Union Square totaled 115,082, with 57,030 entries and 58,062 exits accumulated throughout the day. The day after the election, ridership at the same station rose to 121,947, with 57,869 entries and 64,078 exits. Per turnstile data from the MTA, we can determine that ridership for Union Square grew, specifically in exits, on the day of this protest. To get more specific, during the time frame between 4pm-8pm, there were 15,778 exits on Election day, compared to 20,735 the day after. The nearly 5,000 increase in exits suggests that more people were exiting the station to join the protest itself, rather than be deterred away due to the high volume of people near the entrance. For reference, entries grew by nearly 2,000 the day after the election, during the same time frame.

Ridership data, day of vs day after.

As the protestors marched to Trump Tower from Union Square, the path they took ventured up Broadway, 5th and 6th Avenues before finally reaching Trump Tower near 57th Street and 5th Avenue. Nearby, there were two subway stations near the massive crowd that form in front of Trump Tower: 59th Street on the NRW lines, which is two blocks up from the tower, and 57th Street on the F line, which is just an avenue west on 6th Avenue. The 59st station’s ridership experienced very small growth in ridership on the day after the election, as only 515 more exits were recorded compared to the previous day during the timeframe the crowd was stationed in front of Trump Tower.

Entry and exit data for both days.

The 57th street station on the F line experience similar growth compared to the past day, with around 3,000 more riders recorded on the day after the election. During the time frame in which the protesters were stationed in front of Trump’s luxury tower, more than 600 exits were recorded over the previous day, with a total of 2067 during the hours of 4–8m.

With heavy activity on the outside of these stations, police presence is sure to be expected along with heavy security. The MTA is known to shut down exits for the New Year’s celebration in Times Square and for big demonstrations such as the Pride march, which covers many different subway stations

The MTA did not respond for comment referring to the criteria about partial station shutdowns in relation to these events.

A demonstrator at the protest, Sharon Bardales, says that the MTA ought not to do any kind of maintenance work when these events are going on. “It’s difficult for people to have access to these protests if the train has delays due to workers working on the train system.” Bardales said.”t

“I remember one time during the weekend, I was heading to a protest but was delayed due to workers working on the 1 line. So, the MTA can definitely schedule certain projects around protests in order to decrease any chaos.”

On the way, she noted that her downtown number 4 train was packed with others going to the event. “I saw a large number of people with signs heading to the same train stations. The train station on the 4 train became more packed than usual which caused some delay for me to get there sooner than I expected.”

Sharon overlooking Trump tower.
Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Jorge Romero’s story.