While news of the fare hike dominated the papers this morning, another big story concerning train service made the front pages as well. According to MTA’s own metrics, train delays are up significantly this year with the IRT lines bearing the brunt of the problems. More concerning, though, are reports suggesting that there is no quick fix to this problem.
For the numbers, check out the graphic at right. Ray Rivera, reporting on this story for The Times, provides some context:
The No. 4, which runs from Woodlawn in the Bronx to Crown Heights and Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, reached its destination on time in only 70.1 percent of its runs in May, the new figures show. That was nearly a 12 percent decline from the same month the previous year.
The average on-time performance for the rest of the system was 91.5 percent that same month, a 1.62 percent decline from the previous May, according to the agency.
The No. 4’s average on-time performance for the year was slightly better, at 79.7 percent, a 4.8 percent decrease from the previous 12 months. Over all, the system had a 12-month on-time average of 92 percent, a 1.64 percent decrease from the previous cycle.
According to Rivera, the MTA has dispatched workers along the route to figure out why the IRT trains are suffering a disproportionate number of delays. Straphangers Campaign lawyer Gene Russianoff, as he is wont to do, questioned the MTA’s methodology, noting that the MTA counts trains as late if they reach their terminus stations after the scheduled time. How these trains behave en route is a different story and one that could make these numbers look bad.
While, as Rivera writes, “transit officials cite track work, customers holding doors, sick and unruly riders and signal trouble as the leading causes for the delays,” these reports come from train crews and based on guidelines handed out by the MTA. They are, in essence, subject to the whims of the train crew.
I think the biggest culprit in delays these days originate from passengers. Irate straphangers try to cram onto over-crowded trains during rush hour, and those driving the train can’t close the doors. While track-work delays and other non-human delays (mechanical problems, signal issues) cause their fair shares of delays, if the MTA could combat the door-holding craze plaguing the trains, I’m sure service would improve. It’s a better solution than reviving the dormant skip-stop service.
The graphic on the side charting delays comes to us via The New York Times.