Minutes Matter January 2011
The Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC)347 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10017
iicustomer service, station conditions, courtesy, comfort, etc., are more subjectivethan others. For most agencies information on these areas are garnered throughpassenger surveys. However, other metrics which represent reliability, such asOTP, travel speed, headway regularity, and equipment dependability, arequantifiable and can be delivered as numeric representations.
It is the latter indicators that are the focus of this study.
The MTA and its Operating Agencies provide some of the most transparent anddetailed operational metrics among U.S. transit agencies; and this information isreadily available on the MTA website. With respect to MNR and LIRR, no majorcommuter railroad comes close to their level of operational performance disclosure,especially with the recent addition of metrics on delayed and canceled trains inBoard materials and on the website. In addition, the NYCT is to be lauded for theimprovement of its performance indicators over the last 15 years, particularly withthe implementation and refinement of its Wait Assessment metric.Yet, a true passenger based on-time metric still eludes the MTA and the other majorU.S. transit agencies, except for BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, California). Thelatter reaps the benefits from ticketing that requires an exit registration (swipe out)and a 20-year dedication to modeling passenger flows. Further, the effect ofterminated and canceled trains on the commuter railroads — the magnitude of ridersthat are affected by delays and the resulting economic impact of lost work time —has yet to be captured.Finally, despite the high level of disclosure, the MTA’s operational metrics are oftenomitted in discussions of capital investments and the impact they will have onreducing slow, delayed and canceled trains. The average rider doesn’t necessarilyunderstand what new interlockings, switches and signals are, let alone appreciatehow their improvement will enhance their commute. Historically, the use ofperformance metrics at the MTA began as an effort to secure needed capital funds.That linkage, as a tool to promote capital programs to the riding public and electedofficials, has weakened over the years.
The MTA should continue to foster investment in operational and measurement technology, as new technology is providing the means to refine and improve both performance and performance measurement.
There should be a continued pushfor implementation of ATS (Automated Train Supervision) throughout the subwaysystem; AVL (Automatic Vehicle Locator) on buses; contactless fare payment onsubways, buses and railroads; and utilization of web media to provide searchabledatabases of performance metrics, particularly about delay information.