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Press Release
September 27, 2017
IMMEDIATE
MTA Launches New Customer-Focused Subway Performance Dashboard Providing Metrics Surpassing Global Standards for Transit Systems

                                            Actual-Customer Data Provides Clear View of Customer Experience from Wait Times to Train Travel Times 

                                             MTA Continuing to Provide Legacy Performance Indicators as Part of Customer Transparency Measures 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today launched a new online dashboard providing customer-focused, detailed performance metrics across the subway system as part of New York City Transit’s Subway Action Plan to improve service and make communication more clear and transparent for the millions of customers who travel on the subways daily. 

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota announced the creation of a new subway performance metrics dashboard for the riding public in July 2017, when he unveiled the multi-phase Subway Action Plan to stabilize the century-old subway system. The new performance dashboard provides more data than ever in a dynamic, user-friendly interface that shows analytical information such as customer wait times, subway car performance, station environment standards, from a computer at any time. 

In developing the new metrics dashboard in-house, New York City Transit reviewed global standards for publicly reported performance data and opted to surpass those standards in the interest of increased transparency. While many transit systems around the world continue to report performance based on antiquated metrics that apply to freight and commuter railroads such as terminal on-time performance, New York City Transit’s new performance dashboard provides data that paints a clearer picture of the customer’s commuting experience down to the subway line or the class of cars used on a subway line. Other transit systems, such as Transport for London, publicly report data such as journey times based on computer models. NYC Transit uses data culled from actual MetroCard entries and actual operations data to provide meaningful analyses of travel times and customer experiences. 

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said: “We have been working hard to implement our new Subway Action Plan by increasing maintenance and adding crews to respond quickly to emergencies that can severely affect service. We have been able to respond to those problems quicker than ever, sometimes restoring service in half the time or less than we could have done just a few years ago, and even though the plan has only been in effect for two months we are already seeing results. With this new subway performance dashboard, we are continuing to hold ourselves accountable to the promises we made in July by letting our customers see for themselves when and where those improvements are happening. These new standards that we are reporting go above and beyond what other transit systems in the world tell their customers. Our new performance metrics show how serious we are about regaining our subway customers’ trust and how determined we are to make improvements that will stick around for years, not just for a month or two.” 

Metrics such as train capacity, customer wait time, train travel time and station environment altogether show the entirety of the customers’ experience from their home subway station, on the platform, traveling on the train, all the way to their final destination. Information on the new performance metrics are outlined below: 

MAJOR INCIDENTS 

This new metric shows the number of incidents each month that delay 50 or more trains, impacting the largest number of customers. Data is displayed by clicking on one or more subway lines, with the total number of incidents reflected by month in one chart and a breakdown of these incidents by cause in a separate bar graph below. Causes are broken down by six categories: track (fires, rail conditions, switch troubles, etc.), signals (equipment or transmissions problems), customer activity resulting in police/medical response (sick customers, crimes or other police investigations), stations & structures (issues with infrastructure such as debris on the right of way, loss of power outside the subway car), car equipment (defective or mechanical subway car issues, including air conditioning failures), and other (power outage, weather, flooding, conditions outside of the system such as bridge openings or nearby unstable buildings). 

CAPACITY PROVIDED 

Also displayed by subway line, this new service delivered metric shows the percentage of trains that are able to provide service to the estimated peak number of customers during the morning and evening rush hours. Factors that can decrease scheduled service include trains being rerouted onto alternate lines or delays that push trains scheduled for rush-hour service to operate past those hours. 

CUSTOMER WAIT TIME 

Provided by subway line, this new performance indicator measures the time that a customer waits for a train compared to the amount of time that a customer should wait according to a train schedule. This new metric, called Additional Platform Time, was pioneered by Transport for London using computer models to account for the customer’s experience. New York City Transit’s data comes from train arrival data from countdown clocks and ridership based on actual MetroCard entries, therefore reflecting decisions made by real customers that choose one line over another at stations served by multiple subway lines or situations such as crowding that could prevent a customer from boarding a train that the person would normally take. This metric provides a better idea of the performance of a subway line from a customer’s prospective, since it reflects the amount of time a customer waits for a train to arrive at the station. 

TRAIN TRAVEL TIME 

A train’s travel time is measured as the average amount of time a customer’s journey is lengthened compared to the train’s travel time as scheduled. This new performance indicator is based on actual customer data from MetroCard entries and train arrival information in stations from real-time train tracking technology. 

SUBWAY CAR 

The mechanical performance of subway cars is measured by the mean distance between failures (MDBF), in miles. Failures are categorized as such when a car-related problem causes a service delay over 5 minutes. Issues include doors failing to close properly, brake issues or failure of indication lights that alert train crews to potential safety issues. Numbers are reported as a 12-month average. While New York City Transit has regularly reported MDBF numbers, for the first time the performance dashboard dissects the data by subway car class and subway line as well as providing data for the subway fleet as a whole. Other transit systems only report mean distance between service failure (MDBSF) when a problem results in the train being taken out of service. 

STATION ENVIRONMENT 

Subway stations are inspected regularly to ensure that the physical appearance, equipment and public information of the stations meet NYC Transit standards. These standards focus on station cleanliness, ensure that fare card machines and turnstiles work properly, and that service information such as maps and service changes are posted and updated. This metric also includes data on the system’s elevators and escalators, which are electronically monitored around the clock. Elevators and escalators that are managed by outside parties, such as private building developers, are inspected by NYC Transit every 8 hours. 

LEGACY INDICATORS 

To ensure continued transparency, NYC Transit is reporting data for legacy indicators such as wait assessment and terminal on-time performance on the new performance dashboard. Wait assessment is measured as the time between arriving trains compared to scheduled service, and does not account for extra service or distinguish between minor service gaps and major service delays. Terminal on-time performance refers to the percentage of trains that meet their scheduled arrival times at their terminals within five minutes of those arrival times, although few subway customers travel entire subway lines from end to end. While these measures are not considered relevant indicators of customer experience, NYC Transit is continuing to collect this data for historical comparisons and continuity. 

Andrew Albert, New York City Transit Riders Council chairman and MTA Board member, said: “The new subway performance dashboard is another step in the right direction toward improving communication with subway customers. The new announcements at subway stations and in trains by the conductors have helped enormously with providing real-time service information to customers, and these new performance metrics help fill in the blanks when it comes to looking at subway service as a whole. I look forward to seeing even more transparency and improvements for customers as New York City Transit moves forward on other parts of the Subway Action Plan.” 

Alex Barron, head of Metro Benchmarking and Associate Director at the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College, said: “The MTA’s new metrics are a significant step forward improving the way they measure and monitor subway service from the customer point of view. They are in line with the best measures in use across the globe, and the MTA should be commended for finding ways to use new technology and data sources to better measure the customer experience. Based on our experience working with the global Community of Metros (CoMET), we believe that these metrics should be adopted.” 

Tabitha Decker, NYC Program Director of TransitCenter, said: “By adopting the ‘Additional Platform Time’ and ‘Additional Train Time’ performance metrics as part of its new dashboard, the MTA has set a new global standard for measuring subway reliability and transparently reporting its performance. This new dashboard provides a strong foundation for improved performance-based management and public accountability.”