MTA subway performance hits bar it hasn’t seen in nearly six years

July 12, 2019
On-time performance is up, while delays and major incidents are down as MTA continues to implement processes associated with the Subway Action Plan and Save Safe Seconds.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) subway on-time performance reached 81.5 percent in June, which is the first time the statistic has climbed above 80 percent in nearly six years. MTA leadership including Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye, New York City Transit President Andy Byford and Senior Vice President, Department of Subways Sally Librera outlined the improvements on July 11.  

To provide perspective, only 18 months ago, weekday on-time performance dropped to an all-time low of 58 percent. MTA credited the statistical performance improvements to continued efforts surrounding the Subway Action Plan (SAP), launched in July 2017 and the Save Safe Seconds campaign, which launched in December 2018. MTA explains that the SAP has provided a surge of additional union personnel, outside contractors and new tools and methods for the maintaining and improving the system.

MTA says that on-time performance has continued to improve and major incidents have declined to the lowest number since this record has been kept, and other customer-centric performance numbers are also pointing higher. The authority says overall subway performance continued its steady improvement in June 2019, with every weekday metric better than both June 2018 and the average of the past 12 months.

“More than six months of sustained improvements show that our sSubways team’s emphasis on the basics of service and our push to make strategic, institutional changes at every level through the Subway Action Plan is getting solid results that we are proud of,” said MTA Chairman Patrick Foye. “And, with the passage of Central Business District Tolling through the leadership of Governor Cuomo, the best is yet to come.”

In addition to weekday on-time performance reaching its highest level since August 2013, weekday major incident decreased 27.4 percent from June 2018 and weekday train delays decreased 45.9 percent from the same time period in 2018 and represents the lowest level of delays since September 2013.

MTA notes that a contributing factor to the reduction in delays has been the significant progress made in reducing track debris fires, which are significantly down since NYC Transit began using new equipment to address the problem in 2017. MTA says the platform-based mobile vacs and vacuum trains have allowed debris to be cleared at an unprecedented rate. Year to date, track fires are down 61 from 185 to 124, and they are down 130 for the previous 12 months, from 410 to 280.

Positive numbers were also realized in many of NYC Transit’s customer-focused metrics, including Service Delivered, Additional Platform Time, Additional Train Time, and Customer Journey Time Performance, as all metrics were better than one year ago and better than their average performance over the past 12 months.

“Running a subway requires people with the right skills, the right mandate and the right focus to identify and eliminate root causes of delay,” said New York City Transit President Andy Byford. “I asked Sally and her team to focus on getting the basics right and to develop a campaign to complement the work already under way via the Subway Action Plan. Working with our union partners, our Save Safe Seconds campaign has safely speeded up service across the network with more improvements still to come.”  

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.