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MTA Announces Significant Improvements in Subway Service, Best On-Time Performance in Five Years

71 Continental Ave subway station

71st-Continental Avenues subway station (QP)

May 20, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan

The NYC subway reached an on-time performance level last month that has not been seen in more than five years, the MTA reported Sunday.

In April, the subway was on time 79.8 percent of the time, the MTA said, a level that has not been recorded since October 2013. The transit authority also said it saw a significant drop in additional train time—the average unanticipated time riders spend on the train—which sunk to a new low of 53 seconds.

“Month after month we’re making progress in giving our customers the system they deserve, allowing them to spend less time in transit and more time with family, friends, and at their careers,” said Patrick Foye, Chairman and CEO of the MTA. “With an extraordinarily able team heading our agencies, a dedicated and talented workforce, and substantial investment from the state and city through the Subway Action Plan, we’re seeing real improvements – and know that we still have a long way to go.”

These numbers are largely in part due to a 32 percent drop in the number of major incidents from last April, with the number of incidents now matching the fewest since tracking first began in 2015.

The MTA has been taking steps to reduce such incidents.

The agency has been using new track cleaning equipment to target track debris—a primary source of track fires. New platform-based mobile vacuums, as well as vacuum trains that move around the system picking up trash, have helped bring down the number of track fires year-to-date by 52 when compared to the same period in 2018.

“I am hugely encouraged by the sustained improvements we’ve had month over month, to the point that we are now at a performance high of nearly six years,” NYC Transit President Andy Byford said. “These improvements were achieved thanks to our intense focus on investments in the system and improving on the basics through the Subway Action Plan and the Save Safe Seconds campaign, and through the dedication of our 50,000-person workforce. Despite these gains, I believe the best is yet to come as we continue to improve our operations, re-signal our system, and improve our decades old infrastructure.”

The Long Island Rail Road and Metro North both saw improvements last month, the MTA reported. LIRR’s on-time performance hit a level not see since October 2012, coming in at approximately 95.3 percent. Year-to-date, the LIRR’s overall on-time performance has been 93.7 percent, which means 1,645 more on-time trains compared to the year before, the MTA said.

Metro North saw a small bump of 2.1 percent in performance last month as well as a significant reduction in the number of cancelled or terminated trains.

The service announcements come just prior to the MTA announcing that its board members will vote on Wednesday to decide whether to expand access to three-trip, full-fare MetroCards to students who currently have half-fare cards.

The half-fare program provides students K-12 who live at least a half mile from their school with a card that covers a portion of bus fares. Students who use the card are responsible for paying $1.35 in coins for each ride.

The full-fare cards will give those students three free rides each day that can be used on both the bus and the subway.

“This is a social justice and equity issue for students who are forced to pay to go to public school,” said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. “I commend the MTA for working towards a solution to provide more equity in transportation for New York’s students.”

If board members vote in favor of the change, the half-fare program will be eliminated.

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