New Yorkers who have noticed their subway commute isn’t quite as painstaking as it used to be aren’t imagining things, as new data shows trains are getting through the system more quickly.
The MTA on Monday released new “running time” statistics showing the time it takes for trains to travel between terminals has improved on every line from November 2018 to November 2019, with a weekday on-time performance this past November of 81.8 percent, up 17 percent from the previous year. MTA officials said in a press release that it was the sixth straight month that they saw on-time performance of over 80 percent. The last time this happened was in 2013, according to the MTA.
This improvement, which the MTA attributed to the success of the Subway Action Plan and the Save Safe Seconds campaign, comes as the transit agency reports an upswing in subway ridership.
Officials believe the recent trend in on-time performance is attracting riders back to the subway system. October 2019 – the most recent month with confirmed data – had six days with more than 6 million customers on the subway, the first time that has happened since December 2016.
“The data doesn’t lie: subway service is demonstrably better, more customers are taking the subways, and the service continues to improve each month thanks to the hard work of our employees and smarter operations,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye in a press release.
The MTA referred to the new “running time” metric as the time it takes for trains to travel from terminal to terminal, and said it’s using new technology to better track where trains are in large parts of the subway system.
Travelers using the 7 and 7 express lines are in luck, as that’s where the agency reported the biggest improvement of any line in 2019. Running times were, respectively, 9.2 percent (3.5 minutes) and 10.5 percent (more than 4.5 minutes) faster last month than in November 2018.
Breaking down subway speeds
Overall, the numbered lines (1,2,3,4,5,6 & 7 trains) are running close to 4 percent, or about 2.5 minutes, faster than last year, and close to 6 percent, or about 3.5 minutes, faster than in 2017.
On lettered lines, trains are running about 2 percent, or about 1.5 minutes, faster than 2018, and close to 3 percent, or about 2 minutes, faster than in 2017.
Major incidents down
In addition to quicker trips, straphangers may have noticed less delays due to problems in the system. The MTA reported that weekday major incidents, which include disruptions like track fires, decreased by nearly half — 49.3 percent — from November 2018, dropping from 67 incidents to 34 incidents in November 2019. Furthermore, weekday train delays decreased 42.5 percent from last November, from 51,964 to 29,863.