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MBTA unveils simpler system for performance statistics

Riders exited a train at the Park Street stop on the Red Line.Kieran Kesner for The Boston Globe/File 2015

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is now releasing weekly statistics to confirm what many of you already knew: Your train or your bus was late.

On Monday, the T released the first of its revised, brightly colored "score cards" that trumpet for all to see the on-time rates of the Red, Orange, and Blue subway lines, the Silver line, bus routes, and commuter rail trains.

The score cards come as part an effort by the Baker administration to make the T more accountable after a winter that repeatedly broke the transit system and fractured the public's trust in it amid record-breaking snowfall.


The cards may not, in and of themselves, present a solution to subpar service, but inconvenienced commuters will at least have the satisfaction of knowing the T knows it made them late.

"Whenever people have expectations of what their service is, and when they experience a particularly bad week, we want them to know that, 'You're not crazy, and that actually happened,' " said Monica G. Tibbits-Nutt, a member of the board Baker helped create to oversee the T.

The T has in the past released reliability data, often in the form of various kinds of score cards, most recently monthly. But many of the statistics would easily fly over the heads of the average commuter: how many bus trips were dropped the month before, how far a train travels before it breaks down, how many locomotives are available for the commuter rail.

Keolis, the company that runs the rail service for the MBTA, also publicizes on-time ratings for its trains. But it gives the "adjusted" figure that excludes trains that are late for reasons Keolis considers beyond its control. For example, if a signal owned by Amtrak breaks down and makes a train late, that doesn't count.


That kind of excuse doesn't soothe many commuters waiting for those late trains, however, and the weekly score cards count every single late train, regardless of fault.

Incidentally, Keolis did pretty well last week: Four of fourteen commuter rail lines had more than 90 percent of its trains run on time during peak hours every day last week.

The new data is geared toward giving customers a better idea of how the T fares when most people are using it. Instead of releasing overall percentages of on-time trains, the score cards rate performance during peak hours, as well as the rest of the day.

Results that come in lower than the standards the T has set for itself are marked in red. The T aims to operate 75 percent of its subway trains and buses on time, and 90 percent of its commuter rail trains on time.

Among the best scores released Monday: 93 percent of Silver Line buses arrived on time during peak hours on Sept. 23; and for the 15 bus routes with the heaviest ridership, between 81 percent and 84 percent of the buses arrived within five minutes of their scheduled times on each day during the commute.

The rest of the bus routes fared much worse: About 54 percent of other buses arrived on time during peak hours on Sept. 24. For those routes, those bus routes performed the best during the commute on Sept. 21 — and still, only 62 percent arrived on time during that day's commutes.


The score cards rate subway performance according to the time between trains. On the Red Line, a new train should arrive every nine minutes during peak commute hours (or even quicker at the stations between JFK/UMass and Alewife). But on Monday, Sept. 21, only 58 percent of trains departed according to that schedule.

T officials attributed that result to the delays caused when a man was struck and killed by a train at JFK/UMass station.

Frank DePaola, the general manager of the T, said a disabled train resulted in only 59 percent of Red Line trains departing on schedule in peak hours on Thursday, Sept. 24.

DePaola blamed the Orange Line's poor performance on its outdated trains and decrepit tracks: During last week's commute, between 60 percent and 66 percent of trains during peak hours departed on time. For the newest subway line, the Blue Line, the on-time rates ranged from 82 percent to 87 percent each day last week.

The Green Line isn't included yet because it employs a different tracking system, Tibbits-Nutt said, but T officials hope to include it by the end of the year.

Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.