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Transit geeks, rejoice: The MBTA’s making even more data public

MBTA

Get excited, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority data fanatics: It’s now a whole lot easier to download information on how your bus or subway line has been doing.

The MBTA launched a user-friendly data website in March, called mbtabackontrack.com. It displays easy-to-read ridership and daily on-time performance statistics for its subway, bus, and commuter rail lines. Now, officials are making even more information available, including monthly — not just daily — statistics for subway lines, commuter rail lines, and every single one of the T’s bus lines.

The site goes even further than showing charts: Users can also download Excel spreadsheets that include easy-to-decipher statistics on how well your favorite mode of public transit is running.

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Rachel Bain, assistant secretary of the office of performance management and innovation for the T and the state transportation department, said the T needs to show the public that the agency is tracking performance. Officials are paying attention to your commute, so that they can improve it, she said.

“We know when you’re having a bad day, because we’re watching that bad day, too,” she said.

The website upgrade is part of a more general shift for the agency to become more customer-focused and transparent. The MBTA previously released scorecards that revealed performance metrics, but those stopped during the record-breaking winters in 2015.

The T also plans to upgrade its main site, at mbta.com, which currently has a layout that can be less-than-ideal on a mobile screen and hard to navigate.

MBTA control board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt, who has focused on customer experience during her time on the board, says she’s “incredibly excited” about the new data being available. A transit geek herself, she knows that other planners and T enthusiasts will immediately go to the site to download data.

And for those who aren’t as enthralled with spreadsheets, the site makes measuring on-time performance easier. Instead of just daily statistics, the site includes the monthly or weekly statistics that some are more interested in — and that can help people understand the context of their daily commute.

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“People want to know whether their good or bad commute is normal,” she said.

The new website isn’t exactly going viral: It averages around 2oo to 300 users a day, and about 27,500 users have made more than 35,000 visits to the site since it launched. But officials say they’ve even heard from other transit agencies — such as the one in Portland, Ore. — about how to replicate such a user-friendly website.

“I can definitively say we’re probably the most user-friendly performance dashboard that exists in transit,” said Bain. “We’ve looked.”


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