Metro reports its on-time rates
Metro's latest report on its own performance shows that Metrorail's on-time performance was slightly better this July than it was a year before, but Metrobuses weren't doing as well as in the previous year.
The monthly scorecards, instituted by Interim General Manager Richard Sarles, track some of the performance indicators that directly affect riders. The latest scorecard, reporting performance in July, is scheduled for presentation to a Metro board committee today.
The results are broad summaries of system-wide performance. For example, Metrorail's on-time rate was calculated at 88.6 percent for this July, compared to 86.4 percent for July 2009. While up slightly from last year, this July's on-time performance had declined slightly from the previous month (89.9 percent for June).
July was the first full month in which Metrorail reduced the number of rush-hour trains on the Red Line, the busiest line, in an attempt to improve the consistency of train arrival times. (Metro had announced plans to do this, but did not note the schedule change on June 27, the date the performance report says it took effect.)
What changed on Red Line
Before June 27: Trains departed Shady Grove and Glenmont every five minutes. Between Grosvenor and Silver Spring, the stations where some trains turn back to increase service at the busiest stations, trains were scheduled to operate every 2-1/2 minutes. There were 44 trains on the line. Of those, 37 were six cars long and seven were eight cars long, for a total of 278 cars.
After June 27: Trains now are scheduled to leave Shady Grove and Glenmont every six minutes. Between Grosvenor and Silver Spring, they are scheduled for every three minutes. A total of 41 trains are assigned to operate, with 22 six cars long and 19 eight cars long, for a total of 284 cars.
So the line has fewer trains, which Metro officials hope will mean that they won't get bunched up at rush hour and have a better chance of maintaining the scheduled I just described.
Red Line riders, have you noticed a difference? I'm not sure the summer, with its lower ridership, is a real test of this plan. We may not really be able to judge it till we see an evaluation for September and the rest of the fall months.
The slight improvement from July to July also is tough to evaluate. July 2009, the benchmark for this particular Vital Signs report, was the month after the Red Line crash, when service was remained disrupted. However, this July had its own problems, with the severe thunderstorms bringing down trees and power lines, and interfering with rail service.
Escalator availability was about the same this July as last year, but had declined slightly compared to this June. Elevator availability also was about the same as last year, but down slightly from June 2010. Nothing encouraging there.
The on-time rate for buses in July was 72.8 percent, down from 77 percent the previous July and slightly down from the 73 percent recorded for June 2010. With buses operating on many congested routes, with plenty of traffic signals and occasional detours, this on-time rate is almost certain to remain below that for Metrorail.
Metro's report says that July's on-time performance continued a three-month string in which nearly three of every four buses kept to its schedule. (As with Metrorail, the transit authority cuts itself some slack in defining "on-time.") Also consistent with the previous months, one out of every four buses ran late 75 percent of the time or was early 25 percent of the time.
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