Metro: Rail delays more frequent
What Metrorail riders have been saying for months is now backed up by Metrorail statistics: The on-time performance of the trains has declined.
On Thursday morning, the transit authority staff showed the numbers to Metro board members.
Overall on-time performance: It was 93.3 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30. As of December, it had fallen to 89 percent.
Red Line: 94.6 percent for the year ending June 30, and then 87 percent through December.
Blue Line: 90.8 percent through June 30, 88 percent through December.
Orange Line: 93.7 percent through June 30, 91 percent through December.
Green Line: 92.3 percent through June 30, 90 percent through December.
Yellow Line: 93.7 percent through June 30, 90 percent through December.
It's not very likely the numbers have gotten better since December, not with the storms and the service restrictions. The Metro staff, to its credit, did not adjust the figures to discount the effects of special safety precautions or snowstorms. The numbers were meant to reflect the actual experience of riders, said Dave Kubicek, Metro's acting deputy general manager.
Consider those results not only in terms of your experience but also in terms of Metro's goals. Metro wanted things to get better. The target for on-time performance this year was 95 percent of trains.
Expect to see a more detailed report next month. But this morning, Metro board Chairman Peter Benjamin of Maryland asked Kubicek to describe some of the basic factors.
Manual control. The trains are driven by the operators in the front cab, but the train system runs most efficiently under automatic control. Manual control is a safety precaution imposed because investigators and Metro officials believe the control system malfunctioned at the time of the June 22 Red Line crash.
Oldest cars in middle. Placing the 1000 Series rail cars -- oldest in the fleet -- into the middle of the trains was another step following the crash, but it created its own set of problems, Kubicek said. First of all, it's difficult to consistently assemble trains around the old cars. Second, whenever newer cars are linked up with old cars, it creates technical difficulties with train operations that cannot be overcome.
So if you know that, what do you know? You know your train ride is going to be slow for a long time to come. Before trains are restored to automatic control, the National Transportation Safety Board must complete its investigation into the June 22 crash and issue recommendations. Then the transit authority must develop and test a solution. At the very least, that's months away. And there's no timetable at all for ending what's known as the bellying of the 1000 Series cars, except the replacement of those cars with new cars, still several years away. [See Lena H. Sun story about the NTSB decision regarding rail car design.]
February 18, 2010; 2:07 PM ET
Categories: Metro , Safety , transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail
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