MTA Touts New Numbers Showing Ridership Up, Delays Down — Though Some Riders Disagree

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The MTA is giving itself a pat on the back after numbers show marked improvement for timeliness — but not all riders are ready to board the transit agency's comeback train.

Chairman Pat Foye called it "another great month ... across all our agencies," and the MTA even has numbers to back up that claim.

Subways were on time 83 percent of the time for the month of January, the best numbers during that time in seven years. Long Island Rail Road was on time at an even better clip — 93 percent of rides, the best January in eight years.

At the top of the list was Metro-North, which had its best month in six years with 97 percent of trains operating on schedule. However, that number may be slightly misleading, as while riders seemed satisfied with the service lately, many have noticed their trips are longer than they used to be.

When asked by NBC New York if the agency has padded the schedules (like airlines have been known to do), Metro-North President Cathy Rinaldi said: "Let me put it this way — we've surveyed our customers, they want to know when they're going to get into Grand Central. Reliability is the important component."

As for LIRR, perhaps it's been the unseasonably calm and temperate winter that has helped the agency avoid delays, but it is still a far cry from summer 2017 when Gov. Cuomo dubbed the transit nightmare as "summer of hell."

The MTA says they’ve turned the corner with a more aggressive construction schedule on nights and weekends. That move came after an A train in Harlem derailed in 2017, leading to Gov. Cuomo declaring a state of emergency for the subways.

Since then, billions of dollars have been budgeted to replace the signals over the next decade. And while old signals are still in operation, delays are far less frequent.

"I really like my line. So I would say yes, they have been better generally," said Manhattan resident Ellie Houghtaling.

But not everyone agrees with those numbers, with one rider telling NBC New York he still deals with delays "all the time," and calling the claims that the MTA is on time more now than two years ago an outright lie.

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