Commuter rail reports best on-time performance in 9 years, despite dreaded slippery rail

This just in from Keolis:

Keolis Commuter Services, which operates the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail system, finished out the month of October with an unadjusted on-time weekday performance rate of 90.44 percent, the best performance for that month in nearly a decade.

A significant number of delays for the month were caused by trains that had to be operated at lower speeds for safety reasons because of slippery rail conditions. When adjusted for slippery rail and other conditions or incidents not under the control of Keolis, on-time performance was 94.44 percent.

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Leave it to the French to

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Leave it to the French to finally somehow get our trains running almost on time!

VIVE LE FRANCE!

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stats

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What's the definition of "on-time"? Within 5 minutes? 10? 15?

90% means that on average, a regular commuter will experience a delayed train once a week. And these numbers don't tell us about the length of these delays. Is it acceptable if the average commuter experiences one 30-minute delay a week?

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Yeah.

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As I posted on another thread, my train, the 6:15pm Franklin out of South Station, has been late (delayed 5-20 minutes) every night this week. Previously, it would happen on occasion. I am also seeing delays for the Providence as well as the Needham line popping up more. So, while I am happy to see such a high percentage, I am not feeling particularly in a "woo-hoo" mood.

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Exactly. These stats mean

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Exactly. These stats mean nothing without context. If 95% of the time trains were right on time, and 5% of the time there were massive signal failures that delayed every train that day by two hours, that 95% wouldn't seem so impressive.

But, hey, who cares about timeliness when Keolis has extra staff to check passengers' passes on the platform?

https://twitter.com/MBTA_CR/status/666940154863558657

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And does this on time include

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And does this on time include when they drop you off at your final destination? B/c the Needham line comes to a halt by forest hills. I have had commutes that take me 30-40 minutes to get to Bellevue from Back Bay.

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How are slippery rails not

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How are slippery rails not Keolis's fault?

Leaves have fallen in October in New England since, well, forever. Keolis should have come up with a scheme to clean the rails, or otherwise considered this issue when they bid on a contract with an on-time guarantee.

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It's like saying about last

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It's like saying about last winter: "When adjusted for snow and cold and other conditions or incidents not under the control of Keolis, on-time performance was 97 percent."

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Exactly: How convenient to remove all the causes of delays!

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It's all well and good for them to wave their hands and say, but all these delays were not our fault! but the fact remains that on those trips, the trains still didn't run on time.

It's fine to categorize the delays, and maybe even to label some of the categories "not our fault", but delay is a delay is a delay. We're still late to work, missing dinner with our families, etc. whether the reason is "slippery rail" or Keolis incompetence. Hiding actual problems behind "not our fault" and claiming we're doing better than we are is counter to the goal of fixing the problems - it may actually make things worse.

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Did you miss the part where

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Did you miss the part where they said on time performance was 90% unadjusted, and 94% adjusted for things beyond their control?

Because they're not "hiding" anything. They're reporting the real number and the "not our fault" number.

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slippery raills...

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...are no joke...last winter we skidded right past Uphams Corner and had to back up to collect passengers who were still swearing when they got on the train. We were hoping the South Station rails were not so slippery that day...it's an ad-ven-cha with these guys.

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Yes. (Even though that's a

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Yes. (Even though that's a false choice.)

Divide the cost of buying and operating a few rail washer vehicles by the number of people in the MBTA district, and send me a bill.

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Interesting timing. My boss

Interesting timing. My boss takes the first train of the morning into Boston from Beverly, and that train did not come today.

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im laughing

better release these really obscure stats before the snow comes so we can point back to that time we didnt suck****

****maybe, because our analysis means nothing at all

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I have some problems with the

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I have some problems with the Commuter Rail (notably the frightening lack of pre-boarding inspections of the trains and the fact that conductors block off entire cars to passengers so they can lounge by themselves), but how is this not a good thing? They're doing better. There will ALWAYS be anecdotes about how they aren't doing well, and how 90% on time doesn't mean 90% on time. But guess what, it's still better than it used to be!

If the next measurement doesn't show more improvements, then absolutely take them to the cleaners. But until then why aren't we happy that it has gotten better?

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I have never witnessed conductors blocking off entire cars to

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passengers so they can use it as their private car. If the train is non-rush hour, they may block cars so as to have passengers sit only in one or two cars for their ease of ticket collecting. However, I was on the 10:35pm Franklin last night and they had to open another car because the high number of people traveling at that time.

In regards to pre-boarding inspections, I have no idea what they do before I board - they might indeed be doing a once over of the cars. Honestly, if someone wanted to walk on with a bomb in his/her pocket, no pre-boarding inspection will catch that.

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Definitely about concentrating passengers

I don't think it is about having a private car, either - if that were the case, they wouldn't seat me in there with my bike.

I have also seen them open a car for passengers with strollers (there are quite a few at mid-day) which makes for a convenient "cry room".

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They open those cars so the

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They open those cars so the strollers do not have to be carried down the steps. Sounds like they are opening it to the High Platform or the Mini-High Platform accesss...

~~~~~~~~~~

The Mini-High Platform can best be described as the shorter version of the high level platform. These platforms are typically located at the far end of low-level platforms. Unlike High level platforms, mini-high platforms offers step-free access to only 2 doors of a commuter rail train (typically near the front or back). Because of this, customers who require step-free access are encouraged to inform the commuter rail conductor of their destination. This will help to ensure that you are in the appropriate car if you are exiting at a station that has a mini-high platform.
http://www.mbta.com/riding_the_t/accessible_services/default.asp?id=21541

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Not on the Lowell Line

They have to be carried up and down like everything else.

You know why they open a separate car? Spaces for the strollers. This is particularly true when the cars that they have open are the old style ones with far more limited space at the ends - they open up a pink one and it can be stroller city in there.

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The rule is 1 pair of door

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The rule is 1 pair of door per conductor. So if a train has only one conductor, they can only use up to 2 cars. Generally off-peak trains will have 2 conductors and use 2 cars (or 3 if ridership warrants), opening 2 sets of doors.

And yes, they do walk through the trains between runs.

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If they did, they would have

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If they did, they would have seen and smelled the vomit that was tweeted at them by a passenger boarding at North Station a few weeks ago.

if they did, they would have turned off the blasting heat on the car I got on a few months ago.

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I have been on many non-rush

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I have been on many non-rush hour trains with 2 - 4 blocked off cars, and then those of us on the only cars available were packed in like cattle. Meanwhile, the conductors are using one of the other cars just for themselves.

I often get on a ~9AM train (inbound), the first car is always blocked off, the rest are always just about full, and the conductor always goes in to it by herself. No reason not to allow passengers in, and her being away from the passengers means she won't be around to provide assistance if it is needed.

They do NOT do pre-boarding. I got on a car during the summer that had the heat blasting. Literally blasting, the vents were kicking out hot air. 10 minutes later, after collecting fares, the conductor went to a panel, hit a button, and cool air came out. If they checked the car before boarding they would have fixed it then. Someone boarding at North Station tweeted an image of vomit in a car a few weeks ago. They were one of the first to get on the car, it was already there and if the conductors had walked through they would have seen and smelled it.

They don't check the cars, and they block them off to use as their own private areas.

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inspections

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… notably the frightening lack of pre-boarding inspections of the trains …

Not sure what you're getting at here. What sorts of inspections are lacking?

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They don't walk through the

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They don't walk through the cars before allowing passengers to board.

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