According to the MTA (and the commuter railroad industry), a train that arrives within five minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival time is still not late. But an official advisory council says the MTA should set a higher standard than that, and change to a two minute window for the commuter trains. In a new report [pdf], the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA [PCAC] looks at the MTA's online metrics, and finds them wanting:
The problem for riders of both railroads [LIRR and Metro North] is that the standard OTP [On Time Performance] measurement is still unable to capture the true passenger experience. It does not reflect the number of passengers that were delayed each day, or how long they were delayed. It does not reveal how frequently passengers were asked to disembark from a terminated train midway during a trip, nor does it describe the crowding and discomfort they experience as a result. The LIRR, percentage-wise, has more terminated and canceled trains and more trains over 15 minutes late compared to Metro North.
The report concludes that the MTA does provide "some of the most transparent and detailed operational metrics among U.S. transit agencies; and this information is readily available on the MTA website... No major commuter railroad comes close to their level of operational performance disclosure, especially with the recent addition of metrics on delayed and canceled trains in Board materials and on the website... Yet, a true passenger based on-time metric still eludes the MTA." After reviewing the report, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told us, "We are continually working to improve our metrics to provide the most transparent and helpful information for our customers."
But today some LIRR customers want more than just transparency—they want a refund for yesterday morning's ice storm service. WCBS reports that there was "nearly a revolt on the LIRR, as express trains passed right by many passengers-in-waiting without stopping, and many local trains were packed so full that people couldn’t squeeze in." The problem was that the LIRR ran on a weekend schedule, running half the usual number of trains during the morning rush hour, so that the anti-freeze de-icing trains could keep the third rail from freezing. But despite the weekend schedule, commuters still paid the peak fares. "We hate the Long Island Railroad," one commuter declared in no uncertain terms.