Tracker 2018

MBTA Performance

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What is the MBTA?

The MBTA owns and operates one of the oldest and largest public transportation agencies in the US, transporting more than 1.2 million passengers daily. The MBTA’s services, or modes, include:

  • Bus - The MBTA operates 175 bus routes directly or via contract, including 116 local routes, 19 key routes (i.e. serving corridors with higher ridership), 28 commuter or express routes, 1 community route, and 11 supplemental routes.

  • Light rail - The MBTA’s primary light rail system, the Green Line, provides services to outlying areas and subway service through the center of the city. The MBTA also operates the Mattapan High Speed Line, which serves as an extension of the Red Line from Ashmont to Mattapan.

  • Heavy rail - The MBTA operates three heavy rail lines: The Red Line, Blue Line, and Orange Line. Collectively, these lines provide core subway services.

  • Commuter Rail - The MBTA’s 14 Commuter Rail lines link cities and towns around the state with downtown Boston. Since July 2014, the Commuter Rail has been operated by Keolis Commuter Services.

  • Boat - The MBTA provides ferry services between downtown Boston, the South Shore, Logan Airport, and Charlestown.

  • Paratransit - The MBTA provides paratransit service via THE RIDE to eligible customers in 58 cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts.

 
 

Scorecard

The MBTA uses performance measures to track progress toward goals, provide accountability and transparency, and plan for investments and programs in the future. There are a number of current initiatives and plans that include goals and performance measures that match or overlap with those included in Tracker. To ensure alignment among these efforts, OPMI has worked closely with MBTA and MassDOT staff and MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) members in the development and presentation of these performance measures and targets. The following existing plans and performance tools are related to Tracker:

  • MBTA Service Delivery Policy

  • MBTA Strategic Plan

  • Focus40

  • MBTA Dashboard

The 2020 targets below represent the MBTA's short-to-medium term goals. Additional longer term targets will be set as long-term planning efforts and capital programs proceed.

 
Performance Goal Performance Measure Target Met? July 1 2017 - June 30 2018 (FY18) Change from FY17 2020 Year Target 2022 Year Target Long-term Target
Customer Experience Subway reliability - Red Line Target Met - Decreasing Performance 91.4% –0.7% 90% 90% 95%
Subway reliability - Blue Line Target Met - Increasing Performance 95.2% +0.2% 90% pending evaluation in capital program pending evaluation in capital program
Subway reliability - Orange Line Target Met - Decreasing Performance 92.6% –1.5% 90% 90% 95%
Subway reliability - Green Line Target Not Met - Increasing Performance 77.6% +1.1% 90% pending evaluation in capital program pending evaluation in capital program
Bus reliability - Silver Line Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 79.3% –0.9% 80% pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign
Bus reliability - Key bus routes - 75.9% no change 80% pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign
Bus reliability - Other routes Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 62.7% –0.1% 75% pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign
Bus service operated Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 97.7% –0.6% 99.5% pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign
Bus passenger comfort Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 93.8% –0.4% 96% pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign pending evaluation in Better Bus Project and network redesign
Commuter Rail reliability (adjusted) Target Met - Increasing Performance 93.7% +0.5% 92% 92% pending evaluation in capital program
Commuter Rail service operated Target Not Met - Increasing Performance 99.7% +0.1% 100% 100% pending evaluation in capital program
Boat reliability Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 96.1% –1.5% 97% 98% pending evaluation in capital program
The RIDE reliability Target Met - Increasing Performance 92.9% +1.0% 90% 90% pending evaluation in capital program
Platform accessibility (Rapid Transit, excluding surface stops) Target Not Met - Increasing Performance 93.1% +0.7% 94.2% 95.7% 100%
Vehicle accessibility (Green Line) Target Met - Increasing Performance 99.1% +0.5% 99% 99% 100%
Safety Fatalities as a result of transit incidents Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 27 +1 towards 0 towards 0 towards 0
Budget & Capital Performance Fare recovery ratio Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 42.8% –0.3% 43% 45% 50%
Average elapsed time between advertising and NTP - 100 90 90 90
Scorecard Legend
Target Met - Decreasing Performance
Target Met - Decreasing Performance
Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance
Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance
Target Met - Increasing Performance
Target Met - Increasing Performance
Target Not Met - Increasing Performance
Target Not Met - Increasing Performance
 

In addition to the measures listed above, for which the MBTA has set 2-year, 4-year, and long term targets, the agency also tracks performance in a number of other areas, including:

  • Subway passenger travel time

  • Commuter rail reliability (unadjusted)

  • Mean miles between failures

  • Asset condition

  • Projects completed, ongoing, and planned

  • Ridership

  • Coverage

Performance in these areas are captured in the report below, to give greater context to performance across measures where targets have been set.

Customer Experience

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MBTA customers expect reliable, comfortable, and accessible service from the beginning until the end of their trip. The indicators below show the most complete picture of performance on each mode based on available data.

Subway Reliability

Image of Orange Line train stopped at a station platform.

photo credit: MBTA Customer Experience

Subway Reliability

From FY17 to FY18, Green Line reliability improved by about 1 percentage point, meaning fewer Green Line passengers had to wait a long time for a train. However, at 77.6%, Green Line performance remained below the 90% target in FY18.

Blue Line, Orange Line, and Red Line reliability all remained over the 90% target. Blue Line reliability improved slightly to 95.2%. Orange Line and Red Line reliability each fell from FY17, to 92.6% and 91.4% respectively.

For daily updates on Subway reliability, see the MBTA Performance Dashboard.

Subway reliability is the percent of customers who wait no longer than the scheduled time between trains. These calculations, which take the experiences of individual customers into account, are available since 2016. Calculations do not yet account for the effects of overcrowding or bus shuttles. For an illustration, see the FAQ of the MBTA Performance Dashboard.

Passenger Travel time

From FY17 to FY18, passenger travel time performance increased from 96% to 98% on the Green Line, meaning fewer passengers had to spend longer than expected on board a Green Line train.

Over these two years, passenger travel time performance fell between 1 and 4 percentage points on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines.

Subway passenger travel time is a supplemental reliability measure which does not have its own targets. It is the percent of customers whose time spent on board a train is within 3 minutes of the scheduled travel time. These calculations, which take the experiences of individual customers into account, are available since approximately 2016. A combined measure is under development that will incorporate both wait times and travel times.

 

Commuter Rail Reliability

Bi-level Commuter Rail coaches at South Station. Photo credit: Keolis

Bi-level Commuter Rail coaches at South Station. Photo credit: Keolis

Commuter Rail Reliability (Adjusted)

Commuter Rail reliability improved to 93.7% in FY18, half a percentage point above FY17 performance, and slightly above FY16 levels. These figures include adjustments for factors outside of the control of Keolis, the operator of Commuter Rail services

Unadjusted reliability, which measures on-time arrivals without regard to the causes of late trains, was 89.3% in FY18, an improvement of 0.4 percent from FY17.

To view performance specific to one Commuter Rail line, select “All Lines” above the chart and choose a specific line.

Commuter Rail reliability is the percent of trains that arrive at their final stop no more than 5 minutes later than scheduled. This report focuses on adjusted performance, reflecting how well Keolis met is contractual requirements for operating Commuter Rail service. When delays are outside the control of Keolis, certain late trains are adjusted to on-time. Data is available since Keolis assumed Commuter Rail operations on July 1, 2014.

For daily updates on Commuter Rail reliability, see unadjusted data on the MBTA Back on Track Dashboard.

Commuter Rail Service Operated

In FY18, trains ran (meaning they were not cancelled) for 99.7% of scheduled Commuter Rail train trips. This is an improvement of 0.1 percent from FY17, but a decrease of 0.2 percent from FY16.

To view performance specific to one Commuter Rail line, select “All Lines” above the chart and choose a different line.

 

Commuter Rail service operated is a supplemental reliability measure. It is the percent of scheduled train trips that ran at least part of their route. When a train is cancelled, it lowers both Commuter Rail reliability and Commuter Rail service operated. Data is available since Keolis assumed Commuter Rail operations on July 1, 2014.

 

Bus Reliability and Comfort

Bus Reliability

Silver Line reliability is trending slightly downward, and in FY18 fell just below the 80% target to 79.3%. Reliability on key bus routes has been trending upward, and stabilized at 75.9% in both FY17 and FY18. Other Bus routes remain below their 75% target in FY18.

Bus reliability is how often buses depart within a few minutes of the expected times. For definitions and an illustration, see the FAQ of the MBTA Performance Dashboard. Before April 2016, calculations used slightly different definitions, with results differing by +/-1 percentage point.

Bus reliability is reported separately for Silver Line, Key Bus, and Other Bus routes. Higher targets for Silver Line and Key Bus routes reflect the larger number of customers that rely on each route.

For daily updates on Bus reliability, see unadjusted data on the MBTA Performance Dashboard.

Bus Service Operated

Out of all Silver Line, Key Bus, and Other Bus trips scheduled for FY18, 97.7% operated as scheduled. The reduction in operated service from a high of 98.5% in FY16 means that more Bus trips did not run at all.

Bus service operated is a supplemental reliability measure. It is the percent of scheduled bus trips that completed their route. When a bus trip does not run, it lowers bus service operated but does not affect bus reliability.

Bus service operated is reported for Silver Line, Key Bus, and Other Bus routes together.

Bus Passenger Comfort

In FY18, 93.8% of passenger time on buses was spent in comfortable conditions. The reduction in comfort performance versus the previous two years means that bus customers experienced more crowding.

Bus passenger comfort measures how well the MBTA provides reasonable capacity to ensure that passengers are not experiencing crowded conditions more often than necessary.

Bus passenger comfort is the percent of passenger time on board buses that is spent in comfortable conditions. All passengers are counted as uncomfortable whenever the number of standees is more than 40% of seated capacity of a bus. During off-peak periods when the number of standees is more than 25% of seated capacity, those standees are also counted as uncomfortable.

Bus passenger comfort data covers the Fall of each fiscal year, when customers typically encounter the most crowded conditions on board MBTA buses.

Boat Reliability

Boat reliability fell in FY18 to 96.1%, below the 2020 target of 97%.

Boat reliability is the percent of ferry and commuter boat trips that arrive at their final destination no more than 5 minutes later than scheduled. Boat reliability reported here is adjusted to account for extreme weather events that made the harbor or dock unavailable to operate within safely.

 

The RIDE Reliability

The RIDE reliability rose to 92.9% in FY18, its highest level in the past 5 years and above the target of 90%.

The annual RIDE reliability indicator measures how promptly the vehicles arrive at the pickup location for each completed trip. It is the percentage of completed trips where customers were picked up no later than 15 minutes after the scheduled pickup time.

 

Rapid Transit Platform Accessibility

The ability for all customers to reach a train or Silver Line platform depends on the presence of elevators where they’re needed, and how often those elevators are in service.

Station Design

In FY18, Rapid Transit lines served 155 stations and surface stops, of which 118 (76%) were accessible. One station, Wollaston, was inaccessible until it closed in January 2018 for renovations.

Elevator Uptime

In FY18, 175 MBTA elevators were in service during 99.4% of service hours, the same performance as the previous two years.

Side-by-side redundant elevators at Government Center, which allow access to the Blue Line platforms even when one elevator is unavailable.

Side-by-side redundant elevators at Government Center, which allow access to the Blue Line platforms even when one elevator is unavailable.

Platform Accessibility (excluding surface stops)

Rapid Transit platform accessibility depends on station design, elevator uptime, and the configuration of elevators within each station. This indicator measures accessibility at 62 stations and excludes 93 surface stops on the Green, Silver, and Mattapan Lines.

Rapid Transit platform accessibility rose 0.7% to 93.1% between FY17 and FY18. Performance in 2018 was below the 2020 target, although most of the remaining gap will be filled once Wollaston re-opens as an accessible station.

Rapid Transit platform accessibility indicates how often elevators provide access to platforms at Red, Orange, Blue, Green, and Silver Line stations, excluding surface stops on the Green Line and Silver Line. A platform is counted as accessible when elevators required to reach the street and any transfer platforms are in service. A platform is also counted as accessible when a pre-announced shuttle bus provides access during planned elevator maintenance.

 

Green Line Vehicle Accessibility

Image of passengers boarding a low-floor accessible Green Line vehicle.

Image of passengers boarding a low-floor accessible Green Line vehicle.

In FY18, 99.1% of Green Line trains included at least one low-floor accessible vehicle, an increase from 98.6% the previous two years. Most Green Line trains consist of two vehicles: one low-floor accessible traincar, and another traincar which has stairs at every door.

Even from an accessible platform, customers can encounter barriers boarding some Green Line vehicles (train cars). Vehicle accessibility is the percent of train trips that include at least one ADA-compliant vehicle that a customer can access. This measure is available for the Green Line and is under development for the Commuter Rail.

 

Safety

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Fatalities as a Result of Transit Incidents

In FY18, there were 27 fatalities as a result of MBTA transit incidents, similar to 26 fatalities in FY17 but still well above previous levels in FY14-FY16. Commuter Rail represented the largest component of these fatalities, and the largest component of the increase. The increases in Commuter Rail fatalities correlate with increases in trespasser strike fatalities across the country, and increases in suicide across the state.

In response, the MBTA created a Commuter Rail Collision Reduction Committee, with stakeholders and subject matter experts on the national, state, and local level working collaboratively to address the issue. The MBTA has also partnered with Operation Life Saver, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities, and injuries near railroad tracks through education and enforcement, as well as collaborating and advertising with Samaritans, a suicide prevention organization that serves the greater Boston area.

System Condition

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Mean Miles Between Failures

Mean Miles Between Failures (MMBF) measures the ability of transit vehicles to travel in service without being interrupted by mechanical failures. The measure differs across transit modes due to their differing operating characteristics and vehicle types. For example, MMBF is higher for Heavy Rail in part because Heavy Rail stations are further apart and because only buses and Light Rail have to cross intersections and operate in mixed traffic. Higher values are better, indicating that vehicles travel longer distances between each failure, on average.

Mean miles between failures (MMBF) is the average number of miles that a vehicle travels before encountering a mechanical failure that takes the vehicle out of service. MMBF measures the effectiveness of vehicle maintenance within in the context of the mechanical reliability of MBTA’s existing fleet.

Heavy rail

Blue Line MMBF continued to improve in FY18 to about 80,600, reflecting a concerted effort focused on vehicle maintenance and the line’s newer fleet. Red Line and Orange Line MMBF each fell to about 45,700 each.

Light Rail

Green Line MMBF continued to improve in FY18 to about 8,200 in part due to continuing progress towards rehabilitating the oldest vehicles in its fleet.

Bus

Bus and trolleybus MMBF increased from about 11,700 in FY17 to about 22,400 in FY18.

 

Asset Condition

The MBTA delivers service to its customers using tens of thousands of vehicles, facilities, and infrastructure elements. The condition of these assets informs MBTA strategies for maintenance and replacement. The data below follows FTA guidelines for Transit Asset Management reporting.

Revenue Vehicle condition

FTA standards measure how much of a fleet is older than a benchmark age representing a vehicle’s usable life; a lower percentage reflects a newer fleet. The table below shows details by mode.

From FY17 to FY18, the Bus Condition measure jumped from 3% to 25% of vehicles aged 14 years or older. During that year a large portion of the bus fleet turned 14 years old, even though the average fleet age remained slightly over 7 years. Over the next two years the MBTA will replace 194 of the oldest buses in its fleet.

The Heavy Rail Vehicle Condition measure grew from 45% in FY17 to 58% in FY18 as more Red Line cars passed 31 years of age. All Orange Line and Red Line cars will be replaced over the next five years, which will improve this metric.

Type of Vehicle FY17 Performance FY18 Performance FY18 # of Vehicles Metric
Bus 3% 25% 1022 buses and trolleybuses % aged 14+ years
Light Rail 45% 46% 205 train cars % aged 31+ years
Heavy Rail 45% 58% 432 train cars % aged 31+ years
Commuter Rail 15% 11% 520 locomotives and coaches % aged 39+ years (57+ for some rebuilt coaches)
Boat 0% 0% 4 ferries % aged 42+ years
The RIDE 29% 35% 763 vans, minivans, and autos % aged 7+ years (6+ years for autos)

Track condition

FTA standards measure the percent of track distance having speed restrictions. Speed restrictions are track segments where maintainers have reduced speeds in order to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.

Light Rail speed restrictions were stable at 9% in FY18 while Heavy Rail speed restrictions grew from 7% in FY17 to 12% in FY18. Multiple track upgrade programs are underway to reduce speed restrictions.

Type of Track FY17 Performance FY18 Performance FY18 Track Length Metric
Light Rail 9% 9% 51 miles % with speed restrictions
Heavy Rail 7% 12% 79 miles % with speed restrictions
Commuter Rail n/a 1% 664 miles % with speed restrictions

Revenue vehicle condition is the percent of vehicles that transport customers and are at or beyond their Useful Life Benchmark (ULB), which represents the end of their expected life cycle based on the type and age of the vehicle.

Track condition is the percent of directional route miles where trains must reduce speeds due to track conditions. For example, if trains on a heavy rail line travel 10 miles round trip but must slow down for 1 mile in just one direction due to bridge construction, the Track condition metric would be 10%.

Budget & Capital Performance

photo credit: Customer Experience Department MBTA

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 Fare Recovery Ratio

In FY18 - a year without a fare increase - the MBTA recovered 42.8% of its operating expenses from fares and passes, a decrease of 0.4% from FY17. In this same year, fare revenues were slightly lower than expected, while expenses tracked close to projections.

The Fare Recovery Ratio is a ratio of the revenue received from fares and passes to the total operational expenses. This measure does not include expenses due to debt.

Ratios closer to 100% indicate that passengers directly pay for more of the cost of operating transit service. The measure is one way of looking at the cost effectiveness of the services that are being provided.

 

Capital Projects

Over the past five years, the MBTA has invested $3.8 billion in capital projects. Of this spending, $2.6 billion funded State of Good Repair (SGR) projects, which replace and upgrade assets such as vehicles and stations. The remainder funded system expansion projects such as the Green Line Extension and Silver Line 3 to Chelsea. In the next five years, the MBTA plans to more than double this investment to $8.0 billion, including $6.7 billion for SGR.

Number of Projects Completed, Ongoing, and Planned

In FY18, the MBTA completed 26 projects and continued work on 50 projects past the end of this fiscal year. In FY19, the MBTA plans to start 49 projects.

Percentage of Projects Completed on/Under Time, and
Percentage of Projects Completed On/Under Budget

These indicators are not currently available, because the MBTA’s financial system is grant- and funding-centric rather than project-centric. The MBTA is in the process of implementing a Project Management Information System (PMIS) which will enrich its ability to report by project. For example, percentage of projects on or under budget will be available after the cost module of the PMIS is implemented in 2020.

Average Elapsed Time between Advertising and Notice to Proceed

On average in FY18, when the MBTA advertised a contract to advance a capital project, it selected a contractor and approved work to begin within 100 days, longer than the target of 90 days.

Project counts include capital construction projects and vehicle engineering projects such as vehicle rebuilds and replacements. These categories of capital projects are generally delivered via outside contracts, and together represent 78% of all MBTA capital spending.

Capital construction projects are counted as complete at the point of substantial completion. Vehicle engineering projects are counted as complete when all new or rebuilt vehicles have been delivered.

Sustainable Transportation

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Ridership

Customers completed 372 million unlinked passenger trips in total across all MBTA services in FY18. From FY17 to FY18, annual ridership declined by 3% while average weekday ridership experienced a smaller decline of 2%. These changes are similar to those experienced by other large US transit agencies over this time period. 

Data for FY18 is preliminary and may be adjusted in the future. In addition, year-to-year data is not always directly comparable as the MBTA continues to make improvements in data quality.

Ridership tells us the number of rides the MBTA system provides per year. Unlinked passenger trips are shown here in accordance with industry standard. This means that each time a vehicle or train is boarded, it counts as one unlinked trip.

Annual Ridership

In total across FY18, Heavy Rail, Light Rail, and Bus accounted for 90% of systemwide ridership. Heavy Rail ridership was stable at about 163 million unlinked passenger trips, while Light Rail (Green and Mattapan Lines) ridership fell approximately 9% versus FY17 and Bus fell 3%.

Average weekday ridership

On an average weekday in FY18, Light Rail ridership fell approximately 9%  versus FY17. Ridership on The RIDE fell 4%, not including trips taken on Uber/Lyft/Curb vehicles through the On-Demand Paratransit Pilot Program. Other decreases were much smaller, while weekday Ferry ridership grew 4%.

Access to Transit

Residents are more likely to use transit if they can conveniently reach a transit stop that provides frequent service. In addition, transit service is especially important to residents who do not have a car or who would spend a high proportion of their income on car ownership.

These coverage indicators measure access to transit within a half-mile walking distance. Additional residents may access transit by car or bicycle.

Coverage is the proportion of people within the 59 cities and towns of MBTA’s core service area who live within one-half mile of MBTA transit service. Separate metrics evaluate (a) base transit access by all residents, (b) frequent service access within dense areas, and (c) base transit access by low-income households. Calculations are based on walking distances from every bus stop, rapid transit station, commuter rail station, and boat dock served by transit in Fall of 2017.

Dense neighborhoods are U.S. Census block groups having at least 7,000 residents per square mile. A stop receives frequent service if any combination of routes arrives every 15 minutes all day on weekdays and every 20 minutes all day on weekends, or more frequently.

Base Coverage 

The MBTA provides some transit service within a half mile of 79.4% of residents across the core service area.

Frequent Service Coverage

The MBTA provides frequent transit service within a half mile of 59.4% of those residents within dense areas in the core service area.

Low-income Household Coverage

The MBTA provides some transit service within a half mile of 85.8% of low-income households across the core service area.

 
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