Metropolitan Transportation Authority - New York City Transit


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NYS Comptroller


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Metropolitan Transportation Authority - New York City Transit
Train On-Time Performance

Issued: August 12, 2015
Link to full audit report 2014-S-56
Link to 90-day response

To determine whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit trains run on time, and whether actions are taken to address recurring problems that reduce on-time performance. The audit covers the period March 1, 2013 to January 23, 2015.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) New York City Transit (Transit) provides rapid transit services in New York City, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The MTA’s website lists schedules for each of the subways’ 20 interconnected lines and three shuttles.

Sometimes, a subway train is canceled (i.e., does not depart from the terminal, or departs later than half the headway time), or is abandoned en route (i.e., skips any scheduled station stops or fails to operate on its scheduled route in accordance with the timetable). Transit’s Department of Subways (Subways) considers a train on time when it is not canceled or abandoned en route, and it arrives at the end terminal not more than five minutes after its scheduled arrival time.

Subways’ Department of Rapid Transit Operations uses its Rail Control Center’s Performance Reporting and Operations Analysis Group to report train delay percentages for each line, delays by categories, and on-time performance (OTP) statistics to management and the MTA Board’s Transit and Bus Committee (Committee). The information is provided on a two-month delay.

Subways collects information of its daily operations pertaining to delays and distributes it the next day, via the Statistical Transportation Analysis and Reporting System (STARS), to its district managers and Transit support units, such as Maintenance of Way, Division of Car Equipment, and Operations Planning. OTP statistics are reported separately for weekdays and weekends. For calendar years 2013 and 2014, Subways OTP goal was 91.9 percent.

Key Findings

  • For calendar years 2013 and 2014, Subways’ reports show actual OTP was well below the goal of 91.9 percent. For 2013, weekday OTP averaged 80.5 percent and weekend OTP averaged 85.4 percent. For 2014, weekday OTP averaged 74.0 percent and weekend OTP averaged 81.2 percent. On balance, there has been a persistent decline in OTP during the period.
  • For the period March 2013 through March 2014, Subways reported 498,889 total delays. We reviewed four categories of delays (Right of Way, Employee, Track Gangs, and Car Equipment) that resulted in 269,008 (or 53.9 percent) of the delays to determine the actions Subways took to address their causes and reduce their occurrence. In most cases, Subways took appropriate actions to address individual incidents as they occurred. However, Subways lacked a formal process to assess the underlying causes of the delays and develop comprehensive corrective action plans to help minimize them.
  • According to Subways officials, there are multiple workgroups and committees (including a Delay Management Workgroup) dedicated to improving service and reducing delays. In addition, there are monthly reviews of operational performance performed by the Office of the Senior Vice President. Yet, there was no evidence that any workgroup, committee, or office developed formal plans or programs to communicate initiatives to address the root causes of delays and improve OTP.

Key Recommendations

  • Identify the underlying causes of recurring train delays and develop corrective action plans to proactively address those causes. Such plans should address the effectiveness of workgroup efforts, identify responsible parties, and require written feedback and measurable solutions.
  • Require monthly feedback from Subways managers on the action taken to address recurring categories of train delays.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Manager: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236