Commuter rail riders ‘somewhat satisfied’
Keolis poll shows customer satisfaction rising
COMMUTER RAIL RIDERS overall are “somewhat satisfied” with the rail system’s performance, according to internal polls commissioned by Keolis Commuter Services that have shown steady but slow improvement over the last four years.
In a poll taken of 4,268 passengers riding trains between May 6 and May 12, the commuter rail system received an overall satisfaction rating of 5 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being extremely dissatisfied and 7 being extremely satisfied.
The 5 rating, meaning somewhat satisfied, was just below the 5.1 the system received a year ago and a whole point above the 4 the system received in a poll taken in spring 2015. A rating of 4 is neutral, meaning the respondent was neither satisfied or dissatisfied.
The overall satisfaction scores varied by line, with lines connecting to North Station generally doing better than lines leaving from South Station. Newburyport, at 5.5, received the highest ranking among trains leaving from North Station, while the Fitchburg and Rockport lines were the lowest at 4.8. Trains leaving South Station had more variability, ranging from a high of 5.6 on the Fairmount line to 4.7 on the Providence line and 4.6 on the Franklin, Greenbush, and Plymouth/Kingston lines.
Keolis’s performance has steadily improved over the last few years, with hefty investments in locomotives and other equipment. On-time performance (meaning arrival within 5 minutes of the scheduled time) has averaged 90 percent across all lines so far this year. On-time performance weighted by passenger traffic is not quite as good, hovering around 85 percent in recent months and falling as low as 72 percent in June.
The improved performance on commuter rail has coincided with evidence suggesting ridership and revenues are up, but an in-depth evaluation of operations has been hampered by the system’s inability to accurately count passengers. New passenger counters are expected to be installed on all commuter rail cars by the end of the year.Tory Mazzola, director of public affairs for Keolis, said the poll results indicate the company is making progress that is being noticed by passengers.
“This progress follows investment by the MBTA, Keolis, and the Baker administration of hundreds of millions of dollars into additional conductors, more scheduled trains, infrastructure, new passenger communication tools, and reliability, which has improved,” he said in a statement. “The 10-year on-time average is 87 percent, while for 2016, 2017 and 2018 we delivered 89 percent. For 2019, year-to-date on-time performance is at 90 percent. We’d like to see these trends continue, and we will continue to invest to help achieve that.”