Time on T’s side
The MBTA and Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Company publish “report cards” showing the commuter rail’s performance and, by all accounts, the trains arrive when they are supposed to 95 percent of the time. Except they don’t.
The two agencies tout the “adjusted” on-time performance of the commuter rail lines, which excludes incidents outside the direct control of the operator. The actual on-time performance—what commuters actually experience—was 87 percent year-to-date through the end of August. The two Old Colony rail lines were even worse, reporting a 70 percent actual on-time rate so far this year.Some of the incidents the agencies cite as beyond their control are medical emergencies and police actions, but they also include mechanical failures and equipment shortages. The agencies also include rail repairs, including the replacement of all 147,000 defective concrete railroad ties on the Old Colony Lines from Middleboro and Kingston, as beyond their control.
The adjusted on-time performance rate for both lines was 96 percent, but the actual on-time performance was nowhere near that. Trains on the Kingston line ran on schedule 43 percent of the time in June, 44 percent in July, and 57 percent in August. The Middleboro line ran as low as 55 percent in May before rebounding in subsequent months to 68 percent in June and 85 percent in August, although that was “adjusted” to 98 percent.