One thing us New Yorkers absolutely all have in common is that we’ve all been personally victimized by the NYC subway system, especially when it comes to relying on it to be on time (and don’t even get us started on having to dodge the mysterious liquid that drips from the ceiling).
Well, THE CITY analyzed data that shows Mean Distance Between Failure (MDBF)–a vital metric for tracking MTA subway car reliability–and found that reliability among lettered subway lines is steadily falling.
And the findings aren’t exactly new news–efficiency of the 3,633 car lettered line fleet has been declining since 2021 with cars breaking down every 126,416 miles.
In fact, reliability has dipped to its lowest level in four years following pandemic-era highs in 2020 and 2021 of traveling nearly 150,000 miles before breaking down when ridership was on a decline.
Today, reliability is now below that of 2015, when cars averaged over 133,000 miles before breaking down.
According to THE CITY, while lettered lines present a 13.4% reduction in reliability since 2022, the 2,890 car numbered line fleet has only a 2% reduction.
“It is counterintuitive, it is counter-productive and it is counter to what we want to see happen,” said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, according to THE CITY.
And, according to MTA data, age has nothing to do with reliability–the average age of lettered line cars is 24.3 years old while numbered line cars average at 27.2 years old.
Plus, six out of seven of the brand new R211 subway cars–which only first began rolling out onto tracks this past March–were already pulled out of service last month due to faulty gearboxes.
Though when the subway sees such high ridership numbers–1 billion customers rode the NYC subway system last year–it’s no surprise efficiency begins to drop.
According to THE CITY, Lisa Daglian stated “As soon as ridership goes back up, MDBF is affected. It’s wear and tear and it’s also the human factor, such as people messing with doors.”
Though with updates being made to the system as a whole, such as air conditioning potentially coming to subway platforms and several lines increasing their service, we can only hope that reliability will soon be on the rise.
The information is based on a 12-month rolling average calculated this past September. The full data dashboard can be found here.