January 31, 2013

NJ Transit boasts record on-time performance, celebrates rail milestone

NJ Transit announced a record on-time performance (OTP) for trains during the 2012 calendar year, highlighting the celebration of the agency’s rail operation’s 30th anniversary of service to the Garden State.

The improved OTP is a direct result of the agency’s Scorecard initiative, which launched in 2011 as part of a push from Gov. Christie’s Administration for increased accountability and transparency in the state government and its agencies, and uses performance standards, clear metrics and customer input to drive strategic decisions. Using Scorecard as a guide, NJ Transit’s rail division made tremendous improvements in 2012 that resulted in a record calendar year OTP of 96.4%, breaking the previous record of 96.2% set in 1995.  This was achieved even while operating nearly 23% more trains than the former record calendar year.

NJ Transit rail also set or tied several monthly on-time performance records in 2012 by using qualitative metrics to identify trends in equipment maintenance and state-of-good-repair infrastructure projects, as well as to refine situational protocols. Customer feedback gathered through quarterly customer surveys, as well as from “We Are Listening” forums that give customers the opportunity to interact with senior management and operations personnel, is being used to target specific improvements needed to boost customer satisfaction.

Along with on-time performance, customers have consistently ranked communications as among their top priorities, prompting NJ Transit to enhance its communications focus by embracing social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Scorecard will continue to drive the efforts of the agency’s Rail Operations, which has served as a model for how this type of methodology can be applied to all areas of the agency to improve performance and boost overall customer satisfaction.

To support Scorecard, NJ Transit continues to look for ways to put technology to work for customers to improve their overall commute, from the way they access travel information to their experience onboard trains and at facilities. To that end, new customer amenities have been introduced to rail customers in recent years, including online ticketing, automated announcements at rail stations, Web access from mobile devices, DepartureVision and My Transit alerts.

As NJ Transit rail operations celebrates its 30th anniversary, the agency is recognizing the evolution that has taken place from its challenging beginnings to the delivery of an efficient transportation system that serves New Jersey and the surrounding region three decades later.

On January 1, 1983, a dedicated group of employees — combined with support from the state and federal governments — began transforming an aging and disjointed passenger railroad system into one of the premier passenger railroads of North America. A combination of needed investments, smart planning and a shift in railroad culture from “moving equipment” to “serving customers” led to delivery of a safer and more convenient, reliable and cost-effective service.

Older railcars and locomotives were refurbished or replaced with ADA-accessible equipment. New high-level platforms were built for customers with disabilities and faster boarding and exiting of trains. Signals and overhead-wire catenary systems were modernized. Continuous welded rail was installed for a smoother, faster ride.

As on-time performance and service quality rose, so did ridership. That paved the way for more service expansion, including new North Jersey Coast Line Service to Hoboken, the launch of Atlantic City Rail Line service, the launch of MidTOWN DIRECT service, the opening of the Newark Liberty International Airport Station and the opening of the Frank R. Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction that today allows customers access to 11 of NJ Transit’s 12 rail lines.

NJ Transit also centralized its maintenance and train dispatching functions in Kearny with the opening of the Meadows Maintenance Complex in 1987 and the Rail Operations Center in Kearny in 2003, creating a more modernized, reliable and efficient method of maintaining and operating trains.

Expanding the capacity of the rail system has also simultaneously included the addition of tens-of-thousands new parking spaces, including the addition of major park & ride facilities at Metropark, Ramsey Route 17, Montclair State University, Bay Street, Rahway, Hamilton, Trenton and Morristown stations.

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