November 13, 2013

N.Y. MTA satisfaction ratings remain stable

Customer satisfaction surveys conducted in June 2013 show essentially stable satisfaction ratings across all services operated by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Overall ratings for each MTA service either remained steady or changed within the margin of sampling error or by no more than two percentage points.

The MTA views the results as a very favorable outcome because they came in the wake of billions of dollars of infrastructure damage and large service disruptions caused by Superstorm Sandy, followed several months later by a fare and toll increase.

“These results give testimony to the core strength of MTA operations, the public’s fundamental satisfaction with MTA services and the public’s recognition that MTA requires the resources to continue to manage the system well during a period of slow economic recovery,” said MTA Chairman/CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “I am especially pleased to see improving satisfaction with local bus service attributed to the continuing expansion of Select Bus Service (SBS); improved real-time information through expansion of MTA Bus Time; acquisition of new buses; and enhanced security measures through cameras, driver-protection shields and our fare evasion crackdown.”

New York City Subway

Overall, 76% of subway customers reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with service, an increase of one percentage point from the prior year, but within the margin of sampling error.

Among the key findings:

  • Safety: Most subway customers reported feeling safe on platforms. Eighty-two percent reported that they are satisfied with their subway platform safety. Seventy-three percent reported that they recall platform safety announcements and 86% of this group are satisfied with the messaging. These results are indicative of a highly successful communications campaign.
  • Ridership: The impact of increased ridership on subway appears to be starting to affect satisfaction levels. Customers who said they were satisfied or very satisfied in response to the metric “Keeping station platforms from getting too crowded during rush hours” decreased to 66%, from 71% the year prior. Satisfaction with “Keeping subway trains from getting too crowded during rush hours” decreased by two percentage points. The MTA intends to monitor this rating carefully as ridership grows.

New York City Local Buses

Overall local bus customer satisfaction increased to an all-time high of 74%, up five percentage points from the prior year. This increase is considered statistically insignificant because it came within the margin of sampling error. Regardless, the continued high rating reflects service restorations/additions, service performance improvements, personal security initiatives and better communications.

Among the key findings:

  • Service reliability: Rush hour service reliability ratings increased to 76% satisfied or very satisfied, up from 68% the previous year. This reflects an increase in mechanical reliability of buses and improvements in the percentage of trips completed.
  • Security: Personal security ratings on local buses increased to 84%, up from 76% the previous year. This reflects a crackdown on fare evasion and the installation of more on‐board video surveillance cameras.
  • Real-time bus information: Access to real-time bus locations improves bus customer satisfaction levels. The MTA Bus Time real-time bus tracking system expanded to the Bronx during the survey period and satisfaction levels increased accordingly.

Satisfaction with “Knowing how far away the next bus is” increased to 63% in the Bronx, compared with 42% in the other boroughs.

The satisfaction rating for “How long you have to wait for a bus to arrive” reached an all‐time high of 59% citywide, and 67% in the Bronx.

Long Island Rail Road

Overall satisfaction of Long Island Rail Road customers was 84%, down two percentage points from the prior year. The decrease was the net result of several year-to-year changes at the branch level. Satisfaction increases on the Oyster Bay, Ronkonkoma and West Hempstead Branches were counterweighted by a decline on the Port Jefferson/Huntington Branch, which experienced service disruptions during the survey period that were caused by track work and other conditions. And, the lingering impact of Superstorm Sandy-related service disruptions pushed satisfaction levels downward on the Long Beach Branch.

Enhancement of service on several key branches including Port Washington and Ronkonkoma is expected to improve customer satisfaction in the coming months.

Metro-North Railroad

Metro-North’s overall rating remained steady at 93%. At 96%, Hudson and Harlem line customers continued to indicate their high satisfaction with overall service. Overall satisfaction on the New Haven Line also remained constant at 88%, despite a derailment in Bridgeport, Conn., that caused delays along the New Haven Line just five weeks before the survey was conducted.

New Haven Line customers riding on M-8s were more satisfied with Metro-North than those riding older equipment on the line. Conversely, as a result of service impacts caused by the derailment, satisfaction with on-time performance declined seven percentage points.

In general, Metro-North recorded five‐point increases in satisfaction with restrooms on trains and at Grand Central Terminal, with those riding the M8 cars far more satisfied with restrooms than those who ride older railcars.

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