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Subway Service is Getting Worse on Several Lines: MTA Data

 The A train was over 100 percent behind schedule more than 10 percent of the time over the past 12 months.
The A train was over 100 percent behind schedule more than 10 percent of the time over the past 12 months.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Does your train commute seem worse this year than last year? Depending on what line you're on, it might be.

Riders waited longer for the A, F, G and M lines on weekdays more frequently over the last 12 months than they did in the same period last year, according to data discussed at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board meeting on Monday.

The MTA collects data on the intervals between train arrivals in stations in order to assess wait times. But it did not translate the gaps in service into minutes delayed.

The agency says a train "meets standard" even if it is up to 25 percent later than it was meant to be.

A "minor gap" in service is if the wait time is more than 25 percent and up to 50 percent longer than expected, a "medium gap" is 50 percent to 100 percent longer and a "major gap" is more than 100 percent longer, or if the train misses its "interval" entirely.

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From June 2015 to May 2016, the A train suffered medium gaps 9.1 percent of the time, up from 8.5 percent from June 2014 to May 2015.

And the F saw medium gaps 8.4 percent of the time, up from 7.6 percent of the time over the previous year.

Overall wait times were longer for the A by 2 percent, the F by 1.5 percent, the G by 1.3 percent and the M by 1.2 percent. (Work is planned for the M line as it's expected to accommodate L train riders during the L train's 18-month shut down.)

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Full wait time assessment data is on pages 20 through 22 of the MTA's Transit and Bus Committee book for July.

What does this all mean for riders?

Not much, experts say.

Using the MTA's data, one can deduce that "service is more unreliable" and "more of the trains are late," said Transit Center Director Tabitha Decker.

"But you have no idea how long it is," added Transit Center Director of Communications and Advocacy Jon Orcutt. "It's almost incomprehensible to translate it to what it means to the riders. And that's not good — it really should be a customer kind of thing."

He added: "They measure it from the point of view of people operating trains, not from the point of view of people trying to get around the city."

Transit Center wonks want the MTA to measure excess wait time, or EWT, instead, the way the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority does.

"EWT measures how much extra time passengers wait for a train or bus compared with the ideal scenario of every vehicle running at scheduled frequencies. This gives it major advantages over wait assessment," they wrote in a recent report.

"The [MTA] isn't using their data to the best advantage to improve the system," Decker said.

MTA spokesman Kevin Oritz said he "wholeheartedly disagree[s]."

"On-Time Performance and wait assessment are part of many analytical tools we use to develop strategies for improving service," he said. "Wait assessment is our primary indicator because our service delivery focus is on evenness of service. This is our focus because, generally speaking, our customers — relatively few of whom travel all the way to a terminal station — are more significantly affected by the time they wait for a train at a station along the route rather than the difference between the actual and scheduled arrival time at terminal stations."