Consumer group casts doubt on MBTA reliability

BOSTON — A consumer group is raising questions about the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s own reliability rating.

According to the MBTA’s website, the transit system was dependable about 88 percent of the time over the past 30 days, but the consumer group MASSPIRG said the MBTA doesn’t see itself the same way many riders do.

The bottom line is if you don’t diagnose what’s ailing you, you won’t get the right treatment.

And in order for the MBTA to improve performance, MASSPIRG said it needs to get better at diagnosing itself.

The group released a study Thursday morning and said the MBTA isn’t measuring reliability well enough causing a wide disparity on how MBTA officials said it’s doing and how riders view it.

For example, the MBTA said in June 2017 subway reliability was around 90 percent.

But at the same time the survey showed 44 percent of riders disagreed with the statement that the MBTA provides reliable transportation.

Nineteen percent slightly agreed.

MASSPIRG pointed out that the following portions of rider experience are not considered in reliability data:

  • Overcrowding
  • In-route service disruptions
  • Total trip time

Currently the MBTA's method essentially focuses on wait times, not on arrival times.

“To present customers with the most useful information, the (MBTA's) reliability measures compare service performance to the schedules provided to the public,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo told Boston 25 News in a statement. “The Dashboard is evolving, and MBTA staff is open to ideas that can improve its performance measures given the (MBTA's) best available data sources.”

The MBTA added that it was working with UMass Amherst and MIT to make improvements.