By Jonathan Sperling
No you’re not imagining things: your train really was late every day last month.
If you’ve commuted to or from Queens by subway this year, odds are your train has been delayed, a new report from data-scraping tool ReadyPipe shows. Using data from the MTA’s own website, the web-scraping platform determined that the A, F, N, E trains are among the city’s top-10 most-delayed subway lines.
“A negative surprise was the fact that every morning there are at least five routes that had a delay at some point,” Chad Horner, a data analyst with ReadyPipe, told the Eagle. “The MTA can’t make it through that time without a bunch of things going wrong.”
A program designed by Horner collects data from the MTA’s website every 10 minutes, allowing it to record which subway lines are delayed, experiencing planned work or other service disruptions. Data on shuttle lines and certain express train lines, such as the Z, were not included in the report.
The A train, which takes straphangers from the Rockaways, Howard Beach and Ozone Park into Brooklyn and Manhattan, was delayed more than 11 percent of the time throughout the entire month of January. During the weekday rush hour (between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m), nearly one in every five A trains experienced delays.
The F train, which serves Queens from Jamaica-179 Street to 21 Street-Queensbridge, was delayed more than 10 percent of the time in January. The N and the E trains were delayed over 6.5 percent of the time and three of every 10 trains experienced planned work.
In fact, there wasn't a single weekday morning in January that didn't see at least one delay during the morning rush, according to Horner’s findings — the fewest number of lines delayed in a single morning was five.
The worst commuting day of the month took place on Jan. 31, when 19 of the 21 subway lines analyzed by Horner experienced a delay at some point. All of the subway lines that pass through Queens were delayed during that time, except for the L, which somehow managed to avoid the delays.
“Ridership tends to peak at that time [rush hour]. The more people riding the subway, the more something is going to go wrong,” Horner told the Eagle. “There are more issues relating to passenger disruptions, sick passengers. Those are more likely to happen when there are more people on the system. Plus, when trains are really crowded they have problems closing the doors.”
Other boroughs didn’t get off so lucky last month either. The 4 train was the only train more delayed than the A during the morning rush — it was late more than 20 percent of the time during that period.
But the data wasn’t all bad news for Queens commuters. The M train and the cross-borough G train were delayed just 3 percent of the time in January, while the J train was a commuter’s best bet during the morning rush. The J was delayed less than 2 percent of the time during that period.
On weekdays, the subway system runs with good service approximately 65 percent of the time, but that rate plummets on weekends, when the MTA plans routine work.
“There are definite spikes in planned work on weekends. The MTA is good at trying to stack their planned work during times when ridership isn’t high,” Horner said. “It was cool to see in the data that that is really what’s happening. They are trying to do things in a way that doesn't affect people's lives.”
Horner said he is currently scraping data for February’s subway delays and may release a similar report after the end of the month.
“In an ideal world, one thing we thought about having is a constantly updating site that showed these charts as we collected it,” Horner told the Eagle. “We should be holding the MTA more accountable and quantifying the issues with the system.”