PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Almost one in five trains on the regional rail transit lines serving the Philadelphia metropolitan area were late last year, the worst performance of the decade — and that was before one-third of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's fleet was sidelined by structural problems, according to a Philadelphia newspaper.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/2aLxqAU ) reports that more than 40,000 trains were late across the 13 lines of the SEPTA regional rail system in 2015 — 17 percent of all trains. Another 1,283 were canceled.
The newspaper said its analysis of hundreds of performance reports as well as interviews with SEPTA officials, employees and riders indicated a number of causes. They included outdated equipment, a lack of funding and manpower, growing ridership and difficulty meshing with Amtrak on its tracks.
The agency has a self-imposed goal of a 90-percent on-time rate in three years, but only three lines exceeded that standard in the first half of the year. In 2013, SEPTA's on-time rate was 93 percent, in part because of new Silverliner V cars that gave the agency a full complement of cars for the first time in years.
But the Inquirer reported that the advantage was short-lived, since other SEPTA cars are so old — 231 date to the 1970s — that they are prone to breaking down. And then, just before the July 4 weekend SEPTA placed a third of the coaches in its regional system out of service after defects were found in the Silverliner V cars.
SEPTA officials say having the rails run on time is a top priority, and they are working to make that happen. Officials say 28 percent of all canceled trains from January 2015 to June 2015 were due to equipment failures involving vehicles and infrastructure.
Officials hope to return some of the sidelined Silverliner V cars by Labor Day and thereafter, phasing them into use 10 at a time with the full fleet back in service by the week of Nov. 6.
And SEPTA cites other efforts to improve on-time performance such as route restructuring, hiring of two dozen new engineers, and upgrades to track, power lines, and platforms.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com