By Scott Etkin
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) released results from its latest customer survey this week showing slight gains in satisfaction across many areas — while still leaving plenty of room for improvement — as the system tries to rebound from the many changes brought on by the pandemic.
Eighty-thousand New Yorkers gave their input for the spring 2023 survey, which is conducted twice a year (in the spring and fall). Subway, bus and paratransit services (Access-a-Ride) all received higher satisfaction rates compared to spring 2022. The average subway satisfaction rate was 56% (up 8 points year-over-year), and Local, Limited and Select Bus customer satisfaction levels were 65% — leaving both scores below the MTA’s goal of 70% satisfaction by 2024.
For subway riders, the most important factor in their experience was, not surprisingly, matters of personal safety. Specifically, “people behaving erratically on board trains” was the single-most important issue. While “personal security on trains” and “personal security in stations” improved by 1% and 3%, respectively, since last fall, more than two-thirds of people are still dissatisfied with the amount of erratic behavior they’re seeing.
Service reliability was the next most important category for customers, and more than half are satisfied (56%), which is unchanged since last fall. On-board satisfaction rates for UWS trains are right around the average for all train lines (54%):
- 1 Line: 56% satisfaction (up 2% from last fall)
- 2 Line: 52% satisfaction (up 1%)
- 3 Line: 55% satisfaction (up 2%)
- B Line: 55% satisfaction (down 2%)
- C Line: 51% satisfaction (up 2%)
Satisfaction data was not provided for individual bus routes. The closest breakdown is by borough, which showed that Manhattan has the best scores. Local, Limited and Select buses in Manhattan had a 76% satisfaction rate (flat since the previous survey), well above the citywide average score of 69%.
Commuters around West 86th Street tend to be particularly happy with their service. The 86th Street B/C Line came in as one of the highest-rated stations in the city (83% satisfaction). The M86 Select Bus Service (SBS) and M79 SBS were also among the highest-ranked bus lines, with 88% and 93% satisfaction ratings, respectively.
In the report, MTA highlighted higher satisfaction scores at stations that have been recently renovated (as part of the MTA’s “Re-NEW-vation” program) or received a new customer service center. Neither of these improvements have taken place on the Upper West Side so far.
Also of note: 4 out of 10 riders use OMNY, the tap-to-pay system, instead of a MetroCard. People tend to enjoy this relatively new addition to subways and busses, giving it a 79% satisfaction rate. The rollout of OMNY started in May 2019 and finished in December 2020.
For those looking to give their input, the next MTA customer experience survey will take place in the fall. In the meantime, riders can contact the MTA at this link.
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