MBTA ‘Dashboard’ Helps Riders Better Understand T’s Performance

Just how reliable is the T?

MBTA dashboard

The MBTA has launched a new online “dashboard,” featuring easy-to-read performance data, in a push for transparency and accountability at the cash-strapped transportation authority.

The site, mbtabackontrack.com, measures the T’s reliability, ridership, finances, and customer satisfaction. The most recent reliability data displayed in the dashboard is for the day before, but the T says it plans to roll out real-time statistics in the near future, opening the door for apps by third-party developers. The other criteria will be updated monthly.

“A lot of performance reports the T has issued in the past can be so overwhelming that they miss the point,” Rachel Bain, assistant secretary for the Office of Performance Management and Innovation, told the Globe. “So much of our stuff ends up being, even to me, gibberish.”

The dashboard, which Bain said was designed reminiscent of fitness tracking software like Fitbit, helps riders easily digest the T’s performance data. Reliability data can be broken down by bus route and subway line, as well as peak and off-peak hours. The Green Line, for example, was just 61 percent reliable last Monday, March 21, during peak hours, short of its target 90 percent, and 62 percent in off-peak hours.

Roughly 1.08 million trips were taken on MBTA trains and buses in the average weekday in January, split 65-35, respectively. The Red Line saw the most average weekday trips, followed by the Orange, Green, and Blue Lines.

“A lot of thought went into what to put in the dashboard, and the focus was really that the T needs to be accountable for doing its fundamental job of getting people where they need to go, when they need to be there,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told the Globe. “You have a bad commute, you want to click and say, ‘Did I just have a bad day? Or is this line always like this?’ ”

As for customer satisfaction, the T received three-and-a-half stars for February, based on reviews from 527 respondents. Sixty-three percent of people said they were satisfied to some degree with the T’s performance.