Andrew Byford, the Toronto transit executive named on Tuesday to run the MTA's bus-and-subway system, has his work cut out for him. As NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez reports, late trains are only part of the system's problems; the MTA seems to always operate behind schedule in just about everything it does.
The MTA's job is to get people from here to there on-time.
But the agency just can't stick to its schedules.
"The MTA is just terrible at meeting the goals that it sets for itself," said Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute.
Straphangers are all too familiar with late trains, as subway delays have surged nearly 300 percent in five years.
But it's not just the trains that run late.
"They've never really been very good at meeting their own internal deadlines," said Ben Kabak of transit advocacy group Second Avenue Sagas.
Some subway cars, built in the 1960s, were supposed to be retired in 2014. Their replacements are only now being tested.
"The MTA will tell you today it takes you five years to get a new car," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in June. "That is just ridiculous."
Or consider the installation of a new signal system to increase capacity on the overcrowded 7 line; the project is a year behind schedule, and about to blow by another deadline at the end of this year.
Then there is the rebuilding of the Cortlandt Street station beneath the World Trade Center, a station that was destroyed in the September 11th attacks.
"Here we are, 16 years later, and it's not going to be done for at least another year," Gelinas said.
Those aren't the flashy megaprojects like the extension of the 7 line, which was completed nearly two years late.
Or the building of a new Long Island Rail Road terminal beneath Grand Central, a project now 13 years behind schedule.
"It's consistent: You can expect them to go past deadlines," said Jon Orcutt of the Transit Center.
The delays add to the MTA's costs, while reducing the agency's credibility.
"It's tough for the public to believe them, when they can't meet deadlines they've set themselves," Kabak said.
The legacy of lateness is just one of the problems the MTA's new president of New York City Transit, Andy Byford, faces when he takes control of the subway and bus system in January.
The MTA claims it's pushing to complete more construction on schedule, citing, for example, penalties of $400,000 a day if the contractor Judlau misses deadlines for rebuilding the L line tunnel under the East River.
Advocates have heard it all before.
"They don't have a very good structure in place to oversee contractors who just sort of stretch this out," Kabak said.
But there's one area where the MTA functions like clockwork: It keeps meeting its schedule for raising the fare every other year. The next increase is scheduled for 2019.