"The proof is in the data and in the experiences of our riders," MTA Chairman Pat Foye said.

That would be the data for the subway's performance in June.

MTA brass on Thursday tried to impress upon riders that the subway is actually getting better, not just on paper but in their commutes.

The highlights:

More trains are running on time, with 81.5% of them running at or near schedule, the highest in six years.

Fewer trains are delayed each day, down to 30,434 a month in June.

There were an average of 45 major meltdowns on weekdays, down from 62 last June.

Riders are wasting less time on trains. Time spent in delays declined to an average of 47 seconds.

"We're working to squeeze every drop of performance out of the existing system," NYC Transit President Andy Byford said.

MTA officials attribute the improvements to an intense, $836 million repair blitz that cleared out street grates to prevent track fires, added 51 miles of stronger rail, and thousands of tracks and signal defects fixed.

The work will continue with funding, $300 million a year, from a surcharge on taxi trips in Manhattan.

The other reason why the subway is better: trains are running faster.

Speed limits have been raised in 124 locations around the system and hundreds of signals that were unnecessarily slowing down trains were fixed.

Riders at the Bowling Green station across the street from MTA headquarters, gave mixed responses about the subway's turnaround.

"In the morning, there are always delays," a woman who commutes from Flatbush, Brooklyn said. "We're stopping in between stops for several minutes. I'm not seeing any improvement."

Another one gave MTA credit for fast service, even if she was concerned about homeless people seeking refuse in the subway.

"The train service is relatively pretty good though, as far as them being on time, every two minutes, three minutes, I can't complain about the train service because they do come quite often," she said. "At least my train does."

"It's been pretty downtrodden for a long time," another commuter said. "There are inordinate delays and yet the prices just continue to keep precipitously rising so unfortunately I don't agree with that statement."

At least, he said, the last ride was "pretty good."

Looking forward, the MTA is planning to get a large infusion of cash from a new fee on cars entering Manhattan. That money will cover an ambitious plan to re-signal the subway system, an effort that Transit President Andy Byford says will finally bring salvation to commuters.