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Boro subway lines rank high in on-time statistics

Trains in the New York City subway system turned in what the Transit Authority called their best on-time performance in eight years in 1999 with several lines serving Queens listed among the most punctual.

The Transit Authority said better maintenance went a long way toward helping achieve the improvement.

The TA, in a report to the Metropolitan Transportation Administration, said 93.7 percent of subway trains ran on time in 1999, the best such record since 1991.

TA records showed that the "red bird" cars of the No. 7 line connecting Times Square, Grand Central Terminal and Main Street in Flushing arrived on time 97 percent of the time and those of the M line had a 98.5 percent on-time record.

Trains of the J and Z lines racked up a 97.8 percent on-time record.

Other trains serving Queens and their on-time records for 1999: A-91.4 percent, E-93.2 percent, F-93.8 percent, G-95.8 percent, N-93.3 percent, Q-94.4 percent R-92.6 percent.

Transit Authority President Lawrence Reuter said the improvement was to a great extent the result of much improved maintenance.

As of November 1999, subway cars traveled an average of 98,606 miles before breaking down. In the mid-1980s, the cars tended to break down after only about 7,000 miles.

The worst recent year for on-time performance came in 1994 when 87 percent of trains were on time, the TA said.

But Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, the transit watchdog agency, suggested that the TA report might not tell the whole story.

The Transit Authority criterion for an on-time performance is a train that leaves the first and last stations of a subway line within five minutes of the scheduled departure time.

Russianoff said that under the TA's rules, a subway train conceivably could be late a good part of its run, then put on a burst of speed in order to make up lost time as it neared the end of its run.

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