DATA now running 82 percent on time

Feb. 08, 2013 @ 06:45 PM

A month after a big package of route changes went into effect, the Durham Area Transit Authority’s buses are running on time for about 82 percent of their runs.

That’s below the 90 percent goal officials from the system’s manager, Triangle Transit, set going in. But it’s also well above the 61-percent on-time performance DATA was managing using its old timetable and route map.

“We’re pleased; we are not satisfied,” said John Tallmadge, Triangle Transit’s director of commuter resources. “We’re going to continue working at it, but we think we’re on the way.”

The new routes took effect for most of the system Jan. 5, a few months after a Triangle Transit rolled out a preliminary set of changes that affected only three routes.

The January package amounted to a wholesale change of DATA’s route network, to beef up service in a few key corridors and prune runs in some less-used areas that had been causing ripple-effect delays to the system as a whole.

Tallmadge’s comments Friday came after he’d reviewed statistics for the new network’s first-month performance. He cautioned that a couple of things – including a dose of icy weather in January – likely kept the percentage of on-time runs down a bit.

Among other factors, “in the first week of service bus operators and customers were a little confused and taking a little longer to answer questions,” he said.

“Hopefully February is better,” Tallmadge added.

He also acknowledged that a couple of routes – routes 6 and 1A – are still “consistently underperforming” for reasons that need more analysis.

Route 6 serves Duke University along West Chapel Hill Street, Erwin Road and Neal Road. Its run changed with the first set of moves last fall. While on-time performance improved, the gains were marginal.

Tallmadge in briefing the City Council in December said it was possible the early changes on it weren’t producing the expected timing improvements because it was still tying on to other routes that had remained on the old schedule.

But the problem is lingering even now that the entire system has switched over.

Route 1A loops northward from Northgate Mall into the Carver Street area along North Pointe Drive.

Triangle Transit defines an on-time trip as one that’s no more than five minutes late.

The regional agency has managed DATA for the city since the fall of 2010.