How Likely Is It That Your LA Metro Train or Bus Will Be Late?

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Sometimes it can feel as though the bus is never on time, or the train is always late, but how often are Metro Los Angeles buses and trains really punctual, and how often are they tardy?

KPCC crunched the numbers on Metro data from 2010 to March 2016 about public transit timeliness and what they found was that buses have a hard time staying on time, with 21.4 percent showing up late last year. (Buses are considered late when they’re five or more minutes behind schedule.)

Those numbers were the worst for bus service in the six years the data covered, but if totals for this year’s first three months are any indication, 2016 could be even worse.

In 2016 so far, 22.7 percent of Metro buses have been late to their stops. Metro mostly blames construction, especially in Downtown, for the lateness, along with overall heavier traffic and “road diets” that remove driving lanes in favor of pedestrian or bike space. Among the most reliably late are many Rapid buses, including the 733 to Venice (late 30.1 percent of the time); the 720, which takes Wilshire to Santa Monica (late 29 percent of the time); and the 704, which also goes to Santa Monica and is late 28.8 percent of the time.

There are, of course, exceptions to the late bus trend, like the Orange Line, which has its own dedicated bus lane and is only late 5.4 percent of the time. Other solid bus lines were the 200, which runs between Echo Park and Exposition Park (late 12.6 percent of the time) and the 243, which services areas from Woodland Hills to Porter Ranch (14.1 percent lateness).

Trains, unsurprisingly, do much better. In 2015, just 1.2 percent of trains were late. Since 2010, only 1 percent of trains have been late. So far this year, fewer than 1 percent of trains have been late. (Trains also aren’t officially considered late until they’re more than five minutes tardy.) Of the rail lines, the subterranean Red and Purple are the most punctual. The Blue Line and its plentiful street crossings “has been consistently the latest,” says KPCC, though it’s still on time more often than buses. (Blue Line trains were late 3.4 percent of the time in 2012.)

And in its first month since opening the new extension to Azusa, the Gold Line’s timeliness rose to 1.8 percent; in the month before the extension opened, Gold Line trains were late just 0.4 percent of the time. A Metro rep notes that with a new line, there are always kinks to work out; the line’s also carrying a lot more passengers than Metro expected at this point.

We’ll find out whether opening a new extension will have the same effect on the Expo Line soon; the line opens May 20 to downtown Santa Monica.

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