Santa's Silver Sleigh - Hundreds of families braved uncharacteristically cold temperatures on Saturday, December 10 and had a marvelous time on Santa's Silver Sleigh. Six cars were transformed with lights and garland, with each car uniquely decorated by PATCO volunteers from every department. Santa visited every child on the train, posing while moms and dads took photos, and handing out candy canes. Sometimes Santa was seen singing and dancing to the holiday music, adding to the festivities.
PATCO Cares - December 2016 marks the third year the Salvation Army Kroc Center participated in our PATCO Cares Program. This year Red Kettle Bell Ringers and Carolers greeted our riders from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at our Lindenwold, Ashland, Woodcrest, Haddonfield and Ferry Avenue Stations.
The Red Kettles provide local support for many programs, including a food pantry, character building youth programs, basic needs assistance programs, and food and toys for Christmas. Thousands of residents in our community benefit each year because of the generosity of those donating to the Red Kettle. Per the Salvation Army, PATCO riders are the highest gross givers per hour. They are truly grateful for the opportunity to participate in our PATCO Cares initiative.
PATCO Supports the FOP Toy Drive - From November 14 through December 23, special barrels beckoned to passengers at seven New Jersey PATCO stations, urging them to add to the joy of the holidays through the FOP's annual Toy Drive. PATCO's Passenger Services staff ensured that the barrels were available each weekday morning and stored them securely, working with the Police to collect the many donated toys.
New Year's Eve - For the first time ever, PATCO offered free rides on New Year's Eve. This special accommodation enabled those celebrating the holiday to travel safely on the train as an alternative to driving. Revelers boarded PATCO at no charge between 8 p.m. on the 31st and 4 a.m. on New Year's Day.
In addition to 44 appreciative Tweets and 30 posts by others on Hoot Suite, we received emails, such as:
Elevators / Escalators Availability - In December we again exceeded our goals. Availability of elevators was 99.58% in December and 99.40% for the year as a whole. Availability of all escalators was 96.17% in December and 98.06% for the year as a whole. For 2017, we will increase our escalator availability target to 96%.
For the year as a whole, elevator availability exceeded our goal every month.
For the year as a whole, escalator availability exceeded our goal every month by a significant margin.
Ridership -Ridership in December, 2016 was 845,070, a decrease of 27,038 (-3.10%) when compared to the same period of 2015. The timing of the Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve can significantly affect ridership. In addition, it should be noted the counts do not include those passengers who rode free on New Year's Eve, since the use of tickets and FREEDOM cards is how PATCO automatically counts its riders. Ridership for 2016 was 10,653,390, an increase of 483,903 (+4.76%) when compared to the same period of 2015 (10,169,487).
Average weekday ridership increased significantly in 2016 compared to 2015. In 2016, average weekday riders numbered 36,889, a 4% increase over 2015 and the highest in 4 years.
On-Time Performance - Although we have experienced a number of challenges this year, especially with an aging fleet, learning curve for the overhauled cars, and capital projects, we continue to strive every day to provide the best possible service for our customers and improve our on-time performance.
The on-time performance for the 5,540 scheduled trips in December was 94.31%. Performance for the year as a whole was 95.74%.
Late in the afternoon of December 27, a train entering Broadway Station struck an individual. Such situations are handled carefully, maximizing the health and safety of all involved. This tragic event resulted in 30 trains being annulled, 11 running late, and 121 stations being bypassed. If this incident had not occurred, the on-time performance for the month would have been 95.17%.