Overhaul Program - Forty-two refurbished cars are serving our customers, and four more are undergoing commissioning on-site. As cars arrive at Lindenwold, we continue to keep a steady production flow by shipping additional legacy cars to the car builder, keeping a consistent 20 cars in process.
Lindenwold Yard - Enhancing Efficiency - A new building is underway in Lindenwold Yard to enable Way & Power to organize and store track components. This facility will have under-canopy lighting powered by solar panels. The storage bins under the canopy allow Way & Power to store ballast and riprap. Storing the ballast on a concrete pad makes it easier to handle and prevents the material from being contaminated with sand.
Escalators / Elevators Availability - After having consistently and significantly exceeded our 90% escalator availability goal in 2016, we increased our target to 96% for 2017. In January availability of all escalators was 97.63%, exceeding that new target. Availability of elevators was 98.89% in January, exceeding our 97% availability goal.
New Schedule - On January 7, a very fine snow fell throughout our region. This type of snow is particularly harmful to traction motors, as it gets sucked into the motors and cannot be filtered out without causing other harmful effects. Numerous traction motors were damaged, some immediately and some in the ensuing days and weeks. These traction motors had to be removed from cars, with a typical motor replacement taking 6 to 8 hours. PATCO staff worked around the clock on repairs, maintenance and inspection but on several occasions, we did not have spare equipment to place into service, especially if other issues arose.
Compounding the challenge is the fleet refurbishment program, during which 20 cars are at the car builder's plant in various stages of overhaul.
When we lack a full complement of trains to provide the scheduled service or to substitute a train for one that has suddenly developed an issue, PATCO typically targets its alternating Lindenwold Express / Woodcrest Local schedule. Cancelling Local trains that originate at Woodcrest and running Express trains from Lindenwold as Locals, making all stops, inconveniences the fewest number of passengers given the constraints we have been facing.
In response to customer frustration with the inconsistent schedule, we implemented a temporary timetable on January 28 that is designed to provide more consistent service. This timetable has made slight alterations to space the scheduled trains more evenly and to require the number of cars we feel we can consistently have available, given the significant challenges we face in the winter.
The on-time performance for the 5,554 scheduled trips in January was 93.48%.
Ridership - Ridership in January, 2017, was 892,250, an increase of 77,496 (+9.51%) when compared to the same period of 2016. New Year's Day fell on a Sunday in 2017 compared to a week day in 2016, and January of 2017 included more weekdays than 2016, which would contribute to the variance. Average weekday ridership in 2017 was 37,121, compared to 35,586 in January of 2016, a 4.3% increase.
Girl Scouts Return to PATCO - Last year we received at least 15 thank you notes from troops whose programming relies on the proceeds of cookie sales. With the permission of our Board and a Right of Entry Agreement in place, the Girl Scout Council has again coordinated Friday afternoon/evening sales at many of our stations.