The Press-Enterprise ran a story on recent Metrolink delays, which are apparently due to mechanical problems with the new MPXpress locomotives. Metrolink's on-time percentage has gotten down to 90%, from 95%, and riders have complained that, over the past six months, they have been late "a couple times." Of course, we should strive for reliability in our transit system, and I hope that Metrolink gets these issues worked out (fortunately the locomotives are still under warranty), but this sort of news coverage really irks me.
When I last held down a 9-5 job, I used to drive to work. (I eventually started riding the bus when I figured out how much I was spending on gas.) I was on time to work about 90% of the time. I was late more than a couple times over six months. I was late a couple of times over six months just due to stoplight timing or traffic issues. And my commute? A little over 4 miles. For the sort of people who would be using the train for long-distance commutes, an auto commute via our region's freeways would no doubt be substantially less reliable. This is an issue that no doubt needs to be worked out, but let's face it- sometimes the train is simply late. Similarly, sometimes tires go flat, cars crash, or CalTrans decides to close a lane out of random spite. Issues like this are parts of life, not an inherent weakness of Metrolink or transit.