CHICAGO (CBS) — A year ago, it seemed everyone who rode Metra was complaining about lousy service in the teeth of a bitterly cold and snowy winter.

While there are still complaints this winter, they are far fewer than this time a year ago, when each day seemed to bring new emergencies.

Between this New Year’s Day and Jan. 11, 481 Metra trains were delayed. While not inconsequential, it is only 29 percent of the 1,657 recorded the same 11 days in 2014. On time performance increased from 71.5 percent to 91 percent.

That is not good enough for Metra CEO Don Orseno, but he concedes it is a big improvement. Asked if he credits Mother Nature or steps Metra took over the summer, he says “a little of both.”

Orseno said it was nowhere near as snowy — 10.2 inches versus last year’s 19.9 over the 11-day period. But he said the average temperature was only two degrees warmer.

Orseno said the action that has helped the most is the rebuilding of entry-exit doors on 100 of Metra’s oldest bilevels. The agency plans to make similar repairs to 100 additional cars later this year and another 163 the following year.

“It’s not an easy fix, not something you just do in a (repair) yard,” he said. “You’ve got to take the car out of service, take the doors apart, rebuild the door.”

He said heaters on switches in storage yards have meant fewer trapped trains. Metra even bought three trucks that can blast the snow away from platforms and yard tracks so that repairs that must be made outside, such as the routine changing of braking shoes, can be done more easily out-of-doors.

Orseno said crowding problems at Chicago Union Station still exist, and cannot be eliminated until rehabilitation of the station can be done. But he said he believes Metra’s plans to address crowding are having a positive effect. He said communication with riders also has improved by targeting e-alerts to specific hours instead of a steady stream of updates all day long.