WMATA rail: getting better or worse?

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WMATA rail: getting better or worse?

Postby drwho9437 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:30 pm

WMATA seems to be doing more maintenance, but much of the trust in the org has gone locally. In an upward spiral downward spiral sense, local sentiment clearly is negative still.

Most news stories like most news stories in any topical area are negative or bleed/lead type.

WMATA's history of falsifying data means that self-report might be dubious.

In this environment do we know if track conditions are getting better objectively or if they are getting worse? It would be best to have hard data not just opinion here. Does the FTA oversight provide pointers here to be trusted?
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Re: WMATA rail: getting better or worse?

Postby MCL1981 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:08 am

Track conditions are obviously leaps and bounds better. But until you fix everything, it doesn't matter how much you fixed. They did months of surge work fixing track conditions. But the next day a rail falls apart and trains derail in a different location. Until it is DONE, the good press will never outweigh the bad press. And even then, they've ruined themselves and it may never be good press.
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Re: WMATA rail: getting better or worse?

Postby Chris Brown » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:32 pm

The best answer to your question is people are morons.

Metro rail is one of the largest and busiest systems in the United States. It has experienced decades of neglect with things hitting rock bottom around 2016.

Now we sit about two years out from Metro's all time low and people actually expect such a large and complex system to be good as new? Only a complete idiot would.

My expectations were always realistic. I never expected Metro to improve significantly over any short period of time. This will take years. I'm expecting to see noticeable improvement around 2020 or 2022.

To be fair.. WMATA pulled a bit of a marketing trick with their "Safetrack" nonsense. Made it sounds like things would be good as new when Safetrack was over. But also to be fair.. only a moron would believe that.
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Re: WMATA rail: getting better or worse?

Postby smallfire85 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:42 pm

For fear of having an apparent bias, I would say getting better. I have many of the problem areas of my commute memorized, and I have crossed a fair amount off the list.

MCL is right, until you tackle all the problems, any failure will trigger the usual tweets and news responses. However, notice that the frequency of some problems have decreased. For risk of jinxing it, when is the last time you heard of an arcing track component causing a delay?

Sometimes I think people strive to find the bad. All it takes is one train offload and you've pissed off 500-1000 people, many of whom have Twitter. Routinely, you will rarely find a positive Metro tweet or story. Metro is a utility; when it works, no one notices. When it doesn't, many complain and articles get written. To risk a straw man: that is standard for many city metros. Search MTA, nycsubway, CTA, or Bart on Twitter and see what you find.

I have been commuting by Metro between Seat Pleasant and Alexandria for three years now, almost exclusively Metro for one and 80-20 driving the first two. I drive when I have to work graveyard. On average I experience a "refundable" delay about once a month to a month and a half. That's less than 5% of the time. I've been offloaded four times. The performance specs used to critique Metro don't accurately reflect the impact to the riders. I think the rush-hour guarantee gives better insight to how incidents affect service.

Through small steps there is improvement. Gap trains are being dispatched throughout the system in case of delays and offloads. There's more maintenance being scheduled and done, in part because there is more coming in from inspections (which is mostly Metro personnel now).
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Re: WMATA rail: getting better or worse?

Postby JDC » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:48 am

smallfire85 wrote:For fear of having an apparent bias, I would say getting better. I have many of the problem areas of my commute memorized, and I have crossed a fair amount off the list.

MCL is right, until you tackle all the problems, any failure will trigger the usual tweets and news responses. However, notice that the frequency of some problems have decreased. For risk of jinxing it, when is the last time you heard of an arcing track component causing a delay?

Sometimes I think people strive to find the bad. All it takes is one train offload and you've pissed off 500-1000 people, many of whom have Twitter. Routinely, you will rarely find a positive Metro tweet or story. Metro is a utility; when it works, no one notices. When it doesn't, many complain and articles get written. To risk a straw man: that is standard for many city metros. Search MTA, nycsubway, CTA, or Bart on Twitter and see what you find.

I have been commuting by Metro between Seat Pleasant and Alexandria for three years now, almost exclusively Metro for one and 80-20 driving the first two. I drive when I have to work graveyard. On average I experience a "refundable" delay about once a month to a month and a half. That's less than 5% of the time. I've been offloaded four times. The performance specs used to critique Metro don't accurately reflect the impact to the riders. I think the rush-hour guarantee gives better insight to how incidents affect service.

Through small steps there is improvement. Gap trains are being dispatched throughout the system in case of delays and offloads. There's more maintenance being scheduled and done, in part because there is more coming in from inspections (which is mostly Metro personnel now).


I definitely have noticed use of gap trains more often - there is almost always a gap train berthed at National Airport in the center track. It's often a 7k, too.
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Re: WMATA rail: getting better or worse?

Postby JackRussell » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:28 pm

JDC wrote:
smallfire85 wrote:I definitely have noticed use of gap trains more often - there is almost always a gap train berthed at National Airport in the center track. It's often a 7k, too.


There wasn't one there last night. Maybe it was called into service.

I would generally agree - it is slowly getting better, and I too wasn't expecting it to suddenly improve after SafeTrack. There is still a lot of other work that remains to be done - on the one hand it sort of seems like they know what the problems are. But then you have stories about "black" condition defects being downgraded and left in service and as long as they are pulling stunts like that, it is hard to regain confidence in WMATA management.
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Re: WMATA rail: getting better or worse?

Postby MCL1981 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:38 am

They could wave a magic wand and fix all the deficiencies at 9am this morning. It will all fall apart again starting at 10am. Because they have the same managers and the same workers that caused the problems still working without consequence. It will never change until WMATA changes their business model from a local jobs program, to a railroad.
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