Metro GM seems for fare evasion resolution whereas stressing customer support – The Washington Put up

By | September 5, 2022

A bit of a couple of month on the job, Metro Common Supervisor Randy Clarke hasn’t ordered vital service adjustments on the nation’s third-largest transit company, however as a substitute has spent a lot of his time listening to riders, elected officers and others whereas refocusing worker consideration on customer support.
He stated these are essential steps for what he plans to do: Remake Metro right into a transit system that caters to all riders, not simply commuters — a aim made extra necessary by the dramatic lack of commuters amid progress in telework. Ridership losses have Metro officers projecting an annual working price range shortfall of as much as $500 million that would begin as quickly as subsequent summer season.
On the similar time, Clarke is coping with a prepare scarcity brought on by a defect discovered within the wheels of Metro’s 7000-series rail automobiles, the majority of which stay suspended till the transit company determines a option to function them safely.
The automobiles make up about 60 p.c of Metro’s rail fleet, and their absence has created common prepare waits of greater than 10 minutes for almost a yr. Additional irritating riders is the rising prevalence of fare evasion.
Clarke spoke to The Washington Put up about his plans. The interview was calmly edited for size and readability.
New Metro GM faces security, monetary challenges on first day
Q. How fearful are you about Metro’s monetary state, and do you suppose transit ridership has leveled out throughout the nation previously few weeks and that there aren’t many extra commuters on the market due to telework?
A. Metro might be uniquely completely different in a method than a few of these [other transit systems], in that whereas society is shifting previous this pandemic, we additionally usually are not working common frequency. We’re sort of coping with a double disaster. Most of our rail fleet — we nonetheless have vital challenges bringing them again. And I do suppose now we have a big drop in ridership primarily based on our incapability proper for the time being to ship the frequency that the area desires. I believe some individuals are pondering, “I’m not ready quarter-hour for a prepare — after which with a switch? That’s not going to work for me.”
Q. Even in the event you get all of the trains again and repair frequencies again up, what’s the way forward for transit in a teleworking world?
A. In some methods I believe transit goes to be higher long-term in that we — each right here at Metro and the transit business as a complete — are beginning to actually take into account that we aren’t nearly commuters. I’ve been saying this for years, and I believe this transition is definitely going to be wholesome for us. Is likely to be painful for a interval, however I believe long-term it’s wholesome.
I’ve been a giant believer that if you’re working part-time on the Capital One Middle and also you’re working concessions, we should always have the ability to get you residence after work, similar to we get [federal] GS-13 staff to HUD or DOE or no matter federal company, every single day. Our outdated mannequin was very commuter-hour pushed with peaks, and I believe we’re going to evolve into: what does the frequency scheduling appear like that helps a strong, various economic system? As a result of the extra various our economic system is, the higher it’s and extra resilient it’s. So the federal employees are at all times going to be a big piece of this economic system.
However in the event you take a look at Northern Virginia, it’s changing into arguably the cybertech capital of the world. Now we have a tremendous metropolis of nightlife and eating places and occasions. 4 main sporting venues are on the Inexperienced Line. I don’t suppose there’s one other place in America that has 4 sporting venues on one rail line. Now we have arguably the very best museums in America. Now we have the Nationwide Zoo. Now we have all of those different issues like marathons and different occasions. Now we have to be open to what journey patterns or fashions appear like and handle our workforce and our belongings to get probably the most.
Metro’s new normal supervisor is optimistic riders will return
Q. The place can Metro discover new clients?
A. I consider this area is superb. I dwell right here. It’s rising. It’s not stagnant. If something, now we have extra of a housing disaster and land use problem connecting to transit. However I believe the area has matured dramatically at that, and that’s getting higher. We get the Silver Line extension open, that’s a big worldwide airport that’s going to be served. Meaning we’re serving two airports. That renovation undertaking at Union Station goes to alter this area eternally. The concept MARC and VRE trains can run by way of with Amtrak, which then connects to us. Now we have the Purple Line that’s finally going to attach New Carrollton. New Carrollton has loads of alternative behind it. Now we have the Potomac Yards station coming on-line. So I believe that there are a good quantity of inexperienced shoots.
New Metro chief says first precedence is restoring rail service
Q. You’ve elevated customer support hours at Metro to deal with calls and points from riders, and Metro has been extra clear and responsive on social media about delays and different points. You’ve apologized personally on Twitter to riders while you see them elevating considerations. How are you reshaping customer support?
A. I’m the shopper champion every single day. I’m texting employees every single day about issues. I’m within the system every single day. I’m on a bus, I’m on a prepare and at a station. I believe it’s simple for transit businesses to get misplaced — and this isn’t a unfavourable — it’s simple to get misplaced on initiatives and grants and issues and get pulled away from the aim for which we exist. I believe covid has re-grounded, not simply us, however most likely a number of public companies and reminded everybody why we even do what we do. We construct stuff and run stuff — for folks. I believe there’s a resurgence of framing service by placing public good or neighborhood outcomes earlier than all else.
Video: Metro’s new normal supervisor discusses methods to enhance ridership
Q. One problem many really feel has surged through the pandemic and has largely gone unaddressed by Metro is fare evasion. Is that this one thing Metro plans to deal with?
A. It’s a difficult subject. It’s not Metro-specific, it’s nationwide. Very difficult, most likely extra so on the bus facet. So one factor we need to be clear about is I’m not going to have our entrance line employees getting in a bodily altercation primarily based on a fare. That’s unfair to our staff. And No. 2, I believe it’s truthful to say we’ve misplaced some societal norms within the final couple of years. Clearly, folks don’t behave in a super method on a regular basis in public areas. They’re behaving in a method most of us who grew up a sure method don’t suppose is suitable. I might argue that that’s not a Metro problem. That may be a deeper societal problem, and we’re only a piece of the neighborhood.
I believe we most likely might acknowledge that the fare gate design on the rail facet is suboptimal. I’ve already requested the workforce to start out trying into potential modifications on that. I’m going to get criticized for that, and Metro screwed up. Whether or not it screwed up or not, there’s additionally some superb know-how within the new fare gates. You need to use your telephone, and there’s all this information we will acquire. They usually’re not breaking just like the outdated ones broke down, however fare gate design is an apparent factor we will take a look at. Quantity two, now we have to determine methods to work with our companions within the District, now that fare evasion isn’t criminalized, on enforcement within the civil quotation space. I believe we will perhaps deploy video [surveillance] just a little higher and get folks to grasp that while you come onto our property, you’re coming onto the neighborhood’s property and to please present respect to the opposite people that use this station or use this prepare or this bus. I’m going to ask native leaders to assist me.
There’s solely a lot Metro can do. Now we have to get others to be a part of the answer, as properly. And so beneath this problem to me is the fare construction itself. Now we have to be open and sincere. One factor we did in Austin [where Clarke was chief executive of the transit system] — and I don’t know if it’s proper for right here, it’s not my choice — we created an Equifare program the place folks that actually have vital points financially might get decreased fares. On the similar time, folks that may pay, perhaps must pay just a little bit extra. Now — and one factor I satisfaction myself on is telling the reality — not everybody that’s leaping the gate is somebody that may’t afford to pay. However the different factor is there’s really a good quantity of youngsters which are doing it. And the children really experience totally free [through a D.C. program that provides free transit cards to students]. This can be a long-winded method of claiming now we have some issues that we’re engaged on.
Commuting: Workplaces have reopened. Persuading commuters to fill them isn’t so easy.
Metro: GM seems for fare evasion resolution whereas stressing customer support
Airways: It appears everyone seems to be mad at airways. Fall might carry calmer skies.
Interstate 66: 9 miles of recent 66 Categorical Lanes to open round Sept. 10
Tourism: D.C. sees a lift in guests, however full restoration stays elusive


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.