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WMATA to implement customer service initiatives

Yesterday, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) officials outlined a series of initiatives designed to increase reliability and improve customer service.

During the past seven years, rail and bus ridership has increased 33 percent, but service reliability has declined.

"The number of customer complaints have increased," said WMATA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Richard White in a prepared statement. "As a result, it is now time for everyone at Metro to recommit ourselves to a back-to-basics program focusing on safe, reliable and clean service, and improved customer service and outreach."

During the next several months, WMATA plans to:

• Appoint one person for each line who will be responsible for all customer service issues and day-to-day operations. The person’s name, photograph and contact information would be posted in stations and on trains;

• Implement a training program for all Operations Control Center (OCC) personnel that would review troubleshooting techniques, operating rules, radio communications, signal systems and assigned rail lines. All OCC personnel would be required to complete the two- to three-day refresher course by January;

• Host regular open houses and town hall meetings, and Internet chat sessions to answer customers’ questions;

• Use its Web site to better inform passengers about major service disruptions and actions implemented to restore normal operations;

• Develop a plan to replace a current customer complaint tracking system with a reporting system designed to detail specific service trends;

• Develop a response plan to enable OCC personnel to post incident updates through WMATA’s Intranet site to better inform passengers about delays, and develop an enhanced Web-based system to provide service updates to WMATA employees so they can relay accurate information to customers;

• Provide more details on service delays via station and train announcements and deploy top managers and staff to help customers during service disruptions;

• Create a plan to provide on-the-spot refunds to passengers who leave the rail system after entering a station because of a major service delay; and

• Require that station managers complete a refresher customer service course.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/19/2004