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Rail News: Passenger Rail

WMATA: Customer care campaign


Right on the heels of its second record ridership month in a row, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is deepening its commitment to customer service with a 60-day "Call To Action" campaign.

On Aug. 10, Metro's board approved $4.08 million to reduce the length of time it takes to overhaul escalators in banks, or wellways, containing only one or two units from 16 weeks to 12 weeks. Fifty-one escalators will be affected; the remaining 119 units scheduled for overhaul will be completed in the scheduled 16-week period.

"Where we are working on an escalator in one of those three-escalator wellways, we will do everything possible to make sure that at least one of the other two escalators is working at all times," said WMATA General Manager Richard White in a prepared statement.

The board also approved $400,000 to build permanent stairs at the Judiciary Square Metro station; $375,000 for new escalator steps; $450,000 for improvements to three escalators at the Dupont Circle Metro stations, requiring 90 days to complete; and $600,000 for improved signage.

Communication, capacity also get boost
Initiatives also include improved communications training over the next 90 days to foster clearer and more frequent announcements regarding delays, service disruptions and significant escalator and elevator outages. Personnel stationed in the operations control center ensure all messages delivered to passengers, the public and media are clear, consistent, accurate and timely. And a customer assistance representative stationed on Metro Center platforms gives customers directions, answers question, takes suggestions and provides information and assistance. The program, which began Sept. 5, is staffed with existing employees.

Also, WMATA is implementing an employee contact phone line to be staffed by existing personnel and two new staff positions for employees to report system problems, obtain information to assist customers and recommend improvements; and an "Adopt a Mezzanine" program designed for senior managers will work with station managers to ensure platform cleanliness and signage legibility, and provide customer service assistance.

To improve system operations, WMATA redeployed 12 rail cars on the Blue and Yellow lines in mid-August to increase capacity during rush hours. And the agency is purchasing $100,000 worth of equipment this fall to better clean the third-rail insulators.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/31/2000