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Rail News: Passenger Rail

WMATA extends rush-hour program, improves rider alert system


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) board last week approved an expansion of the rush-hour promise program through June 2019.

In addition, the program now will include unscheduled delays of 10 minutes or more instead of the current 15 minutes. Beginning Jan. 1, any Metrorail or Metrobus rider who uses a registered SmarTrip card and experiences a rush-hour delay of 10 minutes or more will receive a Metro credit for future travel.

"Metro service continues to be more reliable, thanks to new preventive maintenance programs and new rail cars. We understand our customers' time is valuable and we are holding ourselves accountable to deliver reliable, on-time service," said WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld in a press release.

Launched in January 2018, the rush-hour promise program so far has credited back about $1 million for more than 277,000 trips that registered delays exceeding 15 minutes, representing 0.3 percent of all rush-hour trips during the period.

Customer research suggests the program has restored confidence in reliability — a key measure to attract new riders and encourage existing ones to continue using the system, WMATA officials said. Over the past 10 months, 93 percent of riders who received promise credits returned, reversing past trends when unreliable service drove customers away, they said.

The board will consider whether to extend the program beyond June as part of the fiscal-year 2020 budget.

Meanwhile, WMATA also recently introduced an improved MetroAlerts system application that's designed to make it easier for passengers to obtain valuable ride information.

The new features enable Metrorail and Metrobus riders to customize the alerts they receive by day and time, and use multiple email addresses or phone numbers on one account.

MetroAlerts issue text or email alerts about disruptions or delays that could affect a trip on a specific rail line. Riders no longer will receive automatic alerts all day — only when they want, for the times of day they choose based on their travel patterns, WMATA officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/17/2018