Citing a need to accelerate escalator reliability for customers, Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles today announced actions that the agency is taking to expedite repair of Metroâ€™s escalators.
â€œWhile we have made progress towards our maintenance compliance goals and improving the quality of repairs, we need to expand our efforts to give customers the safe and reliable escalators they deserve,â€ he said. â€œSimply put, we need more people power to catch up and recover from years of poor maintenance practices. Metroâ€™s escalators are a prime example of the rebuilding work that needs to be done throughout the system.â€
A Request for Proposals (RFP) being issued in a few days will call for a ready workforce that supplements WMATAâ€™s in-house team, by maintaining escalators at stations in Virginia, including Orange Line stations from Rosslyn to Vienna, with options that would include Foggy Bottom to New Carrollton, as well as escalator support for the new stations serving the rail extension to Dulles Airport.
At todayâ€™s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors Committee on Customer Service, Deputy General Manager for Operations, David Kubicek, provided a report on escalator progress indicating that the Authorityâ€™s efforts to make all necessary repairs to improve reliability have resulted in double the number of out of service hours for escalators this year.
â€œWe recognize that this intense effort has caused more escalators to be out of service at this time, but know that in the long run, customers will have more reliable escalators. However, considering our progress year to date, the feedback from outside experts, and the impact on our customers, we are moving as any business would to contract for the additional support to address this critical customer service,â€ Kubicek said.
With a full court press effort this year, Metro was able to increase its maintenance compliance rate to 52 percent, up from 39 percent in 2010. Achieving its goal of 85 percent would take years to recruit, hire, and train 60 additional personnel. By contracting out a select amount of work, Metro said the supplemental personnel could be in place early next year.
Metro also announced next steps in its capital program to rebuild and replace escalators, which already resulted in the first replacement escalator in 15 years being placed into service at Foggy Bottom on July 10. The second of three new entrance escalators is expected to go in service within the next two weeks.
In another move to expedite repairs, Kubicek announced that early next year, Metro would replace the three escalators at the 19th Street entrance of Dupont Circle. In order to safely and more quickly replace the units, the entrance will need to be closed. A more complete schedule and details will be announced later this fall.
â€œTo ensure that the community is aware, we will begin to work immediately to notify local officials, businesses, and our customers about how this work will be staged and what they can expect so that there are no surprises at this busy station,â€ Kubicek said.
The latest news and information regarding escalator replacement at Dupont Circle and around the system is available on Twitter @metroforward, on the MetroForward Facebook page, and on Metroâ€™s website, wmata.com.