“Offloading” is what Metro does when one of its trains breaks down. And in the first three months of this year, rail system officials say, they’ve had to offload passengers about half as frequently as they did the year before. A total of 218 trains were offloaded (a rate of 2.4 offloads per day). That compares with 433 offloads during the same period in 2016.
The officials consider this a “significant improvement in customer reliability.” It’s a result, they say, of an accelerated program to get rid of Metro’s older 1000 and 4000-series railcars, the least reliable in the Metro system.
Metro GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld has directed that all of these old cars be “retired” by the end of the year as new, more reliable 7000-series cars are delivered. To date, 70 percent of 1000-series cars and nearly half of 4000-series cars have been permanently removed from service.
Metro’s “mean distance between delays,” a metric that tracks how far a railcar travels, on average, before encountering a problem that delays a train, improved nearly 70 percent – from 48,064 miles between delays in the first quarter of 2016 to 81,451 miles in the first quarter of 2017. Specifically, propulsion-related delays were down 39 percent and door problems were down 16 percent during the period.
“These are all signs that Metro is starting to get ‘back to good,'” says Wiedefeld. “Once we complete the yearlong SafeTrack program in June, customers will notice their commutes are more predictable – and more likely to be on time.”
Metro has implemented a method of measuring on-time performance that is based on the actual customers’ experience, tracking travel times from the moment a customer taps into the system to the moment they tap out. So far this month, according to Metro, riders have arrived within five minutes of their expected arrival time about 90 percent of the time, even with SafeTrack maintenance in effect.