When the issue — dubbed “rail service criteria” — first surfaced this summer as part of a discussion before Metro’s Customer Service and Operations committee, there was a bit of confusion.
The initiative was an attempt by Metro officials to define service hours and the length of time riders could expect to wait between trains. But when some Metro watchers read the staff report, there were more questions than answers. Did it mean wait times could be as long as 30 minutes during off-peak hours? Was this an effort by Metro to lower the bar on train service? Did this mean slower service?
Board members asked for clarification. The Riders Advisory Council and Accessibility Advisory Committee, made up of Metro riders, asked that they be allowed to weigh in on the matter. The result will come before that board for consideration Thursday.
The three proposed rail standards detail Metro’s hours of service, how often trains run during rush hour and how many passengers should be allowed in Metro cars during rush hour.
Under the criteria being considered by the board, during rush hour, the time between trains should range from two-and-a-half-minutes to three minutes in sections of the system between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring; Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory; L’Enfant and Mount Vernon; and Pentagon and King Street. On other segments of the system, with the exception of Arlington Cemetery (sorry Blue Line riders), rush-hour trains should run every four to six minutes. Those waiting at Arlington Cemetery may have waits in the 12-minute range. Metro officials hope to maintain an average of 100 passengers per car during rush hour with no more than 120 and no fewer than 80.
A Metro spokeswoman said if the board approves the policy, it won’t change the way Metro operates, as some have feared. Rather, by making this an official board policy, it will allow the board of directors to hold Metro management accountable for making sure the trains run on time (sorry, couldn’t resist).