November 17, 2013

Regarding the Nov. 15 Metro story “Sarles: Sorry for Red Line problems”:

The three most commonly heard words from Metro: “regret,” “apologize” and “momentarily.” There’s plenty in Metro’s performance to regret and apologize for, but no, we will not be “moving momentarily.” General Manager Richard Sarles has joined the “apologize” bandwagon — and for good reason, as any Red Line commuter well knows. Apologies are nice, and they don’t cost anything. But we need more; we need accountability.●

Here is a proposal: Withhold 15 percent of the salary of Metro’s top five managers. Pay it to them only if Metro meets specified performance criteria. Measure the performance at six-month intervals. If the mechanical breakdowns, lack of communication and maintenance do not improve, especially at rush hour, then the compensation is forfeited. Let’s provide an incentive so that, for example, a Metro manager will drop everything and figure out in under three hours how to hook up a cable.

There are myriad excuses for Metro’s problems, but New York’s system is 70 years older than ours and seems to run much more smoothly. Maybe accountability has something to do with it. Let’s give it a try.

Peter R. Kolker, Washington

If you use the Red Line to commute to work as I do, last week was particularly horrid. From the ridiculous gaps between trains during Monday’s rush hour, to the delays and extreme overcrowding on Wednesday, to Thursday’s multiple problems and longer delays, I felt more like an abused sardine than a customer. The notion that these problems are the result of past failures to upgrade and maintain the system just doesn’t cut it any longer.

I propose that the board and upper management of Metro be required — unreimbursed — to use the service they oversee at least once a week at the height of rush hour. Maybe if they had to suffer along with the rest of us, we might finally see a modicum of understanding as to why so many of us look for alternatives to such regularly awful commutes. And maybe they would even fix the problems.

Edrie Irvine, Washington

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