The Washington Post

Report: Metro buses are late; rail ‘erratic’

Metro’s buses are late and its rail reliability has worsened in what officials call an “erratic pattern of performance” due to a lack of parts, problems with rail car doors and other rail car equipment failures, according to a monthly report on the transit system’s performance.

At a Metro board Customer Service and Operations Committee meeting Thursday, staffers are expected to present the “Vital Signs Scorecard,” which gives a look at Metro’s bus and rail performance.

The good:

• Metro made improvements in the reliability of its bus fleet as maintenance staff “began addressing the root cause of engine cooling problems in newer buses.”

• Metro Transit Police say serious crime is down in the system, especially in parking facilities, through April 2011 when compared to the same period in 2010. Authorities attribute the decrease to “intensified policing actions.”

The bad:

• Bus on-time performance continued “a worsening trend” and so did rail fleet reliability because of troubles with doors and challenges getting parts.

Escalator availability worsened and “will likely continue to decline as maintenance staff inspect and uncover problems that have long been neglected.” To more quickly fix repairs, Metro is assigning a maintenance team to address problems found in inspections at its busiest stations.

In addition to the customer service committee, the board’s Finance and Administration and Governance committees are scheduled to meet Thursday. Other issues on the agendas include:

• Providing a new bus route between Franconia-Springfield and Fort Belvoir to to help with the shift of workers as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. The personnel shifts are scheduled to take place by September.

• Studying ways to do more financial forecasting for Metro’s annual budgets.

• A year-to-date financial report that shows Metro’s salary, wages and overtime are $2.3 million above budget because of “maintenance workload resulting in overtime.” Revenue is $26.7 million below budget because of a shortfall in rail and bus revenue. Supply costs are $2.9 million over budget due to “unanticipated repairs.”

Follow me on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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