WMATA GM & CEO Discusses Metro Improvements

Posted Date: 
January 10, 2012


WMATA General Manager & CEO Richard Sarles speaks to the Chamber's Infrastructure and Land Use Committee
Committee Vice-Chair Gus Bauman took attendance and welcomed the committee. He introduced Richard Sarles, General Manager & CEO of the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
Sarles began the conversation by discussing the 27 NTSB recommendations and its criticism of WMATA he faced upon his arrival after the Fort Totten metro crash in 2009. What he found was a system that was in need of rebuilding. Sarles embarked on the transit system's largest capital program since its construction: $5 billion in order to enhance metro’s safety, reliability, and bringing the system to a state of good repair. This included replacing or fixing rail cars, buses, escalators, track, technology, infrastructure, bus garages and more. 
The committee discussed several ways to improve the average ride on Metro. Sarles mentioned that Metro will be purchasing 428 new rail cars to replace the 30-year-old cars, rehabilitating 100 buses a year for six years, and buying 100 new busses a year. The committee discussed ways to improve the rider experience by making station and train announcements clearer, improving customer service in the station, and de-bugging the SmarTrip system.
Sarles addressed the committee on the same day as metro released its FY13 budget, which included a 5% rail increase. He explained that the additional fees are to generate $66 million in an increase to revenues to revitalize the system and prepare for the addition of the Silver Line, which will extend to Dulles airport through Northern Virginia. Metro will also restructure its system for buying fairs by incentivizing the use of SmarTrip cards and reducing confusion over how much a fare costs by eliminating the “peak-of-the-peak” fare.
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