WMATA Log – Week of September 6, 2015

Here’s a running log of WMATA mentions from around the web.
Did I miss one? Comment below or email me the link: chris at fixwmata dot com.
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WMATA Log – Week of August 30, 2015

Here’s a running log of WMATA mentions from around the web.
Did I miss one? Comment below or email me the link: chris at fixwmata dot com.
Read More

The Social Subway 2.0

4 years after a social media revolution at WMATA there’s still plenty of work to be done.

In 2011 WMATA had a social media revolution. I know because I was there for it and to a better or worser degree was part of it. The change that spurred this revolution was the hiring of Dan Stessel. I suppose one could also attribute this revolution to Former General Manager Richard Sarles for hiring Dan, but I wouldn’t go too far in giving him much credit.

At the time I was trying to nudge WMATA towards a social media revolution myself. I was just getting started with @FixWMATA and was tracking #HotCar reports. Prior to Dan I was tweeting those reports to @MetroOpensDoors, WMATA’s first Twitter account. When Dan came on they changed their handle to a much more appropriate @WMATA.

Washington City Paper did a very lengthy article on the 2011 social media revolution at WMATA called “The Social Subway”. That article was published 4 years ago today on August 12, 2011. The article goes into depth on the history of WMATA public affairs, how other agencies handled the digital revolution, and how Dan – a fresh new face to WMATA – was going to bring DC Metro’s digital life into the future.

I humbly admit that Dan did do that. WMATA’s social media may not be what I want it to be but anyone who reads that 2011 article and compares where we were then to where we are now has to give Dan credit. Thanks to Dan, and I’m sure many others, we now have at least some reply from WMATA on Twitter. We now have email alerts that get delivered 24/7, a big win for people whether or not they’re on Twitter. For a nice stretch of time we had the @MetroForward account that gave riders information about the “rebuilding” projects that were delaying their trip mid-days, weeknights, and all weekend. We got Twitter accounts that became more focused and allowed riders to pick which information they wanted. Only ride the bus and never ride rail? Thanks to Dan and his team you can follow @MetroBusInfo and skip all the rail alerts.

But for all the good Dan and Co. produced there have been a few bad moments. It seems like every time Dan appears on TV something comes out of his mouth that makes me clutch my pearls. “One person’s harassment is another person’s flirting.” is one Danism that will likely never go away.

Still, I hold out hope for Dan and the WMATA Public Affairs office because I know humans are fallible and humans are capable of taking feedback and making change. I also realize sometimes those changes don’t come easy because of a culture that resists change – WMATA likely being a perfect example.  But there’s always hope.

With that in mind I’d like to submit that it’s time for WMATA to consider a new digital revolution – building on the one that’s already begun. Hoping to be a person of encouragement instead of being a critical voice (all the time, anyway) I offer my ideas for the next phase of WMATA’s Twitter strategy: Read More

“Did Not Operate” Trains On The Rise

Guest-post by @MetroReasons

Does it sometimes feel like more and more WMATA trains don’t run as they’re scheduled to? I’m here to say, unfortunately, it is not your imagination or made up. Ever since the start of revenue service on the Silver Line, the number of train cancellations – those that do not operate as scheduled – have gone up and up. Formerly averaging 37 trains per month that did not operate in the 5 years before the Silver Line’s opening, the number of canceled trains has now spiked to 141 cancelled trains on average per month since July 2014 through July 2015. This impacts the system most when the maximum number of trains are needed for service, that is, morning and evening rush hours.


The 6am hour is usually the one most impacted, closely followed by the 7am, 3pm, and 4pm hours (24, 29, 24, and 17 trains canceled on average per month for each hour, respectively). These four hours are some that WMATA says are the most important to them as a transit agency.

When broken down by line, it is plainly obvious to see that the Orange line is most impacted by the opening of the Silver line, and in general, all cancelled trains since 2012. Surprisingly though, the Green and (to a lesser-extent) Yellow lines have also been impacted in recent months, neither of which share track with the Silver line and are unlikely to share rail yards. Again, the spike in scheduled-but-cancelled trains is clear to see starting once the Silver line went into revenue service in July of 2014.


All told, this issue is not just of importance to riders, but also one of importance to WMATA. If the number of trains canceled correlates at all to the number of customers who choose alternate methods of transportation, this looks to parallel decreases in ridership and lower revenue for the system. Each 6-car train cancelled loaded with 100 passengers per train is potentially an extra 600 riders in the system, meaning the average rise in cancellations post-Silver Line could be resulting in around 750,000* fewer fare-generating trips per year riding the system.

Thus in addition to bringing customers more frustration by increasing crowding, waits, or resorts to alternate transportation methods, WMATA may end up overestimating the revenue brought in by rail operations of a tune of $1.5 million or more.

* Each month has seen an average increase of 104 extra cancelled trains as compared to before the Silver line. If we assume each of these is a 6-car train with each car carrying on average 100 passengers, this adds up to 748,800 cancelled “seats” moving through the system.
$ Data for March 2011 through April 2012 is missing. February 2011 data only constitutes the first half of the month.
# Raw data can be provided upon request.

Unanswered Questions

There are a few things I’d like some answers on. Of course I’ve been posing these questions to WMATA via @metrorailinfo but have received no reply… maybe I’ve been blocked again? Who knows.

First up: new 7000-series trains. WMATA started rolling these new trains out in April and currently there are 3 trains with 8 cars on each train in service over 3 rail lines (Blue, Orange, and Red). My question: when will the 4th train go into service? One can assume some time in August (April: train 1, May: train 2, June: train 3) but why can’t WMATA put out a schedule of upcoming new trains and the line they’ll go on? Even if that schedule just says “August” it’s better PR than nothing at all.

A separate issue regarding the 7000-series trains: why did they skip 8 cars in the roll out? Are they having problems? (Cars 7000-7007 and 7016-7031 are in service, no word on 7008-7015).

Next up: automatic train operation. Also in April came the news that the Red Line would FINALLY go back to automatic train operation, or ATO… but only on 8-car trains and only on the Red Line. Anyone riding the Red Line can tell you 8-car trains are scarce so that’s a very small number of trains. The unanswered questions here are when will 6-car trains get the software upgrade needed to go back to ATO and are the 8-car trains still running in ATO on the Red Line?

Finally, cell service: at July congressional hearings lawmakers gave WMATA a “deadline” of “September” or, as Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) put it, they’ll take management away from WMATA! That’s a REALLY serious threat – whether or not the means to follow through are there. Well, here it is August, WMATA just today had the only board meeting they’ll have in August, and there’s absolutely no word on progress with cell service in the tunnels. I’m pretty sure Mr. Mica isn’t going to be thrilled when Congress comes back from recess in September. Are we looking at a WMATA coup over cell service? WMATA has no response to this rather ominous threat?

Just a Thursday…

And these are just the things @Metrorailinfo reported on Twitter today – doesn’t include all the other things reported by riders.

6:46 AM – Switch problem outside Rosslyn.
8:42 AM – Train malfunction at Clarendon.
8:59 AM – Switch problem outside Vienna.
9:02 AM – Switch problem outside E Falls Church.
9:34 AM – Disabled train at Metro Center.
9:43 AM – Medical emergency at NoMA.
9:45 AM – Train malfunction outside Court House.
12:26 PM – Train malfunction at L’Enfant.
4:22 PM – Train malfunction at U Street.
4:47 PM – Train malfunction at Tenleytown.
5:21 PM – Train malfunction at Southern Ave.
6:06 PM – Arcing insulator at Fort Totten.
10:27 PM – Switch problem outside NoMa.

Congress Is Fed Up with WMATA!

Watch as Congress gives WMATA all shade no tea!
(the good stuff starts 36 minutes into the video)

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WMATA’s Budget Problems…

… clearly do not extend to the “swag” department.

Side note… when your transit agency is plagued with rail cars and stations that are so hot they’re often the scene of heat-related medical emergencies perhaps sweatbands and paper fans aren’t the most tactful use of your budget.

Just Another Manic Monday

Weekend: Ruined

Fallen Blossoms

WMATA Daily Service Report Recap – 2015 Q1

Who doesn’t like numbers?


WMATA Daily Service Report Recap 2015 Q1 (PDF)

Source Data (XLSX)

News Dump

The WMATA-related news keeps coming hot and heavy. Here’s a round up of today’s articles:

Washington Post: Starving Metro to save it

Washington Post: Maryland, D.C. officials seek Metro management overhaul

Gazette: Transit center on schedule for spring release, official says

Red State: It’s time for #WMATA reform.

March 29, 2015 at 02:39PM

RT @TheBarnesology: Houston Metro social media guru’s. http://t.co/Omc7dcZoT1

March 26, 2015 at 12:48PM

And the the CTA “PIDS” equivalent http://t.co/EMqR4FAIOH

March 26, 2015 at 12:47PM

Taking CTA to O’hare – their fare gates… http://t.co/SeIhjiIrHq

March 23, 2015 at 11:34AM

RT @TheBarnesology: I’m on a CTA train watching a CTA rail car go down the freeway. #meta http://t.co/fc2F2ntlXx

March 23, 2015 at 11:12AM

RT @TheBarnesology: A big transit “oops” happened here. http://t.co/FBCbBbBu2d

March 19, 2015 at 04:09PM

While sitting at L’Enfant station just a few hundred feet where Carol Glover died. #WMATA #noservice #tmobile http://t.co/5NvQrlIGvr

March 18, 2015 at 04:42PM

Red Line to Shady Grove! #WMATA http://t.co/p6C80xOeE1