Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Washington DC, USA, has joined the Community of Metros as part of the North American Sub-Group. The North American Sub-Group brings together metro operators in North America to collaborate on benchmarking and focus on challenges particularly affecting operators in the region.
WMATA provides fully-accessible metro rail service across three jurisdictions in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, in addition to MetroBus and MetroAccess services in the region. WMATA is a nationally important public transport operator in the United States, providing the third largest metro system in the United States based on ridership (after New York City and Chicago), with approximately 180 million annual trips. It was created through a dedicated Compact in 1965 and the metro network opened in 1976 on a 7.4km, 5 station segment of the Red Line. Its original design consisted of 83 stations and approximately 160km of network length, and was delivered in phases until 2001: operations began in 1977 on the Blue Line, in 1978 on the Orange Line, in 1983 on the Yellow Line, in 2000 on the Green Line and 2014 on the Silver Line. The Blue, Orange and Silver Lines interline on some sections of route. The system is approximately 40% underground, particularly in the high-density District of Columbia, and its current fleet consists of approximately 1150 cars.
WMATA continues to add to the diversity of the Community of Metros, increasing the number of peers in North America and joining other “middle-aged” metros. One of WMATA’s notable practices is its focus on measuring and reporting its performance to customers across areas of service quality, safety, security and financial responsibility. Customers use the SmarTrip farecard to pay for their journeys on WMATA metro and bus services, and data from the SmarTrip system is used to calculate service quality indicators, such as customer on-time performance (known as “MyTripTime”). WMATA then analyses the sources of delay affecting this figure and identifies key actions to improve performance.
WMATA’s future strategic plans for the metro focus on delivering more capacity and reliability. Initiatives such as core station improvements to accommodate all eight-car trains during peak periods, adding passageways, escalators and stairs to improve passenger experience in stations, adding new Blue Line connections to reduce waiting times and adding pocket tracks and crossovers at key points on the network to deliver greater operational flexibility and resilience. The Community of Metros hopes to be a valuable source of knowledge and best practices to WMATA as it continues with these future initiatives, as well as its ongoing extensive Back2Good programme to improve total service provision to customers.