July 16, 2009

D.C. Metro reorganizes bus services

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) managers have reorganized Metrobus, the transit agency’s bus service in an effort to improve safety, reliability, customer service and efficiency.

Changes began in January at the three northern Virginia bus divisions and were implemented at the remaining six garages in the District of Columbia and Maryland by May.

More information about delays and detours is being posted on Metro’s Website, and the real-time bus information system, NextBus, was launched earlier this month. Managers in the office and or field can now track buses in real-time when the vehicles are on the street, and contact bus operators and their supervisors to troubleshoot early arrivals or delays.

Under the old management structure, a customer complaint was sent to a division’s superintendent. The superintendent was responsible for investigating the complaint and managing 300-500 bus operators. Under the new system, a complaint is sent immediately to the superintendent and then sent to the newly promoted street supervisors, who are now called service operations managers. They now manage 25 bus operators and investigate complaints and incidents.

The managers also now have laptops on the streets that can be used to track buses in real-time, and they are in the process of receiving more training.

Last year, the northern Virginia bus divisions reported 3,469 customer complaints between January and April about delays, buses skipping stops, not showing up and driver behavior. For the first four months of the year, there were 216 fewer complaints. Metrobus riders take about 450,000 trips per day.

Service operations managers also are having more conversations about safety with operators. The rate of preventable Metrobus accidents fell nearly 6.5 percent at the northern Virginia bus divisions between fiscal 2008 compared to fiscal 2009, which runs from June to July. On-the-job inquires also fell about 13 percent during the same time period.

 

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