The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) board of directors voted to expand its first-of-its-kind Rush Hour Promise program through June 2019, and to improve it to include unscheduled delays of 10 minutes or more, rather than 15 minutes today.
Beginning January 1, Metrorail or Metrobus customers using a registered SmarTrip card who experiences a rush-hour delay of 10-minutes or more will receive a Metro credit for future travel.
“Metro service continues to be more reliable, thanks to new preventive maintenance programs and new railcars,” said WMATA GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We understand our customers' time is valuable and we are holding ourselves accountable to deliver reliable, on-time service.”
The service guarantee, first launched in January, has credited back approximately $1 million for more than 277,000 trips with delays greater than 15 minutes. This represents .3% of all rush hour trips during that period and 50% of lower than original projections, while also helping to maintain current ridership.
In September, WMATA achieved its highest on-time performance in more than seven years when 90% of 13.1 million passenger trips arrived within the expected travel time.
Customer research suggests Rush Hour Promise has restored confidence in reliability, a key measure to attract new riders and encourage existing riders to continue using WMATA. Over the past 10 months, most customers (93%) who received Rush Hour Promise credits returned, reversing past trends when unreliable service drove customers away.
The expanded service guarantee is recognition of WMATA’s continued improvement and investment in new trains, robust preventive maintenance, and capital improvements. Railcar performance is now the best in eight years, traveling 50% more miles before experiencing delays, according to the agency. Fire incidents also declined nearly 40% in the past year and track problems decreased by 83% in the first quarter of FY2019.
Customers who wish to take advantage of the Rush Hour Promise program can simply register their SmarTrip card anytime. The program is fully automated for rail riders. The system measures when a customer “taps into” the system and when they “tap out.” If the trip takes 10 minutes or longer than the expected travel range, a credit will be provided to cover the full value of the delayed trip for customers paying with stored value or using SmartBenefits.
WMATA will consider whether to extend the program beyond June as part of the FY2020 budget.