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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Metro adds daily escalator stats

By Luke Rosiak

Days after Metro announced that it had reorganized the oversight of its escalator division, there has been at least one small forward-facing change. This week, the agency tweaked its Web site's escalator outage reports page to include not just a listing of broken vertical transport, but summaries illustrating the number of total outages and their basic causes.

It's a move towards the sort of accountability the Post aimed to provide with its "Going up?" performance tracker widget, which has been keeping tabs on problem spots and trends over time since July.

The shake-up did not fire longtime division head David Lacosse, but created a higher-level position, general superintendent of elevator and escalator programs, and filled it with Rodrigo Bitar.

By Luke Rosiak  | January 7, 2011; 4:00 PM ET
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Dr. Gridlock

Thanks for the elevator outage widget - to quote Gerald Weinberg, to solve a problem, you have to make it a problem for the people who can solve it. And there's nothing like data and transparency to do just that.

I think the Post could do just a little more to get focus where it's needed ...

I. Track data that riders can really relate to.

1. "Planning Headache Score": "# of initial e-mail announcements made that a train problem will result in a delay" (just count those e-mails we get saying The Red Line will be experiencing delays due to track problems outside of Friendship Heights)

2. "Platform Misery Factor", the "number of arrivals delayed by at least 10 minutes / number of all arrivals", reported by day. Even better, weight the factor by the average number of degrees below freezing during rush hour that day.

II. Use Sparklines to display the data in context.
- Sparklines are little trend lines that are very easy to create, don't take up much room, and are quickly understood - the Post already links to a Bloomberg page that uses sparklines for Stock Market Prices (go to, the table labeled "Indices", under the column "5 day trend").

III. Increase Visibility
- Since sparklines are so compact, display them in a little "Metro Scorecard" box on the front page of the Metro Section every day.

By gathering just a little more data and giving it a bit more prominence, the Post could really help get focus on what's needed to improve the Metro experience.

Posted by: EarnestReader | January 8, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

It's a start. and I guess we have to start somewhere. But the stats don't get to the whole of the problem. Escalators at each station should be broken out. Knowing that 15% of the escalators on the yellow line are not working doesn't tell me that how long those escalators have been down. For instance the lower platform escalator at the Pentagon has been out for 6 weeks. no on-going work, no explanation, just an escalator blocked off. Metro should be forced to account for each escalator - I don't care about every escalator on the yellow line - I only care about the one I am (not) using.

Posted by: sbgmk | January 9, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

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