Analyzing Metro's Performance
As Deputy General Manager Gerald Francis was starting to tell Metro board members about improvements in customer communications today, board member Chris Zimmerman said he wanted to talk about other important forms of communication.
Zimmerman, the Arlington representative, board chairman and advocate for better bus service, clearly wasn't happy with Metro's performance during the past two weeks.
Hadn't Metro been notified on Sunday that the region was under a Code Red air quality forecast for Monday, triggering the free bus ride program in the suburbs?
Metro has said that the fax and e-mail notifications the transit authority received had obscured the "Code Red" alert. (The alert has a red-colored box containing the word "Red," but to Metro, it just looked like a solid-dark box on the fax and the Metro computer couldn't read the HTML box in the e-mail version.)
Given that these alerts are part of a highly-valued and long-standing regional transit program, Metro was most uncurious about why it was receiving the notifications. No call was made to resolve the mystery of the messages. As a result, Metrobus riders were paying fares early Monday for bus rides that should have been free.
While the message was obscure, it was still "our responsibility to have called and found out what was in that box," General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. told Zimmerman and the other board members. "We failed to do this."
There was no excuse for it, Catoe said, and the Metro staff met with the Council of Governments staff on Wednesday to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Zimmerman also questioned Metro's communications immediately after the Monday derailment on the Orange Line. More about that in the next blog post.
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