Changes planned for Red Line
Richard Sarles, the interim general manager of Metro, has been on the job just a few weeks and hasn't been too visible to the riders. But he had some interesting things to say about his plans when he testified before a House committee on Wednesday that was looking into Metro safety and governance.
As the Metro board today discusses how to close the transit authority's $189 million budget gap, it will be looking at plans to adjust the schedule on the Red Line, Sarles said. The result would be wider scheduled gaps between trains, but more eight-car trains.
Widening the gap between trains hardly sounds like an upgrade, but riders know that the current Red Line schedule is a fantasy. For example, it doesn't reflect the addition of an extra station at New York Avenue, and it certainly doesn't reflect last year's switch to manual control of all trains.
The change in the official schedule would establish three minute gaps between trains from Grosvenor to Silver Spring and six minute gaps from Silver Spring to Glenmont and Grosvenor to Shady Grove. Metro says this will improve reliability throughout the day. And the capacity on the line will remain constant, because the number of eight-car trains will be increased.
In his testimony, Sarles said Metro is looking at improving on-time performance for its services, boosting the reliability of elevators and escalators and increasing training for front-line employees. He talked about improving the physical condition of the transit system.
The Metro system, he said, "must be brought into a state of good repair."
"We're developing products that will allow the public to see how we're doing," Sarles said. He called this a "vital signs report."
The Metro board is preparing to hire a search firm to help find a permanent replacement for former general manager John B. Catoe Jr., who resigned effective April 2, so Sarles is a short-timer. But if he can accomplish one of those goals he set out Wednesday, he will be remembered fondly by riders.
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