2023 Message from Randy Clarke, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer
As we set our intentions for this new year, Metro closed the book on 2022 with better service and solid plans to achieve more improvements in 2023, with the support of customers and regional partners.
Thanks to a tremendous amount of customer input and a sense of urgency among our entire team of committed Board Members and staff, Metrorail customer satisfaction jumped from 66% in June to 79% in November, and Metrobus customer satisfaction rose five points to 75%. That was driven by an increase in train capacity of 35% to accommodate returning customers. Since we began a new phase of our return to service plan for our newest 7000-series railcars, we have more frequent and safe service, with Red, Blue, Orange and Silver Line trains now operating 20 percent more often than just a few months ago.
We opened the Silver Line extension, and the next day recorded more than 600,000 total rail and bus trips, showcasing the long-awaited desire for service to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County. We finished platform reconstruction and other customer upgrades at five Orange Line Stations, advancing work for Metro’s first electric bus garages at Northern and Bladensburg, and connected Metrorail tracks with the new Potomac Yard Station, which will open in May. We implemented fare enforcement to help pay for services, as well as to restore fairness and order.
At year end, we rolled out Metrobus improvements to 29 routes to improve service now. As we approach the 50th Anniversary of Metrobus service in February, the kickoff of our Better Bus network redesign with 12,300 customer interactions, 18 pop up events and 5,300 survey responses, provides an opportunity to reimagine bus service for the future.
We capped off 2022 by supporting workers, businesses, and everyone who wanted to ring in the New Year by keeping bus and rail open until 2 am on New Year’s Day, and operating all services free to customers after 8 pm on New Year’s Eve. I appreciate the Board’s leadership in keeping drivers off the road and demonstrating that Metro is the safe way to hit the town.
We look forward to hearing more from our customers and stakeholders early this year during the public process of our proposed FY24 budget, which not only says how we will pay for Metro service but what you get for the investment. In addition to increased bus and rail service, we are dropping peak fare surcharges and initiating a low-income fare program. We’re also investing in a new Metro training center which will create a collaborative environment to promote enhanced safety, and technical training and staff development.
We’re focused on increasing our public safety efforts which means more police and more visibility on Metrobus and Metrorail. We’ve hired new crisis intervention specialists to ensure that people who are in need of mental health support get the resources they need. We’re also enhancing our video system with thousands of cameras used to help us quickly solve crimes and address unacceptable behavior. We are working to build our bench strength through recruitment and retention of Metrobus and Metrorail employees, which will enable us to provide even more safe, frequent and reliable service to support the region.
We are working night and day to bring our tracks and facilities to a state of good repair to provide service excellence. And we are combatting climate change with electric buses, solar carports, and other green technology advances.
But even with a budget in hand, our job isn’t done. We will be looking for the region’s feedback on our strategic plan #YourMetro, The Way Forward. Developed by the Board and staff to direct Metro’s decision making over the next five years, the plan serves as our North Star and begins to call the question about how we fund the Metro the region needs. The plan recognizes what the region has acknowledged since 1975, that Metro’s structural financial model cannot be solved by Metro alone.
Our region has just over a year to resolve the 50-year-long conversation about how to sustainably fund Metro so it remains the backbone of our economic prosperity for decades to come. The start of a new year is a time of possibility and action.