How Metro staff are fostering a safety culture of continuous improvement through transparent engagement

March 2024

Maintenance reporting channelBy Kimmy Feldbauer, Director of Your Metro Transformation Office

It has been exactly one year since our Board of Directors unanimously approved our Strategic Transformation Plan, Your Metro, the Way Forward. The Transformation team has been hard at work delivering on our plan, while exploring innovative and constructive ways to enhance collaboration across Metro and make your system better every day. One of these ways is empowering all staff to have a sense of ownership in the system.

Over the last year, Metro launched an internal Microsoft Teams channel called "Metro Maintenance Reporting." This is an effort in streamlining system maintenance issue reporting, while fostering a sense of ownership and transparency among all Metro employees on customer service excellence and a culture of continuous improvement. We initially piloted the Teams Maintenance Reporting channel with our leadership team, and eventually rolled it out enterprise-wide, where we currently have over 600 cross-department employees actively participating in the channel. In addition to being able to report issues, this provides visibility into the issues on the system and when resolution is identified.

The concept is pretty simple-if you spot an issue, snap a picture, provide as much detail as possible, and report it through the Teams app on your phone. The channel is monitored by the maintenance and customer service teams in our Metro Integrated Control Center. Before reporting maintenance issues, employees are asked to engage with front line staff to see if they are aware and if it has already been reported for resolution.

This channel allows Metro employees a direct way of identifying any issues they encounter while riding the system, acknowledging we cannot expect our front-line team to see everything all the time. In fact, we see this as a big asset for our front-line team members so we can all demonstrate that we are all responsible and committed to providing safe and customer-focused service to our community. Once issues are posted on the Teams channel, the maintenance personnel follow a process to address identified issues, then close the loop on items so there is awareness of the resolution. For example, employees have reported a spill inside a train that may not have been noticed by the maintenance team until the train is back to the terminus at the end of a trip. This enables a custodian crew to dispatch to a specific train and hop in to take care of the issue without interrupting service. Another example is sometimes external electronic signs on our buses may go offline and not display current information without the bus operator knowing. This allows our team to be notified and reconcile this critical customer information immediately and seek resolution.

Overall, this has been a tremendously positive improvement for our teams across the Integrated Control Center, maintenance, and custodial departments. It empowers our staff to foster a culture of continuous improvement. We have been able to slowly rollout a new idea and iterate on processes to maximize effort and improve our system for customers and staff. We look forward to continued progress on delivering better outcomes for #YourMetro!

Improving Your Ride Through Metro Firsts

March 2023

Last weekend, the Washington Post published a Schar-Post poll that confirmed that most people view our rail service as "excellent" or "good." Equally important, our customers view our service as safe.

But we have work ahead of us to attract more customers to rail and bus services.  As we continue to increase service levels, we also need to improve customer experience, training, ensure all voices are heard, and new models of community and employee engagement are accessible for all.

Moreover, Metro's strategic transformation plan, Your Metro, the Way Forward, includes objectives for improving service excellence, talented teams, regional opportunity, partnership and sustainability.  To continue delivering more and better service for bus, rail and paratransit customers, a new organizational alignment was announced that includes innovative changes for Metro.

Three executives are joining our senior team - holding new first-time positions - that I believe will help us achieve these objectives and deliver on our strategic plan goals. The three positions are Chief Experience and Engagement Officer; Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer; and the head of our new Metro Integrated Control and Communications Center (MICC).

Metro's first Chief Customer Experience and Engagement Officer is Sarah Meyer.  Sarah held a similar position at Metropolitan Transit Authority NY where she led a team to modernize service information, develop websites, apps, and maps, improve signage, and reduce customer pain points throughout their journey.

At Metro, Sarah will focus on improving the delivery of timely and accurate information to customers at every touchpoint, through signage, search results, apps, and digital wallets.  She will also work to help make the system simpler to plan and pay for trips, to find buses or trains, and by reassuring customers that they are being taken care of by an outstanding, customer-centric workforce.  Sarah will work with our senior team to develop materials and engage employees on new models of working and engaging with the public, all with an eye of making Metro as customer friendly as we can be.  I look forward to her challenging us to do better for our customers every day.

Our new Chief DEI Officer, Darlene Slaughter, is also the first to hold the title at Metro. Darlene has held the position of Chief Diversity Officer at Fannie Mae, United Way Worldwide, and the March of Dimes. She has experience in building a sense of belonging within inclusive work cultures, creating safe spaces, and building leadership capabilities by raising awareness, education, and advising the workforce on the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Darlene's job is a big one, both internal and external - to deliver on our talented teams' goal through supporting inclusive recruiting, hiring and promotion of our workforce, as well as to ensure we have an inclusive lens for our supplier diversity practices to ensure we are getting the best value for our customers, funders, and community.

In recent months we have filled about 400 critical vacancies - mostly among our frontline employees.  Darlene will partner with Sarah and other senior leaders to ensure that we continue to strengthen our workforce as well as customer experience, including job and service information and engagement opportunities that are accessible to all.

Key to Metro's success in improving every customer's journey on bus and rail trips is the new Metro Integrated Control and Communications Center.  The MICC will, for the first time, enable bus, rail, police, video, power, escalator/elevator, and maintenance operations to communicate and coordinate the transit network in real time in a single location. Roy Aguilera, a forty-year veteran of San Francisco's BART system, is joining Metro as Senior Vice President and head of our MICC. Roy is a respected operations executive in our industry and will bring best practices to Metro as we further our efforts to meet world-class standards. Roy has a deep understanding of the challenges faced in transit operations, having worked his way up from rail traffic controller.

This region's continued support for Metro and recognition of our importance is helping us build one of the strongest teams in the industry. I look forward to introducing these executives to the public at our Meet the Team events in stations, at our Board Meetings, and other engagements this spring.  Please let them (and me) know how we can better meet your transit needs, improve information, and help win new customers.

And, if you know of great candidates who are interested, we have posted another first - Vice President of Systemwide Accessibility. This new role will work within the Safety and Readiness organization, tasked with expanding and supporting the accessibility of our service. The job includes leading centralized efforts within the existing accessibility workstreams and will develop an expanded accessibility strategy for the agency. They will serve as the strategic lead with regard to accessibility authorities, and the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Like the other positions, the Accessibility job will rely on a matrix approach, working across departments to reduce silos and improve customer-centric decision making for a more seamless ride on Metro.


Randy Clarke
Randy Clarke
General Manager/Chief Executive Officer