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Prioritize high-visibility repairs
Oct 16, 2012 Kevin F7 Reviewed
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Avid readers of Metro websites and track work posters know that WMATA is working hard to refurbish track and rail switches, install bike racks at suburban stations, and work through its massive maintenance backlog.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of riders look up every day at the collapsed downstairs ceilings of Metro Center and L'Enfant Plaza, stare blankly at filthy, dimly-lit walls while waiting for trains, and hold their ears as that one train with the squealing brakes parades through every station on the Blue line. Most riders experience one or two of these every day, and conclude that the system is still in deplorable shape.

Fixing the most visible problems first would quickly improve the experience of the majority of Metro customers. Even a single technician assigned to pick the low-hanging fruit (change light bulbs, repair speakers, etc.) could create welcome signs of progress all over the system. This would help sustain public support of WMATA and Metro Forward while the more difficult repairs take place.

This idea would be improved by a phone app for customers to easily report problems with stations, trains, and buses (see the "Smartphone App" idea). That would help Metro quickly identify the most visible problems in the system, and direct its limited resources to fix them.

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