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Mass transit : many management successes at WMATA, but capital planning could be enhanced
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    NTL-PLANNING AND POLICY-Transit Planning and Policy
  • Abstract:
    In recent years, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) public transit system has experienced problems related to the safety and reliability of its transit services, including equipment breakdowns, delays in scheduled service, unprecedented crowding on trains, and some accidents and tunnel fires. At the same time, WMATA's ridership is at an all-time high and WMATA managers expect the number of passengers to double over the next 25 years. The General Accounting Office (GAO) was asked to address the following questions regarding WMATA: (1) What challenges does WMATA face in operating and maintaining its Metrorail system? (2) What efforts has WMATA made to establish and monitor safety and security within its transit system? (3) To what extent does WMATA follow established best practices in planning, selecting, and budgeting for its capital investments? Briefly, in operating its Metrorail system, WMATA is addressing significant challenges brought about by the agency's aging equipment and infrastructure and its ever-increasing ridership. WMATA is also examining ways to ease crowding on the system's rail cars and determining whether and how to expand Metrorail's maintenance and repair shop capacity as WMATA acquires nearly 200 new rail cars to help meet increasing ridership demands. WMATA has undertaken actions to address each of these challenges, including establishing a comprehensive program for infrastructure renewal, purchasing additional rail cars to ease overcrowding on its trains, and assessing future needs for expanded repair shop capacity. WMATA has also established programs to identify, evaluate, and minimize safety and security risks throughout its rail and bus systems. WMATA's safety program has evolved since the mid-1990's. Since then, WMATA has updated its safety and security plans and upgraded its internal safety organization. It monitors safety and crime statistics and has a number of ongoing targeted efforts to reduce safety incidents and deter specific types of crime on its transit systems.

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