For you regular ATR readers, you know that it is no secret I have a major problem with the DC Metro, WMATA. On May 5, 2009, I wrote in the DC Examiner in an article titled "Metro, employee union has unwanted exercise program for riders" that:

Metro website reported that fifty-three escalators, and six elevators, were experiencing problems and still await repair. Several of which, are not scheduled for maintenance until mid June to July.

Conditions did not improve despite a response op-ed by the WMATA union, they in fact began worse. The June 23 crash on the Red Line which left nine dead and 76 injured sparked an investigation into the internal efficiencies issues with WMATA. 

In a follow up article in the DC Examiner, appropriately titled "WMATA’s congestion mirrors internal problems", we showed that:

In 2005, Metro ignored the advice of an independent task force, which concluded that private-sector businesses would repair the escalators faster and at a lower cost than unionized government employees. Of course, WMATA continued business as usual

With all of the recent incidents and the staggering 60+ escalator outages today according to WMATA, I plan to submit the following questions to Gerald Francis, Deputy General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of WMATA, and urge you to submit your questions in the comment section below.

1. How many Metro stations have union contracts and how many are 100% contracted out to the private sector for repairs?

2. Will you provide all WMATA contacts and every non-payroll check WMATA writes online in a searchable format to increase transparency and accountability?

3. Will you provide all WMATA-union collective bargaining agreements online?

4. What is the average length of time between when a repair request for an escalator is submitted and the request is completed (not responded to with a work order, but when the repair is made)?

5. The "Stimulus" bill is scheduled to give WMATA $202 million. Will you provide a detailed account for what WMATA plans to use that money for?

6. How often does WMATA’s SmartBenefits system go down and if the user has money on their SmartBenefits plan but can’t access due to your system failure, why must they pay twice?

7. Please explain to me how you plan to fix the current inefficiency outlined below in the process of getting a new or replacement metro card:

– You must take your non-working card to Metro Center
– They give you a new card (apparently that is ALL they can do there)
– You have to then register your new card and wait 48 hours
– You then must switch the benefits and money from your old card to your new card
– Wait three to four days for the switch to occur
– Then cancel your old card
– And WMATA asks that you bring your old card back to Metro Center
My question is, why can’t this all occur at the Metro Center office in one visit?
8. Metro Chief Administrative Officer Emeka Moneme decided one of the major improvement plans funded by the "stimulus" is to upgrade the system of electronic screens in stations and on platforms that provide information about arriving trains, escalator outages and problems in the system. Rather than upgrading screens that tell riders about problems, shouldn’t you spend that money actually fixing the problems?
9. How much union dues does WMATA take from each workers pay check before they receive it?
10. What forward action is WMATA taking to address the 5,332 Metrorail complaints – most of which concern escalators, that have occured this fiscal year alone?