RD652 - 2020 Report on the Performance and Condition of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority – December 2020
In its 2020 Report on the Performance and Condition of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) continues to press WMATA to encourage riders to return to the system, align service to demand and work closely with our Northern Virginia transit operators to improve the efficiency of the bus transit network, all through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic and the systemic challenges that will linger in the years ahead. The report also presents the last annual set of performance and condition data prior to the stay at home orders issued in the region and travel changes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
NVTC’s Strategies for WMATA to Reduce Costs and Become More Efficient
The General Assembly requires NVTC to recommend potential strategies to WMATA to reduce the growth in operating costs and to improve the efficiency of operations. NVTC’s 2020 Annual Report on WMATA includes recommended strategies for WMATA to become more financially sustainable and a more effective transit system and mobility provider by rebuilding ridership. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, WMATA made significant progress in implementing several of NVTC’s past recommendations and had seen promising signs that improvements in system reliability were rebuilding customer confidence and that rail and bus ridership were not just stable but increasing.
This year’s report consolidates and restructures NVTC’s recommendations around key priorities to improve efficiency and reduce costs, making these recommendations even more important as WMATA and the region recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NVTC’s 2020 recommendations to WMATA:
• Communicate and encourage a safe return to transit by highlighting and promoting enhanced safety efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and developing a long-term, post-pandemic marketing and communications strategy to rebuild ridership.
• Adapt rail service to meet changing demands during the COVID-19 pandemic and the region’s subsequent recovery period while maintaining an equitable, baseline level of service across all Metrorail lines.
• Leverage regional expertise to improve Northern Virginia’s bus network by working with local and state partners to improve the efficiency of the bus network, support implementation of bus priority projects, improve bus speeds and optimize transit networks.
• Continue focus on ongoing initiatives to reduce the growth in operating costs and improve operational efficiencies using NVTC’s previously recommended strategies in past annual reports on the performance and condition of WMATA.