Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

WMATA keeps growing, Metro keeps slowing

January 23, 2012 - 04:00 PM
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Metro wants more escalator workers. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

Tuesday may be our president's State of the Union address but what about the State of Metro?

Big events loom — in the next week or so, WMATA will close the southern entrance to the Dupont Circle Metro in order to replace escalators; Metro has announced it will replace more escalators now rather than simply rehab them, which should be both more timely and costly; and to accomplish all these tasks, WMATA has announced it's hiring more people.

A quick look at the LinkedIn job-oriented social network confirms that WMATA has already begun to expand their team.

Yesterday WMATA announced plans to hire an elevator and escalator engineer. On Jan. 20, WMATA posted a position for an escalator/elevator tech and supervisor as well as, perhaps most vitally, an elevator/escalator position which would involve "highly skilled and technical maintenance coordination work involving auditing of preventive and corrective maintenance on escalators and elevators in support of the entire Metrorail system." Four new elevator/escalator positions were posted in less than a week, and I can understand why. WMATA plans to replace more than 90 escalators now, and you can just imagine the closures and delays that will result. In next year's budget, WMATA says its preventative maintenance and improvements will come to a bill of around $66 million. Why wouldn't the transit agency be beefing up its escalator teams? The hiring makes sense.

Meanwhile, Metro riders expressed more than a little annoyance at Metro's train schedule this morning. Federal employees were granted a late start of 11 a.m. thanks to rumored icy conditions, so Metro promised to extend its rush hour. Multiple reports suggest this was not the case, however, as you can see in one of multiple Twitter round-ups. The dissatisfaction doesn't bode well given broader trends. Recent months have also revealed that fewer people are riding and that Metro fares are going to rise.

Perhaps all these new WMATA employees will help alleviate the commuter frustration? Given the emotion that some D.C. residents show online, I'm not convinced that any uptick in service could satisfy them, but hopefully. We already know via the Post that WMATA's communications staff will continue to grow this spring.

One interesting sidenote: I'd recommend checking out WMATA's profile on LinkedIn. Apparently 1,043 Metro employees belong and publicly pledge allegiance to WMATA on the professional networking site. Of those thousand, 64% work in "general and administrative" positions, 29% in "research and development," 5% in "sales and marketing," and a mere 1% in the category of "executive leadership." They're also an older bunch, with more than half laying claim to 15-20 years of experience, and attended local colleges, with the most popular academic institutions being University of Maryland-College Park, George Mason, GWU, and Howard. The LinkedIn Metro crowd is rather educated — 51% possess a bachelor's degree, and then another 35% lay claim to a Master's degree. Not too shabby. That said, Metro has about 11,000 employees and those workers who belong to LinkedIn are likely the more professional, ambitious elite of the Metro staff. These LinkedIn Metro employees represent under a tenth of the total WMATA workforce.

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