The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority launched its Rush Hour Promise program Friday, a new initiative that will credit customers for delays of 15 minutes or more.
Just three days into the program, Metro is set to credit a total of 2,262 customers — or about 0.1 percent of its daily 200,000 riders — for delayed trips. Around 90 percent of riders reach their destinations on time, according to an April WMATA news release.
The Rush Hour Promise concludes the Railcar Get Well plan, which was meant to reduce passenger offloads and delays by the end of 2017, and was also part of Metro’s “Back2Good” campaign, which aims to improve the Metro system’s all-around quality, from safety to reliability.
The Rush Hour Promise comes after over a year of improvements on the Metrorail system. In June 2016, WMATA launched its SafeTrack program to repair parts of the ailing Metrorail system and increase safety and reliability.
In addition to repairing tracks, Metro is retiring older 5000-series train cars and replacing them with newer 7000-series cars. In a news release, WMATA said its maintenance programs, new trains and improved infrastructure are contributing to fewer delays.
“The service guarantee comes at a time of improved reliability, demonstrating Metro’s progress getting ‘back to good,’” according to a Jan. 25 news release.
Despite a derailment on the Red line in January, Metro expressed confidence in its ability to deliver safe and reliable service.
“Our #back2good initiative promised to deliver a fleet of new trains and improve reliability in 2017. Based on our progress, we’re making another promise in 2018 – the Rush Hour Promise. So along with being more reliable, #wmata is more accountable,” WMATA wrote in a Jan. 29 tweet.
The refunds only apply to trips during rush hour service, or from 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Metro SmarTrip cardholders will automatically receive credit for delayed MetroRail trips while MetroBus customers must request credit through an online form. Customers can only receive four credits per calendar month through the Rush Hour Promise.
The Rush Hour Promise does not apply to delays caused by weather, extraordinary circumstances like security emergencies or blackouts or repair work that the customer is notified of in advance. It does not apply to U-Pass or Kids Ride Free Passes. SelectPass, One Day and Seven Day passes will receive a $3 credit for MetroRail delays and $1 credit for MetroBus delays.
Metro is using a program called MyTripTime to measure the duration of customers’ trips, taking into account the times of getting to the train, waiting on the platform, transfers and the walk to the exit in its estimate.
Metro estimates that 0.3 percent of trips will qualify for credits and that the Rush Hour Promise will cost between $2 million and $3.5 million per year, according to The Washington Post.
WMATA CEO Paul Wiedefeld said that the Rush Hour Promise expresses WMATA’s commitment to improved service, according to the Jan. 25 news release.
“Rush Hour Promise is our commitment to riders that we are accountable for providing reliable, on-time service,” Wiedefeld said at a Jan. 25 news conference. “We want our customers to know that we value their time, and we’re going to do everything we can to keep them moving safely and efficiently.”