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GM: Metro 'overhauls' escalators to 'get the system back'

Wednesday - 9/21/2011, 11:33am  ET

'As a rider every day, I experienced for about a year and a half at Gallery Place escalators out of service.' (WTOP/Paul D. Shinkman)

Ask Metro

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles speaks to WTOP's Mark Segraves and Adam Tuss


WASHINGTON -- Metro's Richard Sarles was a guest Wednesday on WTOP's "Ask Metro" program.

The general managed talked about the future of escalator closures, some of which will be shut down for up to a year while Metro staff performs planned services.

He also discussed safety on board Metro trains and buses, which came to the public attention recently when a driver shoved a rider off a bus.

In case you missed it, check out this live blog about Metro funding, city evacuations and more:

10:57 a.m., speaking about renaming Metro stations:

People are very imaginative. One of the key things is if you want the station name changed, you have to spend the money. It costs about $100,000. I haven't heard from anyone about that yet.

10:55 a.m., speaking about alternating trains on the Red Line that end at Grosvenor and Shady Grove:

It gets to maximize the utilization of the trains that carry passengers. The heavy load is in the center of the system, which is why we turn back every other train to the center of the system.

10:54 a.m., speaking about the future of smart cards:

We're in the proposal stage from potential contractors for a new open payment system. We've been piloting a program to increase card value on the internet. We're ready to go live with that.

10:54 a.m., speaking about the budget:

We were able to stabilize the budget last year with no fare increases. We'll see what happens next year.

10:53 a.m., speaking about bag checks:

We do scan bags on a random basis, and we plan to continue doing that in the future.

10:52 a.m., speaking about needing more police officers:

We police with as many as we can afford to put out there.

10:47 a.m., speaking about violent or rude riders on Metro Access buses:

We want our customers to be courteous to our employees, and vice versa. We have to deal with that as best we can without ramping up the situation.

10:44 a.m., speaking about trains' manual versus automatic safety mode:

We're not going to return to automatic train operation until we're sure we've made all the improvements we need to make.

Our operators have become a lot more skilled at it, to avoid the "herky jerky" train operation some riders have complained about.

10:42 a.m. Outside the peak hours, we've been single tracking. It's the oldest line, the busiest line, and you're going to see delays as we do these planned maintenance activities.

The Red Line has improved over the last several months.

10:41 a.m. I'm not aware of that as an issue.

10:36 a.m., speaking about the recent video of a driver, no longer with Metro, throwing a customer off the bus:

"We don't want to see a bus driver or any employee dealing with a customer in that fashion."

We review all the facts of the situation, and unless there's self defense involved, we don't want to see that. A police officer could be summoned.

I'm trying to change the image of the bus, through replacing the buses themselves and creating greater access.

10:35 a.m., speaking about fights on Metro buses:

Our crime rate on buses is very low. We work with the schools, especially during the school year, to know when issues may be arising and we assign police based on that.

We have a weekly police meeting to see what may be going on on buses or in parking lots, and assign officers accordingly.

10:34 a.m., speaking about dirty and stained cloth seats on buses:

We'll take a look at that. We try to keep them clean. If someone has abused the seat, send a note in to us with the bus number.

10:33 a.m., speaking about recycling at Metro stations:

I have no problem putting my newspaper in the recycling bin as I exit the station.

10:32 a.m., speaking about the loudspeaker announcements for the next stop, some of which one listener calls 'inaudible':

It varies in uniformity due to the different series of cars we have. In the 7000 series, the train announcements will have much greater clarity, as those trains come online in the next couple years.

10:27 a.m., speaking about state of emergency:

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