One of Metro’s core values is to try to continuously improve. In that vein, the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released an audit of Metro Rail service disruptions in 2016 to help better identify and reduce the root causes of rail delays. The OIG is an independent part of Metro that reports directly to the Metro Board. Its purpose, simply put, is to make Metro more efficient and effective.
The audit is posted above; a pdf version for download is here.
The key statistic from the audit: there were 2,585 service disruptions involving Metro Rail last year. Of those, 441 delays involved service interruptions for health reasons (i.e. sick passengers) or policing issues and the remaining 2,144 disruptions mostly involved problems with equipment and, to a lesser extent, staffing shortages (see the chart at right). Of Metro’s five rail lines, the Blue Line had the most incidents with 689. The Blue Line is Metro’s oldest rail line and opened in July 1990.
The audit contains both criticism and praise for Metro. First the praise: the agency was credited for its renewed focus on its State of Good Repair program. On the other hand, the audit questioned whether the $4.8 billion for State of Good Repair that Metro will spend over the next decade is enough. The audit also found that Metro needs to better identify the root causes of service problems to ensure they get fixed.
The audit specified 57 improvements that needed to be made and concluded with these words:
While expansion of the system is critical, it cannot take place at the expense of maintaining the existing system. Setting this balance, however, requires a firmer understanding of the condition of the core infrastructure. Expediting the work currently underway will position Metro to better make these tradeoffs.
I encourage you to read the audit. I also want to add some perspective: Metro Rail runs 20 to 22 hours a day, 365 days a year. Most (but certainly not all) of the service disruptions that we see are minor in terms of actual delay to passengers, although undoubtedly annoying to riders who are impacted — which sometimes includes yours truly. The average maximum delay in 2016 due to rail service disruptions was about 20 minutes, according to the audit. Overall, trains have arrived on-time about 98 percent of the time over the last three years, according to Metro records.
It also worth noting that maintenance-wise, there is a lot happening on the Metro Rail system. New Kinkisharyo light rail cars continue to roll out on the Blue Line, which still has the oldest rail cars on our system with some still dating to 1990. Also part of the Better Blue Line program, a contract was awarded by Metro earlier this year for other necessary upgrades to the Blue Line, including signals, new switches and track improvements.
New subway rail cars for the Red/Purple Line have been ordered with delivery of the first cars expected in late 2020. A number of system upgrades will be made on the Green Line as part of the work to join that line with the Crenshaw/LAX Line tracks.
Metro’s Operations Department has reviewed the audit; some recommendations are already underway and others will be implemented. A significant portion of Metro’s State of Good Repair funding, by the way, will come from Measure M, the sales tax measure approved last year by Los Angeles County voters.
To learn more about Metro’s Office of Inspector General please see their home page, which includes previous audits. This audit will be presented to the Metro Board as part of their November round of meetings.
The best way to receive timely service alerts is to check out the metro.net homepage or follow Metro on Twitter. We also have a Twitter stream dedicated only to service alerts. We’ll also have more posts in the months ahead with videos and photos of important maintenance work that is ongoing on Metro’s bus and rail systems.