In a move that sadly surprises no one, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority refuses to release the findings from an undercover rider program assessing the transit system.
Since February 2012, the WMATA spent $252,000 in commuters’ fares and taxpayer dollars to fund a mystery rider program that systematically evaluates the agency’s customer service on buses and trains. In all, Metro intends to spend a total of $679,000 funding a three-year study, after scrapping a similar and cheaper program for “budget reasons.”
In 2009, a similar survey reported that Metro sales clerks provided incorrect information 25 percent of the time and provided “good customer service” just half of the time surveyed. Trains earned equally dismal ratings, scoring just 60 percent on cleanliness. The 2009 study was the first of a five-year study costing $916,000; WMATA dropped the contract after 2009 due to budget concerns.
WMATA denied a public records request The Washington Examiner made in June for the findings of the 2012 program. Even though the agency usually releases public records, WMATA stated that they are withholding the reports because they contain proprietary and confidential information.
Whether the information is truly proprietary or WMATA is simply delaying another round of poor reviews, the public has a right to know how WMATA spent $250,000 over the course of the last seven months, and more importantly, the improvements D.C. can expect in the future.