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In a release, Metro says it plans to limit membership to the site to 5,000 Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroAccess riders during the “first phase.” Signing up involves answering a number of basic questions, like providing a full name, zip code, and explanation of ridership habits. (When I signed up, Metro also required me to pick “female” or “male” before moving on—not great for gender nonconforming people.)
Once accepted, a participant has access to a website that features Amplify’s inaugural poll question: “How much do you think WMATA cares about your day-to-day experiences riding the bus and rail systems?”
According to Amplify’s terms of service agreement, “panel members” are expected to participate in at least one survey every three months, and will “typically [be] invited to participate in 1 to 4 surveys per month, although we do not guarantee any minimum number of surveys.” The TOS states that an account can be terminated if a survey is not completed for more than three months.
Although there’s no compensation involved, the TOS states that participating riders may be eligible for “Metro merchandise, discounts at select stores, and Smartrip benefits”; they may also be entered into sweepstakes. But perhaps most intriguingly, participants may be provided “with information that is not known to the general public.”
“Such information will be considered confidential and you will be asked not to share or use the information in any way other than as set out for Panel purposes,” the TOS states. “Disclosure of such confidential information will lead to immediate termination.” Participants may also be terminated if they “speak on Metro’s behalf.”
Participants will also receive a monthly newsletter from Metro’s Board of Directors, which will also be published in Express. Here’s the October message attributed to the board:
Metro’s Board of Directors is bringing a new level of oversight to rail and bus service. We want riders to know that we are acutely aware of the concerns you have about Metro safety and reliability. We also want to share the work we are doing to put the agency’s house in order and provide new leadership.
So where do we start? We start with safety.
Over the past year, the Board has been reconstituted with new representatives appointed from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and the federal government. The new Board’s dedication to improving safety cannot be overstated. In recent months, Metro has undergone rigorous safety inspections by both the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). We will ensure every recommendation from these outside safety audits is addressed and that investments are being made to accelerate improvements in key areas.
On the business side, the Board has worked to ensure that new management, new processes, and new financial controls are in place to make Metro’s accounting more accurate and transparent. And we have commissioned a top-to-bottom effi ciency study to serve as a blueprint going forward. Perhaps the most visible catalyst for change will be the hiring of a new General Manager. This summer we cast a wider net to move our search beyond the transit sector, and our goal is to select a new executive this year.
We never lose sight of what’s important to our customers, and that’s the service you depend on every day. The Board approved a budget this year that included more new rail cars to replace the unreliable equipment with rail cars that provide signifi cant improvements in safety, reliability and comfort for your daily commute, while supporting Red Line growth and future ridership.
Now, we want to hear from you about how to improve your ride every day. When you see us riding in the system or out in the community, please let us know about your experience. We’re listening.