Most of us work in jobs where our performance matters. Every year, your boss sits you down and tells you what you did right or wrong, and if you’re good, the rights outnumber the wrongs and you get a raise. For some, the raise doesn’t come, and for others, you get fired. Companies like to pay based on performance because it motivates people.
If you go to a nice restaurant, and you order your meal, and as they’re bringing everyone else’s food out, they explain to you that they screwed up your order. Maybe they dropped it on the floor, maybe they realized they sold the last rabbit too late for your order, or maybe the waiter forgot to enter it. No matter, really. They usually apologize and, more often than not, they will take the hit and not charge you for your meal. Better restaurants go a little further and offer you a discount on your next visit, or a free dessert.
Both situations have one thing in common: the income is related to the performance. You get paid more if you do well. You have to lose money in order to correct a mistake. I think Metro could learn a thing or two in the realm of customer service and performance.
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’
So how would a “performance-based fare” work? In London, you get a free ride if your trip is delayed by more than 15 minutes. Let’s make that the base and work from there.
If any escalator is broken on your path, Metro should deduct ten cents from your fare. If two or more escalators are down, that’s another ten cents, and the maximum.
If an elevator is broken on your path, but it doesn’t impact your ability to use that station, Metro should deduct five cents.
If an elevator is broken on your path and it impacts your trip (in other words, if you have to use an elevator and it being broken means you have to go out of your way to get to another elevator, or if you have to go to another station), Metro should deduct half your fare.
If your train is offloaded, you trip is free. This will create an incentive for Metro to only off load a single car if the doors won’t close, as opposed to the whole train.
If your train is delayed by more than three minutes, you should get a five cent deduction for every three minutes it is delayed. If your train is delayed by more than 15 minutes, your fare is free.
If your bus is delayed by more than five minutes, you should get a five cent deduction for every five minutes it is delayed. If your bus is delayed by more than 20 minutes, your fare is halved. If the delay is cause not by traffic, but by something that is under Metro’s control, your ride is free.
How would Metro do this? Well, first, it would be available only to people with SmarTrip cards. Not that it isn’t possible to do this in real time, just highly unlikely, and it’s another incentive for locals to get a SmarTrip card already.
Second, Metro has all the details, possibly even down to the minute, of when an escalator, elevator, train, or bus failed. Every evening, or possibly every weekend or end of the month, Metro should go back and plot the routes that people take, cross reference that with the various outage reports, and automatically adjust the fares. The next time you enter or exit a station, your SmarTrip card will be updated, and the website will always show the current value.
Some of you might be thinking that Metro can’t afford this, and you’d be right. I still think Metro needs something of this sort (perhaps only the 15 minute delay) in order to make passengers feel like someone understands there is a problem, and, while the five cents won’t fix it, it does acknowledge it. And it’s a damn sight more believable than another recorded “we apologize for any inconvenience” message.
Metro could take the accountability further: have the refunds come from the budgets of the appropriate groups. This probably won’t work well in the beginning as the system is being rebuilt, but it should be a consideration going forward.
If the CEO title for the GM is meant to show a commitment to “the buck stops here” corporate thinking, I think corporate practices for performance should spread within the agency.