‘Wrench time’ ratchets up: Metro workers more productive, GM says

In this photo taken July 25, 2016, Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld walks along a track that's been closed for maintenance while an orange line train rolls along the other track in northern Virginia. Wiedefeld ordered a 9-month maintenance blitz that requires trains in both directions to share a single track for weeks at a time, disrupting commuters, because he believes it's the only way Metro can catch up on critical maintenance. (AP Photo/Ben Nuckols)

DULLES, Va. — Metro workers have been much more productive over the past year than in the recent past, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said, according to an internal report due to be released next week.

“Our what we call ‘wrench time’, the amount of time that people are out on the system working, has increased. Our productivity has gone up 34 percent,” Wiedefeld said at a Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce event Thursday.

The significant increase is attributed to fewer delays in granting track access to workers, more round-the-clock work zones, cutbacks in rail service hours and allowing certain work to finish even if it spills into the first hour or two that the system is open.

“We’re paying those people to be out there and do work,” Wiedefeld said. “And just through different efficiencies, by tightening that up we’ve increased literally the amount of work they’re delivering.”

The report next week is meant to justify the hours cutbacks Metro implemented last year as well as explain some of the specific work that has been done along with the track testing and inspection programs that are just getting underway.

“Before, we had so much time lost because we didn’t have enough window of a time to put people out there doing work, so now, with those additional hours, we’re physically getting more time out on the tracks which means much more productivity out of the same amount of people,” Wiedefeld said after the event ended.

He has also credited a crackdown on workers taking time off.

Last week, Wiedefeld said surveys found rail customer satisfaction increased to 76 percent.

Metro last met its rail customer satisfaction goal of 85 percent in 2013.

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