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Maxwell X Lab

Project Report

Performance Metrics for WMATA Incident Management

August 2022

Project Description

  • Partners: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
  • Method: Literature review, case study development, and expert testimonial
  • Outcome: Preparedness through training and designation of operations personnel is key to building and maintaining a high-quality incident management system.

Project Report

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) contracted with the Maxwell X Lab to generate an incident management framework, created to implement clear and simple incident management procedures to ensure prompt service restoration, accountability to the public, and adherence to current rules and regulations. Maxwell X Lab conducted a comprehensive literature review and developed case studies for WMATA regarding incident management performance metrics in public transportation agencies. These case studies included New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority, Transport for London, and Queensland Rail/Translink. Metrics were used for evaluating performance, internal system changes, and publicly available data. Despite having differing definitions of an ‘incident in public transportation’, agencies successfully utilized metrics for performance improvements with varying levels of complexity. Collaborative research partnerships were suggested to enhance analysis, improve outcome aggregation, and provide fresh perspectives.

The Maxwell X Lab was tasked with gathering information about performance metrics that measured an incident’s quality of response. Interviews with several military officers, the executive director of an airport, and the emergency manager for a transportation department were conducted. Findings revealed that standardized metrics were used in training but not for real incidents. Moreover, organizations adjusted metrics based on real-life experience by holding debriefs after incidents. Thus, a consistent set of metrics was not used across groups. Passenger and employee feedback surveys also provided self-assessments which allowed organizations to address problems before becoming unmanageable. 

Maxwell X Lab
426 Eggers Hall