Abstract for:Metrorail: Getting on Track

Metrorail systems form the backbone of many large urban transportation systems, but despite their pervasiveness, many suffer from budgeting and operations problems. However, we are not aware of any general methodology that can be used to guide managers in framing and analyzing strategic and tactical issues that face such systems. †Utilizing Washington D.C.ís Metrorail (Metro) system, we use causal loop diagrams to depict the structural characteristics of the system, identify and analyze problem areas, and propose changes that can address the persistent problems in the system. As the only major U.S. transit system under federal oversight due to safety and maintenance concerns, Washington, D.C.ís beleaguered Metro system provides an excellent opportunity to apply system dynamics modeling to develop actionable recommendations for improvements to the system.† The D.C. Metro system demonstrates many issues seen in other urban metro rail systems as well as some exclusive to this system: a long and highly publicized history of substandard performance, diminishing ridership, a unique and complex governance structure comprised of state and federal members, and infrastructure and operations spanning three separate states. Despite large volumes of media coverage, there is scarce academic analysis of these issues, and even fewer models offered to guide management