It’s definitely in steady decline - I rode the Orange Line from New Carrolton to Ballston for a year, hated it - 50% of cars with broken AC in the summer (A Washington Post columnist measured 100 degrees in one - you had to immediately see if you got a blast of cold air when the door opened, and then if you didn’t try to run to another car.)
Doors didn’t open at my stop once, had to go to the next stop and come back.
I then drove for a year, hated that, and then I just moved to Ballston living in the same block as my job.
I basically will not take it at all anymore - not even to go downtown on weekends, because the trains are 19 minutes apart and I can’t stand waiting that long.
Some of the newer designs going back ten years was considering making the HVAC moduler. When something failed you simply removed the entire module from the roof and loaded another one. That would have provided much better turnaround. You could use different levels of technician support to do different aspects of the work. R&R would be simpler than troubleshooting and actual repair.
Door mechanisms are probably the weakest link in designing a reliable car. Those get cycled a lot. Metro mgt screwed up so bad they didn’t get an English copy of the software. IIRC the code was in Italian. When they tried to do some of the work themselves, they got a big surprise.
High level mgt is entirely at the mercy of the worker bees. You don’t buy cars often enough to build any real expertise. Simply knowing what didn’t work before often isn’t enough.
I’ve seen incidents where the company and the authority’s QA inspectors bought off on a car and OKed shipment. When it arrived, the receiving inspection then found lots of issues.
For a company that sources worldwide you can get some interesting results. In one incident just one of a car’s lift attachments broke at the weld to the body resulting in a nearly finished car being demolished when it fell to the shop floor while it was being moved between work stations.