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Metro Rolls Out New Train

On the way home this afternoon, some of you may be riding on the first six-car train composed completely of the new 6000 series cars. Those are the ones that were modified to create more space and draw passengers toward the center of the car, rather than clustering around the front and rear doors.

Tangherlini.jpg Tangherlini, at left, discusses new design with reporters. (Robert Thomson)

This new six-car train left Greenbelt Station late this morning on its inaugural run to Branch Avenue on the Green Line. Interim General Manager Dan Tangherlini and Yellow/Green Line Manager Rita Davis were among those along for the ride.

Some readers -- especially shorter people and older people -- have expressed concerns about whether the new design, with more poles in the middle of the car but fewer near the doors, will accommodate their needs. They're concerned that as a crowded train slows, and maybe lurches, they'll be thrown off balance because they won't be able to get a grip the way they used to.

I'm concerned for those folks, too, and will be watching for trouble. Today's off-peak ride went smoothly, and I was encouraged to see that riders were able to find grips and move on and off smoothly. I asked riders if they could tell what was different. Some got it right away. "Space," one young man said. Others had to look around for a moment, but they got it, too, without prompting.

space.jpg More space, fewer poles at end of new 6000 series car. (Robert Thomson)

Davis says that she's watched passengers on some of the other 6000 cars that were in service last week (this was the first all-6000 train, but not the first cars in service). She thinks riders are generally pretty smart, and they check out the new design and adapt. That includes older passengers, whom she refers to as "my 10 to 2 crowd," for their sensible decision to ride at off peak hours.

I'd like to hear from people who ride the new cars, either here or by e-mail at drgridlock@washpost.com. (If you send an e-mail, please include your full name and your home community, because I may use some letters in an upcoming newspaper column.)

poles.jpg Notice the new horizontal bar near the car doors. (Robert Thomson)

This was my second look at the cars, and the first time I've seen them rolling. I'm hoping that those concerned about the design will find there are more poles and bars to get a hold of than they imagine now, and that they'll appreciate the extra space that the new design creates. But let me know what you think.

By Robert Thomson  |  October 3, 2006; 1:37 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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