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Metro Tests New Flooring

I've been thinking about some new flooring for the kitchen, so I stopped by National Airport Station this morning to see if I could get some decorating ideas from the transit authority.

car%206026.jpg Dark rubber flooring in car 6026. (Thomson)

There was Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith holding a few floor tiles for review as she ushered reporters aboard three Metrorail test cars, each with a different type of surface under foot -- but none of them a carpet.

You may see these test cars roaming the system. Let me know what you think. Metro wants to know, too.

car%206027.jpg Gray rubber flooring in car 6027. (Thomson)

You'll see photos of the floors on this page, but you've really got to see them for yourself. Smell them, too. It's a radical change from the carpet styles -- musty old carpet styles, with colors not found in nature -- that have adorned Metro cars since 1976.

I kind of liked the style in the first photo. The flooring is rubber, colored black with gray and white flecks. That's in rail car No. 6026.

car%206014.jpg Harder quartz composite in car 6014. (Thomson)

But wait, there's more. You could also have the gray rubber, with black and white flecks, in car No. 6027.

Then there's a really different style in car No. 6014: "quartz aggregate agglomerated in an epoxy matrix." Gray, with white speckles.

In a way, this third one was the most interesting. It's the hardest, and Metro officials, reporters and curious riders waiting for another train all debated whether it was possible to slip on it, but no one did. It looked like it might get slick when wet -- one member of the Rider's Advisory Council was ready to test a bottle of water on it -- but the manufacturer says, no. Actually, the composition makes for good traction when wet.

carpet.jpg Carpet for comparison: It's discolored on the left, nearest the door. (Thomson)

The most radical thing, of course, is that Metro is looking to rip up the carpet. It's not only the appearance but also the cost and the effort of maintaining the carpet, which the transit authority says is vacuumed once a week, shampooed every two months and replaced every five years at a cost of $5,200 per carpet.

Any of these new floorings has a life expectancy of more than 25 years.

Metro is going to try out the new floors over the next six month, then select a style to use in some of the current and future cars.

By Robert Thomson  |  April 22, 2008; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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