On Nov. 14, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Operations Committee recommended the interiors of the 6000 Series rail cars be modified to improve passenger flow, access to handrails and signage visibility.
"We value the opinions of our customers and these recommended design features respond to their requests to improve upon the convenience of our Metrorail cars," said Lem Proctor, chief operating officer for WMATA’s rail system, in a prepared statement.
Most of the changes involve position and length of handrails. Dual overhead rails will replace single longitudinal ones to improve destination sign visibility. Seat-back to ceiling handholds and wall-mounted vertical and horizontal grab rails will replace floor-to-ceiling stanchions to provide a clear path when entering and exiting rail cars. And total usable overhead handrail length will be extended 44 percent from 140 linear feet to 201 linear feet.
Two destination signs will be added to the center of each rail car; Series 5000 cars have only one at each car end.
The remainder of the changes are designed to enhance passenger accessibility. A second wheelchair position will be added with hand rails to each car and wheelchair-accessible areas will be moved to the center of the cars. Windscreens near doors will be eliminated to ease access for patrons in wheelchairs and with bicycles.
Finally, interior seat layouts will be altered, which officials believe will help expedite passenger loading and unloading.
None of the changes will impact the cost (about $2 million each) of the 62 cars. Officials expect the cars to enter service in mid-2005 for use on the Blue Line extension to Largo Town Center, and for service growth.
WMATA also has an option to order an additional 120 cars from manufacturer Alstom Transport Inc. at about $1.55 million each. If ordered, those cars would be slated for use on the Orange Line extension to Tysons Corners, as well as accommodating projected service growth.