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New railcars miss key opportunities

WMATA will soon order new 7000 series railcars. These will be the most advanced in the fleet when they arrive in 2013. However, they miss the chance to make several key improvements that could add capacity and speed boarding, including more doors and articulation.

NYC subway cars with 4 doors. Photo by gmpicket.

Doors limit boarding

With this addition to the fleet, Metro had the opportunity to rethink its railcars based on 30 years of experience. Crowding causes excessive dwell times at busy stations. Metro could significantly speed boarding and alighting by adding a fourth door-pair per side. More doors would also help spread crowding throughout the car.

Some other systems with cars of similar lengths have four doors per side. New York's B Division (lettered lines) uses cars with 4 doors per side. Some of Boston's Red line cars also have 4 doors on each side.

But Metro has chosen to keep 3 doors on each side of the car. This is a significant missed opportunity.

Articulation could add space

Continuous articulation in Berlin.
Another way to increase capacity and also improve circulation would be to use articulated railcars or cars without end bulkheads. These types of cars are becoming more and more popular, especially in Europe.

When Yonah Freemark, of The Transport Politic, asked Metro why they didn't consider articulated vehicles for the 7000-series, Metro spokesperson Lisa Farbstein responded: "We have not designed our cars that way. It's a choice we made when we started the system decades ago. No plans to change it just to change it."

But articulated vehicles add more standing room for passengers. That's not "just to change it." The system was designed in the 1970s with a cab on each end of married pairs, and WMATA changed that.

BART cars. Photo by Thomas Hawk.
Even including diaphragms between cars in a pair and allowing movement between those cars would be an improvement. San Francisco's BART has diaphragms and sliding doors between cars, and has had them since 1972.

Retain design element uniformity

Metro was designed with many motifs and unifying elements. That uniformity extends beyond the architecture of the stations. Even the railcars play their part. The color palate used on the current fleet is similar to the standard station architecture.

The brown stripe, which Metro is ditching for the 7000-series, is one of the major common colors systemwide. In terms of the station architecture, the stripe reflects the browns of the columns, signs, sides of escalators, and other elements. Additionally, it reflects many other aspects of the system, from faregates to station agent booths.

Photo by the author.
The reddish-orange platform tile is mirrored by the orange-brown or maroon carpet inside the railcars. The silver of the train exterior echoes the gray-white of the station vault. This is further reinforced by the backlighting from the platform edge lights, which helps evoke the indirect lighting of the train room.

And when a train is in the station, the red-orange floor, the brown stripe, and the gray-white walls play together to create a unified ensemble.

One of the drawbacks of the 7000-series railcars is their proposed departure from the Metro palate, especially the loss of the brown stripe. Not only will the cars not match the rest of the fleet, they'll be missing a major aesthetic design element of the system.

The 7000-series will make up a very large part of the railcar fleet once all the cars have arrived. Failing to make some of the changes now means that we will be stuck with certain inadequacies for decades to come. At the same time, a failure to consider the design elements standard across the system threatens the uniformity and quality of the experience - a major basis for the popularity and success of the system.

And that success has become a major hurdle. Dealing with the throngs of riders, especially in this funding climate, has become increasingly difficult for Metro. While the design of the 7000-series will allow for longitudinal seating, and more standing room, Metro's failure to consider other improvements is shortsighted.

What other opportunities are being missed by the 7000-series?

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer. 


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I'm with you on this one 100%. Not articulating the cars seems *especially* dumb, considering that the new trains will effectively consist of married quads.

Articulation also tends to make trains safer in the event of a derailment, as a tremendous amount of force is required to pull the cars apart, which prevents them from rolling off of the track bed.

Several years ago, a TGV derailed at 182mph when a sinkhole destroyed a section of track. Thanks to the stiff articulated design of the trainset, the train remained on the trackbed, and skidded to a halt. One minor injury was reported.

by andrew on Apr 29, 2010 10:46 am • linkreport

What about bike on rail improvements? Some transit systems (TriMet, Portland and Seattle light rails , etc) have installed verticle hooks and folding seats to keep bikes secure and out of the way of passengers.

by Eric on Apr 29, 2010 10:46 am • linkreport

I'm not sure I agree with you on the aesthetic points. I think when the system first opened they may have been necessary to draw riders. But I seriously doubt anyone has stopped riding because of the addition of (say) the red and blue seats to the new/refit cars. The orange and brown color scheme looks really dated now. I'm not that sad to see the brown stripe on the outside go (again, I think it looks dated), but I would like to see something on the outside. Perhaps they can take that gray at the front of the car and use that for stripes down the side.

by Steven Yates on Apr 29, 2010 10:57 am • linkreport

Time to dump Lisa Farbstein: she keeps mouthing these tone-deaf talking points as if we just accept what she says.

by SJE on Apr 29, 2010 10:57 am • linkreport

Agree with you on doors and articulation. I don't think the loss of brown stripes is a major issue (not an issue at all, actually). The orange carpet and seats are gone on the 5K, 6K and 2K, 3K rehabs, and it would be a stretch to say those changes were visually offensive.

by Matt on Apr 29, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

Articulation and 4 doors are both very necessary. I am really surprised that metro has not pushed this. Then again, both ideas are new thinking and could result in better customer service, so maybe I'm not surprised.

Brown striping, not so much. I understand your point, but since a large number of these trains will be servicing brand new stations, I think that the design will feel consistent.

by JTS on Apr 29, 2010 11:13 am • linkreport

@Steven Yates, @Matt:
Note, I never said anything about the palate of the seats. I have no objection to the red, blue, yellow colors of the 2ks, 3ks, 5ks, and 6ks. In fact, they strengthen the bond by connecting the vertical red-white-blue stripes on the cab end of each married pair.

And note, that I also included the new carpet in the post. "The reddish-orange platform tile is mirrored by the orange-brown or maroon carpet inside the railcars," I said.

Design elements and design uniformity don't mean that everything has to look exactly the same (otherwise, we'd use granite seats on the trains to match the benches on the platform), but getting rid of all the common elements is a mistake.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 29, 2010 11:13 am • linkreport

I'm all for losing the interior orange. I've felt that way since my first Metro ride in 1992. I was thinking, "Why orange? This is Our Nation's Capital!"

Personally, I can't ride in the hinge of an articulated vehicle. I learned that on the MBTA in Boston. I'm not prone to motion sickness, but standing right in the hinge makes me queasy for some reason. I don't know whether this is common.

by Greenbelt Gal on Apr 29, 2010 11:14 am • linkreport

Re: articulation
andrew said that articulation would help in the case of derailment by helping to hold the cars together, but what about the reverse? WMATA has already had to design cars to help prevent telescoping, would articulation cause a train set to be more catastrophically damaged in a collision?

by kidincredible on Apr 29, 2010 11:14 am • linkreport

On doors: NYC's cars do have 4 doors, but also remember that those cars are shorter than DC's, too - B Division cars are 60 feet long with 4 doors, Metro's are 75 feet long with 3.

As far as the design elements go, I also agree - I think there are ways to maintain the design legacy and language of the system without giving up the improvements Metro hopes to make - for example, I applaud the decision to get rid of carpeting, but I'd love to see a test of a similarly colored hard floor surface in some cars to maintain that visual uniformity of the system. The overall orange hue in the oldest cars is indeed a bit dated, but I certainly don't find the brown stripe to be dated at all.

Articulation is another head-scratcher.

by Alex B. on Apr 29, 2010 11:15 am • linkreport

Agree with everything. Every batch of "new" railcars has always been an incremental replica of the original ones, even though they're different manufacturers. They need to stop clinging and just start with a clean slate.

by spookiness on Apr 29, 2010 11:18 am • linkreport

Ehh, I don't know if I agree with you on the doors. In a way, more doors might encourage crowding. People shouldn't stand against the doors, so there has to be at least a tiny bit of empty space in front of them, space that's being wasted.

Plus, 16 more doors per 8-car train means 16 more opportunities for door malfunctions (32 if you count each door, not set of doors). Not good.

by Tim on Apr 29, 2010 11:21 am • linkreport

Are you also against 8-car trains? They include 12 more doors (than a 6-car train).

by Matt Johnson on Apr 29, 2010 11:22 am • linkreport

I don't care about the brown stripe, but I do wish they'd abandon the trapezoidal silhouette. It just looks so cheesy to me, reinforcing the 1960's vision of outer-space travel that seems to dominate Metro design. Either go with a more curved shape (like the London tube) or go with a more boxy shape (like the NYC subway). The curved shape would echo the station architecture, but the boxy shape would provide more headroom.

by Reid on Apr 29, 2010 11:26 am • linkreport


The trapezoid cross-section is not merely an aesthetic choice, it's a functional one. The idea was to make the cars narrower at the top, thus on banked curves in tunnels, the tunnel itself doesn't need to be wider - this would enable taking underground corners at higher speeds.

It's also funny that you mention London's rolling stock, as the design of those cars is similarly influenced by the operational requirements of the tunnels.

As far as the brown stripe goes, It's also worth noting that Harry Weese's original idea was to have all of the rail cars painted red. Operations folks rejected that idea as they didn't want to have to maintain the paint.

by Alex B. on Apr 29, 2010 11:36 am • linkreport

The train doors have essentially become hand-to-hand combat zones during rush hour. Adding more is just going to ratchet up the annoyance factor in each car. Each door is just going to attract two more riders to stand on each side with a gym bag between their feet while they text on their Crackberry and ignore the fact that they are in the way.

by Lou on Apr 29, 2010 11:38 am • linkreport

Presumably with past redesigns there was a maintenance logistics advantage to keeping things more or less the same. Fewer different parts to stock and so on, greater flexibility in reshuffling cars to meet changing needs. So that's the logic behind keeping the 2k-6k cars similar to the originals. It does seem that since the 7000s are *already* making a break with the previous cars, this is a great chance to look at the more fundamental design choices. Keeping three doors is particularly disappointing. Is this perhaps from fear of reduced seating annoying the more suburban customers? Downtown, reduced dwell times are more important than seating but suburbanites may see it differently.

by Distantantennas on Apr 29, 2010 11:38 am • linkreport

@Lou - Couldn't they fix that if they just got rid of the internal windscreens that people like to lean on? It seems their sole purpose is to keep down some of the wind on windy days during stops at outdoor stations. I can't think of any other purpose for them.

by Distantantennas on Apr 29, 2010 11:40 am • linkreport

Part of the reason people crowd near the doors is because it's hard to access the space on the interior of the car and then still make it back to the door when your stop comes. It's not that there's a huge bonus to standing by the door, but there's a big penalty for going to the middle of the car (unless you're going a long distance or you can get a seat).

If you had longitudinal seating, you'd not only increase the area for standing passengers, but also increase the flow so that the space between the seats is more useful. You can already see the improvement in riding a 6000 series (with much more space around the doors) compared to a 1000 series. If the whole car were seated that way, it would make a big difference.

by Alex B. on Apr 29, 2010 11:44 am • linkreport

I for one don't care either way about the brown stripe. But the lack of consideration for an extra set of doors is disappointing. If passengers crowd around doors, there would be then 4 sets of doors instead of 3, spreading out the crowd. And the path to exit from between doors would be shorter. That might encourage more people to move in since they don't have to fight so far to get out and would mean quicker loading and unloading at stops.

Articulation is too big of a concept for metro.

by Christine on Apr 29, 2010 11:45 am • linkreport

My understanding is that individual cars are permanently connected, so if one car is in need of repair, the entire train is out of service.

Does anyone know if WMATA has made any statement on whether articulation is feasible given the existing infrastructure?

by ML on Apr 29, 2010 11:59 am • linkreport

I don't mind only 3 doors per side. The entire problem with the crush of people typically comes from there not being enough room on the trains period. Like Lou said above, eliminate a place for people to stand/lean right by the door and move to longitudinal seating to make it easier for people to move about and access the doors.

Besides that, I will continue to hope and wish for articulated cars. I mean, in a sense, our cars are already articulated; teenagers chasing each other from car to car already do so. :-)

by Adam L on Apr 29, 2010 12:04 pm • linkreport

They need to consider that on the Silver Line, there will be lots of passengers heading to/coming from Dulles with large, bulky pieces of luggage. Perhaps one car on each Silver Line train in a consistent designated space (like the first train car, for example) could have seating that can be folded away to make room for large suitcases.

by Ron on Apr 29, 2010 12:21 pm • linkreport

That's not a bad idea. However, I would point out that all of the fleet's rolling stock will operate on the all of the lines.

That means that you will see 7000-series trains on the Silver Line and on the Red Line. And you'll see 2000- and 5000-series cars on the Silver Line as well.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 29, 2010 12:25 pm • linkreport

@Matt: No, 8-car trains do have more doors, but they carry more people too, which is an obvious advantage. In fact, an 8-car train has as many doors-per-person (and therefore door failure opportunities per person) as a 6-car train.

If you add more doors, you're increasing the ratio of doors per person, and therefore increasing the ratio of potential door failures per passenger carried.

by Tim on Apr 29, 2010 12:25 pm • linkreport

I'll second the request for bike storage. Riding with a bike is a real pain right now.

by jcm on Apr 29, 2010 12:32 pm • linkreport


No. This is a (mostly) separate issue relating to the rigidity of the ends of the cars, and the strength of the bond between the base of the car and its shell.

We've also only witnessed telescoping on end cars directly involved in a collision (one of which was a 3000-series car, which nobody seems to want to talk about).

Articulated cars could hypothetically decrease the chances for one of the inner cars to telescope, as the couplings between cars are a lot stiffer, however the merits of this claim are purely theoretical.

by andreww on Apr 29, 2010 12:32 pm • linkreport

I think one other reason people stand close to the doors is because thats where the grab poles are. The new cars need better/more grabbing poles. Poles are my preference to straps. Many people can use one pole. The above head straps seem useful for only half the riding population (because of height). But they're better then nothing and better then back of the seat grips which won't be avialbale anyway w/ longitudinal seating.

by Bianchi on Apr 29, 2010 12:35 pm • linkreport


I think your point that 'more doors = more opps for door manfunctions' is entirely valid, given the difficulty our system already has with door malfunctions and the idiots who insist on holding the doors open. Since we can't get rid of the idiots...

And Matt, no offense but I think your reply re: 8 car trains is a little flip. Of course longer trains wil have more doors - so what? They also have much higher capacity. Makes more sense to talk apples-to-apples, no?

More doors = more opps for door failure and more "wasted space" in front of the doors (fewer seats). So I think the door issue is far from a clear-cut, slam-dunk.

I do think the loss of the brown stripe is unfortunate, as is the lack of articulation. I've personally always hated the orange seats AND the moldy carpet, so I am glad to see them go. And addition of cloth to the seats is NOT an improvement - one will have to be very cautious about sitting in the accumulateed funk of thousands of Metro passengers!

by Glenn on Apr 29, 2010 12:46 pm • linkreport

About the stripe. As Matt says, it reflects the station, but it also changes the proportions of the cars to make them fit into the station and not overwhelm patrons or the stations.

But, I don't think it has to be brown or even a solid color. There is room to innovate.

by Neil Flanagan on Apr 29, 2010 12:57 pm • linkreport

I am not sure if others have posted similar responses to this but I will post none-the-less. The articulated cars and diaphrams are great future advancements for complete and full operating systems. Articulated units are unable to be reconfigured in yards into the 6 and 8 train configurations metro uses. This will pose huge issues come a time when possible service cuts or advancements will be made. By each car having independent capabilities, metro has greater flexibility with its fleet. The same argument can be made against the diaphragms throughout an entire system, but on a level such as every 2 cars being connected it could be feasible. Finally the four door idea would work but considering the way the interiors of the cars are set up, would the cars' end cap seating and standing areas need to be redesigned?

by Samuel on Apr 29, 2010 12:59 pm • linkreport

The disappearance of the brown stripes is a shame because it basically robs the entire existing 106-mile system of its design aesthetic. They're not going to rebuild the underground stations to match the aesthetic of bare steel. You'll also have mismatched cars riding the rails for a number of years.

Riding Metro is supposed to be an experience more than just just catching an ordinary subway. It's what made Metro unique. Brown and the gray concrete of the underground stations are neutral colors that go together well. The brown managed to add color and character to Washington without robbing it of its astute dignity. Now with bare steel, these trains might as well be running in Chicago or New York. It's really a shame, not from a rider standpoint perhaps, but from a cultural one. As corny as the catchphrase "America's subway" was, the coordinated design really was what set it apart from the rest of the nation's systems, an ideal to be lived up to. Now we're just content to copy everyone else.

Â… not that articulation wouldn't be a bad idea. It could, however, increase the noise level inside the cars. The insulated cabins are part of what make riding the system a pleasure compared to other subways in the world.

by Anonymous on Apr 29, 2010 1:01 pm • linkreport

I agree 100% with this post. If you're going to depart from the norm of metro, they should definitely do it in an innovative way that could include longitudinal seating, articulation, and additional doors, among other things. Why not push the limits of design? Try something new and design the system for the future rather than remaining stuck with the 1970's system parameters.

That being said, the one place I believe the design should be kept consistent with the rest of system is with car aesthetics and retaining design element uniformity. Like it or not, the brown strip is THE one unifying element in the system. Pretty much all notable metro systems in the world have universal design elements in their subway vehicles, like Paris and Moscow. Why should the DC metro, which represents us to the rest of the nation and the world, be any less than unique and magnificent? Sure, there are definitely reasons for eliminating carpeted floors, and even having longitudinal seating. However, the vision and appearance of class and grandeur that was evident in the system's creation seems hopelessly lost in the new 7000 series, with the excessive stainless steel, lack of brown striping, stale lighting, and blue wool seats. The DC metro is not the NY subway.

So, I for one would DEFINITELY hate to see the beloved DC metro look like every other stale and frequently dirty Metro system in the country, which is what this new design seems geared to. The Baltimore, Miami, and LA subways come to mind. The brown stripe, orange seats, and design motifs give the system character, a quality that has now also come to define the region for tourists and residents alike. For most regular users this might not matter in principle, but I see it as wearing a suit jacket with pajamas for a regular day (non-Halloween of course). It just looks weird and (like the 7000s with current metro stations) they dont go well together.

by LA on Apr 29, 2010 1:09 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure if anonymous @1:01's point still rings true. These issues were very important in the 60s and 70s, when the decision was between building a metro or building highways. The whole idea behind metro was to demonstrate it as a viable alternative to cars. These aesthetic values were all designed to encourage its use and its highlight its car-like qualities. Today, though, Metro is far beyond its proof-of-concept phase. A day in DC without metro is completely inconceivable. I believe that the metro will retain its world class reputation and 'brand' with our without striping. Assuming, of course, our governments remember how vital the system is.

Given that, I think that moving away from striping will allow the system to acheive a wider variety of aesthetics. Bare steel means stations can assume different visual qualities, for instance.

by JTS on Apr 29, 2010 1:09 pm • linkreport

@Anon 1:01

Couldn't the cabins still be insulated by interior doors in a similar manner to the BART system?

by Adam L on Apr 29, 2010 1:22 pm • linkreport

I agree that WMATA should depart radically from their previous versions of cars and go for all the best known features of better designed railcars.

I disagree strongly about the brown. I've hated it from the moment I saw it. Brown is the color of shit. Those back of seat handrails that look like compacted shit, I never ever touch them, not in a thousand years. I refuse to touch them because I know how disgusting other WMATA users are and it may very well be compacted shit, who knows? I also despise all the orange. It could only be worse if the carpet were that disgusting green shag carpet from the 1970's.

If the stations were rethought with different color schemes then the flooring could be thought of as 'terra cotta' instead of 'only slightly less offensive than shit'.

I know my reaction is strong but I _really_ dislike all the old colors in metro, it feels aged, decrepit, and just disgusting.

by James on Apr 29, 2010 2:00 pm • linkreport

Having lived in Boston when the 4-door/side cars were introduced, they greatly facilitate entry and exit to the trains since you're never very far from a door. Maybe it give people more doors to stand in front of, but it also spreads out people who feel compelled to stand in front of the doors.

by Adam F on Apr 29, 2010 2:07 pm • linkreport

Matt, I think 3 doors is still the way to go. An extra set of doors per car would reduce seating capacity, which is helpful to those who commute longer distances from outside the core and during non-peak hours. I don't think the marginal improvement in dwell times is really worth the extra doors. It's important to remember that metro differs greatly in design from the New York and Boston systems that you used in your reasoning. Where as these cities are more traditional subways, Metro model epitomizes the subway-commuter rail hybrid "rapid transit" systems that prevailed in the 60s and 70s. I seem to remember in "The Great Society Subway" a debate during the planning of the metro on whether to have two doors per side (like BART had done) or add an additional door. For now, I'm happy we have three!

by Kevin H on Apr 29, 2010 2:21 pm • linkreport

How about adding a fourth door and keeping the transverse seating? That seems like it would alleviate the door congestion/standing space problem while allowing a far more comfortable ride than longitudinal seating, especially for special needs users, and during off peak hours.

by LA on Apr 29, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

Jesus Christ. All you freaks do is whine about how much you want DC to be like New York, and when a chance finally comes along, you bitch about that too.

/Typical Blogger

by MPC on Apr 29, 2010 2:37 pm • linkreport

You do realize that GGW is made up of many different people, right?

If you think I'm being inconsistent, I would encourage you to read my posts. There are only 63 of them. I have never once called for DC to become "like New York."

And if you think that all it takes for a city to become "like New York" is to purchase stainless steel rolling stock without a brown stripe, then I'm going to venture a guess that you've never been to New York.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 29, 2010 2:43 pm • linkreport


If anything, I'm striving to prevent DC becoming like NYC. NYC is NYC. There's no point in trying to copy or imitate it, because that's exactly what it would be: a facsimile.

So any debate on here about Metrorail cars is not about making them more like the MTA but how to make them uniquely DC.

by Adam L on Apr 29, 2010 2:46 pm • linkreport

I agree with 2/3 of Matt's post.
I completely agree in terms of 4 doors per side and the articulation. I rode the Paris Metro Line 14 about 10 years ago and you can literally walk from one end of the train to the other. This opens up a significant amount of space without requiring platform lengthening. On the 7000 series we would probably only be able to link 2 cars at a time but that is still better than the status quo.
Also, for the people that are saying that more doors will not increase the per/car carrying capacity, take a look at a metro car during rush hour. The density of standing passengers is much higher near the doors than away. I'm not saying the people standing in the middle have a huge amount of space. However, if we increased the density of passengers the metro would be able to serve more people (see also, change the seating arrangement to benches).
Were most likely not going to have a chance to order articulated cars for a long time since future series cars will most likely need to be compatible with the 7000 series.
Matt, Keep the good posts coming!

by AdamG on Apr 29, 2010 2:48 pm • linkreport

JTS I find bare steel boring and irrelevant. If you wanted to add many more steel design cues to the stations, that might work, but stainless is colder than bronzed steel.

Now, LA has a lot of diversity, and the trains just look out of place. New York's trains have the same problem. Metro was designed with the subway cars integrated into the stations, like parts of a machine that move from place to place. Its effectiveness relies on certain proportional and color consistencies. As for new stations, even after the opening of the whole Silver Line, 89% of metro stations will still use the old design cues, and half of the Silver line stations.

Saying that the aesthetics no longer matter now that metro is necessary kind of misses the billboard aspect of the Metro. Rather than saying it's America's Subway, Metro should just look like everything a subway should be. It still impresses 4/5 Johnsons from Winnetaka.

I get that you might have different preferences, but I still think the easiest way to give the system a unitary look is to reference the original design in the cars. It's really distinctive.

by Neil Flanagan on Apr 29, 2010 4:11 pm • linkreport

It impresses the Johnsons from Winnetaka because its a subway system, not because of its unitary design. Maybe we could have this conversation if Winnetaka had light rail or its own subway system, but for the vast majority of Americans who visit DC - especially those for whom this is possibly the biggest trip they take in a lifetime - the fact that you are sitting on a speeding train underground, which moves from different stations that service huge buildings and monumental sights and all for a few bucks, is surely awe inspiring in and of itself.

The system looks dated. Brown is dated. Carpet is dated. A lot of the outdoor lighting looks dated. Again, I understand this is strictly opinion, but the nice thing about stainless steel is that it is blank. It invites people to rethink system branding. I say let all new trains be blank, so as to not detract from art installations in different stations. Or to be decorated for something like the Olympics or any other huge event that could end up in DC someday (or to increase advertising space).

Yeah, it'll feel inconsistent when trains are linked together (but not really, because these cars are linked in groups of four anyways), but down the road, stainless steel invites a lot of other creative thinking, which, aesthetically speaking, the system could really benefit from.

by JTS on Apr 29, 2010 4:56 pm • linkreport

Given that the Johnsons from Winnetka live closer to Chicago than I live to DC, I'm guessing that they've seen a subway system before.

by Miriam on Apr 29, 2010 5:14 pm • linkreport

Just to be clear, I'm not related to any Johnsons in Winnetka.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 29, 2010 5:15 pm • linkreport

i still would like to see (hear) an awesome sound system/speakers -- not some junky, tinny-sounding, no-bass-having, unclear, garbled, Charlie Brown's teachers-sounding system.

my main interest is in possibly playing music on one or more cars in the future - a nice song to wake up to, or return from work on, for instance. we don't have to figure out exactly what we want to do with it right now -- we just want to make sure we have the capability to get creative, to add to the satisfaction/fulfillment/joy of riding public transit.

the idea is to take advantage of this being shared public space and compete with cars on our terms -- rocking out by yourself is cool, but going to a concert (to share the experience with others) is even better. The only caveat being that if you are on the train, you are 'trapped', so you'd want to be reasonable with your music/announcements/whatever selection.

here's an article on the Dubai Metro changing or getting rid of their music -- by most accounts, a terrible 'song'. not quite the example i was looking for, but at least people are trying it.

some trains have a 'quiet car' -- why not a 'music car', or 'comedy car', or whatever?

if you don't want to sit in the quiet/music/comedy/talking/performance car, move cars.

and the articulated trains could help with this -- easing passenger movement from car to car. here's a picture of the cars on the Paris 1 Metro line (a line which runs on track, but on rubber wheels, incidentally). talk about a cool sight -- first time i saw it, i was like, "Holy cow! Look! You can, like, see all the way down!" :) So cool going into and out of turns.

the cars should also be very quiet inside (i.e. crazy track screeching and all the rest should not be heard) -- like rolling in a Lexus. Lexus is also introducing active noise-canceling technology -- why shouldn't our Metro have the same or better?

listen to the sound system on this Graz tram -- clear!

i've heard folks are also installing tv-type systems -- not sure i'm down with that yet, though I _would_ like to see more-dynamic ads -- that is, ease of maintenance, not necessarily 50 tv-type ad screens going at once. when i'm on the train, i really don't need to stare at the same ad for 20 minutes -- it's possible i could get some useful info instead, like when the next WMATA meeting is. and i think the public should have access to post to these ad systems -- every new ad contract needs to build in 30% of ad space/time for public groups, like GGW, the preservation folks, the anti-transit folks, whoever. Toronto already equips many of its tram/bus stops with a public corkboard/flyering area.

by Peter Smith on Apr 29, 2010 6:18 pm • linkreport

I find the visceral reaction against brown, beige and orange by a lot of commenters here to be rather amusing. I think it's those of a certain age reacting against a pallet they associate with the 70s. I'm guessing most are mid-30s and older.

Have you walked into a West Elm or Starbucks recently? What's the color pallet? The base is almost universally brown with heavy use of beige and orange accents. Ask someone in their 20s about it. They'll probably have no idea why you hate those colors. Whether you like it or not, those colors are back!

Personally, I'm not too attached to any particular color scheme as long as it doesn't look cheap. But have you looked at the proposed interiors? The seats are that awful polyester velvet you find on buses. And it's Indigo/Purple with a rainbow of accent colors mixed in. It looks like a bus in Miami from the 80s. Now that's scary!

Since the design fails to incorporate real functional improvements in form, such as articulation and extra doors, why pay to re-invent the wheel? Cart out the old designs and re-use them with the electronics upgraded. Shouldn't that be cheaper?

by Frank on Apr 29, 2010 9:07 pm • linkreport

4 doors is too many. I like Bart's 2-door configuration as with less doors means more room for seats. Railcars should be designed to have the maximum amount of seating capacity.

by Davin Peterson on Apr 29, 2010 9:21 pm • linkreport

I like the brown stripe, thank you very much. This may be because, as Frank mentioned, it's something that people in their mid-20s associates with (I'm 22), or it may be because it's what I've seen nearly every day, and it's ingrained into my mind. Some people here may think it's not that big of a deal, but I personally think removing the stripe is a huge mistake for Metro to make.

Three doors is not as bad as it seems. The times the three door system doesn't work now often involves stations where every person on the platform are crowded to get into one or two train cars. If they would spread out, the current design works. I don't agree with Davin that railcars should be designed for max seating capacity. A balance between seats and standee room is important, because that results in higher capacities for that railcar.

by Justin..... on Apr 29, 2010 9:52 pm • linkreport

Those doors: the issue isn't their number but their placement. A simple improvement, not tried with the 7000 series cars, would have been to follow standard transit practice and offset the doors so that those from one side aren't directly opposite those of the other. With Metro's mix of center and outside platform stations it would have helped quite a bit with the unload/load cycle in stations as well as with the uneven distribution of passengers within the cars.

by intermodal commuter on Apr 29, 2010 9:52 pm • linkreport

Articulated train sets is a non starter. There is no way WMATA would ever consider articulated train sets. I am assuming few here have ever been in any of metrorail maintenance facilities. All of the lifts in in the shops are designed to accommodate 75' married pairs with 82" to 92" wheelbase trucks on 52' centers.

But then your definition of articulated train set may be different then mine. When I think of articulated train set I see 4 75' or 5 60' car bodies riding on 5 or 6 trucks. The the pivot point of the articulation is at center of trucks between the car bodies. That configuration can not be accommodated on WMATA's shop lifts.

The costs to modify an appropriate percentage of servicing bays to accommodated articulated train sets would increase the budget for the procurement of such a train sets by at least 25 percent.

If you were to articulate married pairs (2 75' car bodies on 3 trucks) modification would still need to be done to the servicing bays.

by Sand Box John on Apr 29, 2010 11:26 pm • linkreport

@Sand Box John:
You may be right about articulation, especially for more than one married pair.

However, there are still two options. Elimination of end bulkheads or diaphragms with legal pass-through.

Munich's newest rollingstock (C-Class) appear to be continuously articulated to the passenger but they're not. The cars don't share bogies across the diaphragms. This is because they don't have end bulkheads.

See picture #43 on this page (search for text "Mittelwagen 8765"):
and also picture 54 (search for text "Innenraum eines C-Zuges").

by Matt Johnson on Apr 29, 2010 11:44 pm • linkreport

Like Munich, Madrid's "boa" design for their current metro fleet uses two trucks per car without bulkheads at the ends, i.e., trucks are not positioned under the articulation pivot points.

The truck positions and open interiors are visible under the Class 7000 Series in this link:

Actually, their design incorporates most of the hit list suggested above: longitudinal seating, many poles for standees, ample room for bikes and wheelchairs.

by Frank on Apr 30, 2010 8:42 am • linkreport

I don't thing those designs would comply with the NTSB's crash worthiness recommendations.

The rehabilitated 2 and 3k cars along with the 5 and 6k cars have coalition posts to prevent telescoping on either side of the bulkhead doors.

But then European railways think differently then we do here in the United States about coalition prevention. Their thinking is design to prevent coalition, are thinking is design to prevent death or injury in the event of coalition.

by Sand Box John on Apr 30, 2010 9:19 am • linkreport

I believe slightly wider doors would hasten boarding. Strangers board in a zig-zag pattern to avoid contact. If two can board through the same doors without touching, everyone would move faster.

I would strongly favor one car on each train that has only one row of seats along each side of the car. Perhaps these could be pull down seats. Cyclists, parents with enormous strollers and others with large items would be required to use this car. People who don't mind standing could use it too. Of course there would be plenty of handrails for us short people. This car would always be located at the same position within the train (first, last, fifth).

No more strollers run over your toes or luggage assaulting your knees!!

The carpet has got to go. It's nasty.

Why don't they get rid of peak and off peak fares? It just confuses the tourists and makes the commuters (who are inconvenienced by and tend to hate Metro the most) pay more. It will increase revenue and I doubt most tourists would notice.

by iwill on Apr 30, 2010 10:01 am • linkreport

We don't need more standing room on Metro cars; we need enough trains and enough cars to eliminate the over-crowding.

Metro should be trying to improve the riding experience for its passengers, not cramming more in and making riding Metro more uncomfortable. Metro especially should not reduce the number of seats in the cars. Aside from the safety issues, the 1000 series are the most comfortable for riders in the fleet and should be the model for new cars rather than longitudinal seating. More doors would reduce the number of seats even more and is a bad idea. And we need to keep the carpets. Transit should look like a premium product, not the bottom of the barrel that people use only because they have no good alternative.

by Bob on Apr 30, 2010 10:57 am • linkreport

Oooo. I hadn't thought about that. Articulation creates the possibility of 10-car trains (in the distant future) with the same 8-car platforms.

I'm sticking with the more/bigger doors as a good thing in terms of loading/unloading. Somehow it's reassuring that WMATA did not seem to even consider this as an option; what would we all do if WMATA evolved into some semblance of a functional, transparent organization.

by Joe on Apr 30, 2010 10:58 am • linkreport


Long-distance trains should be designed for maximum seating capacity. Rapid transit railcars need to expedite boarding and exiting. Fewer doors, along with more seats to block your path to them, mean longer dwell times and rippling delays throughout the system during peak travel times.

by Matthias on Apr 30, 2010 11:00 am • linkreport

@Sand Box John

Is "coalition" a technical term, or do you mean "collision"?

by Matthias on Apr 30, 2010 11:02 am • linkreport

Door # vs. placement - The problem with the 3 door design is partially the distance between the doors: the end doors should be moved towards the center (relocating one of the midship rows of seats to the ends. Too much standing area is too far (through a crowd) from a door.

by egk on Apr 30, 2010 6:12 pm • linkreport

I must confess, I am not using the computer that I would normally compose posts on. The motherboard on that computer crapped the bed last Tuesday.

by Sand Box John on Apr 30, 2010 10:24 pm • linkreport

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