Metro's three-year plan includes new rail cars, new payment options

Photo: Jay Westcott

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- New payment options, better reliability and the phase-out of the rail system's oldest cars are all on the immediate horizon for Metro, the agency's GM says.

WMATA's top officials laid out a new three-year plan for the nation's second busiest transit system, one that's highlighted by the introduction of the new 7000-series rail cars.

Over the next three years, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles says that the 50 percent of system's fleet will be comprised of the new 7000-series cars. At the same time, the entire stock of 1000-series rail cars, which date back to Metro's opening in 1976, will be phased out.

1000-series cars were the ones involved in the 2009 Red line crash that killed nine people. Sarles and other officials say that the newest cars will bring a new layer of safety to the rail system.

Sarles also says said that the agency plans to phase out the systems old paper farecard gates in favor of modern, electronic ones. That would give riders more payment options, he said.

"Riders will be able to use their credit cards or even their smartphones right at the fare gates, so they won't have to trade their money into Metro money," Sarles said.

"I am a native Washingtonian and I am happy Metro is here -- if it improves its service, I am all for it," said Tom Mundell.

"That sounds good -- everything is with the phones now," added Lexus Crayton.

More 8-car trains will also begin to run systemwide over the next three years, Sarles says, in an effort to improve passenger flow during peak hours inside Metro's busiest stations, which include Union Station and Gallery Place.

Laura Kae rides the metro every day, and safety and comfort are her biggest concerns:

“There are lots of times where it's so packed you don't even want to get on, so if they could improve that, that would be great," she said.

In addition, Metro is ready to roll out another new version of its iconic spoke-and-wheel map. This one includes the new Silver line, which is slated to open early next year.