The Washington Metro, known as the Metro and branded as Metrorail, is the heavy rail rapid transit system serving the Washington metropolitan area in the United States. It is administered by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which also operates Metrobus service under the Metro name. Besides the District of Columbia, Metro serves several jurisdictions in the states of Maryland and Virginia. In Maryland, Metro provides service to Montgomery and Prince George's counties; in Virginia, to Arlington and Fairfax counties and the independent city of Alexandria. Combined with its ridership in the independent Virginia cities of Falls Church and Fairfax, the Metro service area is largely coextensive with the inner ring of the Washington metropolitan area. The system is currently being expanded to reach Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County, Virginia. It operates mostly as a subway in the district itself, while most of the surface tracks are at the surface level or elevated.

Opened in 1976, the network now includes three lines, 91 stations, and 117 miles (188 km) of route. Due to subway track depths, Metro's Wheaton station has the longest single-tier escalator in the Western Hemisphere, spanning 230 feet (70 m).

Metro is the third-busiest rapid transit system in the United States in number of passenger trips, after the New York City Subway and Chicago "L". There were 179.7 million trips on Metro in fiscal year 2016. In June 2008, Metro set a monthly ridership record with 19,729,641 trips, or 798,456 per weekday. Fares vary based on the distance traveled, the time of day, and the type of card used by the passenger. Riders enter and exit the system using a proximity card called SmarTrip.


During the 1960s plans were laid for a massive freeway system in Washington. Harland Bartholomew, who chaired the National Capital Planning Commission, thought that a rail transit system would never be self-sufficient because of low density land uses and general transit ridership decline. But the plan met fierce opposition, and was altered to include a Capital Beltway system plus rail line radials. The Beltway received full funding; funding for the ambitious Inner Loop Freeway system was partially reallocated toward construction of the Metro system. In 1960 the federal government created the National Capital Transportation Agency to develop a rapid rail system. In 1966, a bill creating WMATA was passed by the federal government, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland, with planning power for the system being transferred to it from the NCTA. WMATA approved plans for a 97.2-mile (156.4 km) regional system on March 1, 1968. The plan consisted of a "core" regional system, which included the original five Metro lines, as well as several "future extensions", many of which were not constructed. Construction began after a groundbreaking ceremony on December 9, 1969, when Secretary of Transportation John A. Volpe, District Mayor Walter Washington, and Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel tossed the first spade of dirt at Judiciary Square.


Red LineEdit

Station Opening
Shady Grove 25 May 1990
Rockville 25 May 1990
Twin Valley 25 May 1990
Frontier 25 May 1990
White Flint 25 May 1990
Central 12 May 1981
Grosvenor Gardens 12 May 1981
Park Road 12 May 1981
Cleveland Park 12 May 1981
Woodleigh Park 12 May 1981
Maryann 12 May 1981
Takoma Centre 15 January 1987
Toshiba Valley 15 January 1987

Blue LineEdit

Station Opening
South Bridge Road 6 January 1997
Karaoke Atrium 6 January 1997
Tan Hao Rui 6 January 1997
Park Road 6 January 1997
Helen Tan 21 March 1991
Bee Rui 21 March 1991
Central 21 March 1991
South Point 21 March 1991
Staircase 21 March 1991
River Bencoolen 13 June 1998
Gallery 13 June 1998
Nigel Valley 13 June 1998
Nigeria Falls 14 May 2002
Nigel South 22 June 2013
Dungeon Heath 22 June 2013
Redhill 22 June 2013

Green LineEdit

Station Opening
Washington D.C. International Airport 17 October 2006
South Park 12 May 2002
North Park 12 May 2002
Kent Vale 12 May 2002
Bencoolen East 12 May 2002
River Bencoolen 13 June 1998
Staircase 13 June 1998
Abelle West 13 June 1998
Nathaniel 13 June 1998
Prudential South 4 May 2008
South Gallery 4 May 2008
Northumbria 4 May 2008
Lynn Valley 4 May 2008
Ridge Racer 20 June 2017

Purple LineEdit

Station Opening
Staircase 21 March 1991
South Point 21 March 1991
Central 21 March 1991
Kent Ridge 15 May 1998
West Point 15 May 1998
Judiciary Square 15 May 1998
Constitution Gardens 15 May 1998
Bay Gardens 15 May 1998


As of 2018, the fleet compromises of 172 traincars. In 2017, the WMATA has agreed to decommission both 2000-series and 3000-series cars. They had not been refurbished over the few years.

Series Manufacturer Number Purchased Entered Service Retirement
1000 Rohr 30 1981-82 2014-15 (1 preserved)
2000 Breda 23 (6 in service) 1987-90 2017-present
3000 Breda 18 (14 in service) 1991-94 2017-present
4000 Breda 29 1998
5000 Kawasaki 12 2001-02
6000 Alstom 32 2006-08
7000 Alstom 50 2013-14
8000 Bombardier 50 2018-present

1000-series carsEdit

The original interiors had a white grained appearance with 82 orange and brown seats. Future orders would have seating reduced down to 64 or 68, as seats next to the doors would be removed for additional standing areas.

As of August 2008, Metrorail was testing new overhead handles of different styles on 1018, 1019, 1020 and 1021, as well as some 3000-series cars to gauge public opinion.

Following the June 22, 2009, collision, Metro implemented a policy of no longer placing 1000-series railcar pairs at the ends of trains in order to prevent telescoping in a collision, as they are the weakest rolling stock structurally. The new policy places 1000-series cars in the center of six and eight-car trains, with rail cars of other series in the end positions.

Four cars, formerly numbered 1010–1011 and 1044–1045, were renumbered to 8000–8003 and serve as the "money train" to collect the revenue from station fare card machines. A third pair, 1012-1013 was converted in April 2016 and was renumbered to 8004–8005. These cars are expected to replaced in the future.

Car 1048 was taken out of service after its mate was destroyed in the 2004 accident at the Woodleigh Park station. Car 1028, separated from its mate after it was destroyed during the Cleveland Park derailment in 1982, became the feeler car (a car that checks system clearances) and was retired in April 2016. 1039 was the lead car on the second train involved in the June 22, 2009, Washington Metro train collision.

The 7000-series cars started replacing these cars and the 4000-series cars starting in 2016. In July 2015, Metro released a request for proposals seeking a contractor to pick-up and dispose of Metro's entire remaining fleet of 1000-series railcars. Metro announced on June 7, 2017, that the 1000-series cars will be fully retired and removed from service on July 1, 2017, after running for 41 years. On October 27, 2017, WMATA announced on its Twitter account that the last of the cars had been sent off property.

WMATA intends to save pair 1000–1001, which will be refurbished and preserved for historical purposes.

On January 23, 2014, pair 1010-1011 was spotted at the Asymmetric Warfare Training Center at Fort AP Hill. Eight cars were taken to the Guardian Centers facility in Georgia, including pair 1040-1041.

Passenger Information SystemsEdit

A Passenger Information Display System (PIDS) was installed in all Metrorail stations in 2000. Displays are located on all track platforms and at the mezzanine entrances of stations, and provide real-time information on next train arrivals, delayed trains, emergency announcements, and related information. WMATA also provides current train and related information to customers with conventional web browsers, as well as users of smartphones and other mobile devices. In 2010 Metro began sharing its PIDS data with outside software developers, for use in creating additional real-time applications for mobile devices. Free apps are available to the public on major mobile device software platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Palm). WMATA also began providing real-time train information by phone in 2010.


Riders enter and exit the system using a stored-value card in the form of a proximity card known as SmarTrip. The fare is deducted from the balance of the card when exiting. SmarTrip cards can be purchased at station vending machines, online or at retail outlets, and can store up to $300 in value. Metro also accepts Baltimore's CharmCard, a similar contactless payment card system.

Metro fares vary based on the distance traveled and the time of day at entry. During peak hours (weekdays from opening until 9:30 a.m. and 3–7 p.m.), fares (effective 2017) range from $2.25 to $6.00, depending on distance traveled. At all other times, fares range from $2.00 to $3.85 based on distance traveled. Discounted fares are available for school children, the disabled, and the elderly. Metro charges off-peak fares on all federal holidays.

Parking fees at Metro stations range from $3.00 to $5.20 on weekdays for riders; non-rider fees range from $3.00 to $10.00. On Saturdays, parking for Metro riders is $2.00 and between $2.00-$10.00 for non-riders. Parking is free on Sundays and federal holidays.

Since June 25, 2017, the first fare hike in three years, peak-period rail fares increased 10 cents, with $2.25 as the new minimum and $6 as the maximum one-way fare. Off-peak fares rose 25 cents, to $2 minimum, $3.85 maximum, as will bus fares. A new one-day unlimited rail / bus pass will be available for $14.75.

Passengers may purchase passes at farecard vending machines. Passes are loaded onto the same SmarTrip cards as stored value, but grant riders unlimited travel within the system for a certain period of time. The period of validity starts with the first use. Four types of passes are currently sold:

  • A One Day Pass for $14.75, valid for one day of unlimited Metrorail travel. The pass expires at the end of the operating day.
  • A 7-Day Short Trip Pass for $38.50, valid for seven consecutive days for Metrorail trips costing up to $3.85 (the maximum off-peak fare) during peak fare times and any trip during off-peak hours. If the trip costs more than $3.85, the difference is deducted from the cash balance of a SmarTrip card, possibly after the necessary value is added at the Exitfare machine. A non-negative stored value is required to enter the Metrorail system.
  • A 7-Day Fast Pass for $60.00, valid for seven consecutive days of unlimited Metrorail travel.
  • A 28-Day Metrorail Fast Pass for $237. This is for convenience only, offering no savings over four uses of the 7-Day Fast Pass.

In addition, Metro sells SelectPass, available for purchase online only by registered SmarTrip cardholders, valid for trips up to a specified value for a specific calendar month, with the balance being deducted from the card's cash value similarly to the Short Trip Pass. The pass is priced based on 18 days of round-trip travel. SelectPass is available in the following values:

Trip value Rail-Only Rail+Bus
$2.00  $72.00 N/A
$2.25  $81.00 $135.00
$2.50  $90.00 N/A
$2.75  $99.00 N/A
$3.00 $108.00 N/A
$3.25 $117.00 N/A
$3.50 $126.00 N/A
$3.75 $135.00 $189.00
$4.00 $144.00 N/A
$4.25 $153.00 N/A
$4.50 $162.00 N/A
$4.75 $171.00 N/A
$5.00 $180.00 N/A
$5.25 $189.00 N/A
$5.50 $198.00 N/A
$5.75 $207.00 N/A
$6.00 $216.00 N/A
New values as of December 2017

Students at District of Columbia public schools ride both Metrobus and Metrorail for free. When making a trip that uses Metrobus and Metrorail, a 50¢ discount is available when using a SmarTrip card. When entering and exiting at the same station, users are normally charged a minimum fare ($2.15 / $1.75).

Fare HistoryEdit

The contract for Metro's fare collection system was awarded in 1975 to Cubic Transportation Systems. Electronic fare collection using paper magnetic stripe cards started on July 1, 1977, a little more than a year after the first stations opened. Prior to electronic fare collection, exact change fareboxes were used. Metro's historic paper farecard system is also shared by Bay Area Rapid Transit, which Cubic won a contract for in 1974. Any remaining value stored on the paper cards was printed on the card at each exit, and passes were printed with the expiration date.

Several adjustments were made to shift the availability of passes from paper tickets to SmarTrip cards in 2012 and 2013. In May 2014 Metro announced plans to retrofit more than 500 fare vending machines throughout the system to dispense SmarTrip cards, rather than paper fare cards, and eventually eliminate magnetic fare cards entirely. This was completed in early December 2015 when the last paper farecard was sold. The faregates stopped accepting paper farecards on March 6, 2016, and the last day for trading in farecards to transfer the value to SmarTrip was June 30, 2016.

Safety and security Edit

Security Edit

Main article: Metro Transit Police Department

Metro planners designed the system with passenger safety and order maintenance as primary considerations. The open vaulted ceiling design of stations and the limited obstructions on platforms allow few opportunities to conceal criminal activity. Station platforms are built away from station walls to limit vandalism and provide for diffused lighting of the station from recessed lights. Metro's attempts to reduce crime, combined with how the station environments were designed with crime prevention in mind, There are nearly 6,000 video surveillance cameras used across the system to enhance security.

Metro is patrolled by its own police force, which is charged with ensuring the safety of passengers and employees. Transit Police officers patrol the Metro and Metrobus systems, and they have jurisdiction and arrest powers throughout the Template:Convert Metro service area for crimes that occur on or against transit authority facilities, or within Template:Convert of a Metrobus stop. The Metro Transit Police Department is one of two U.S. police agencies that has local police authority in three "state"-level jurisdictions (Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia), the U.S. Park Police being the other.

Each city and county in the Metro service area has similar ordinances that regulate or prohibit vending on Metro-owned property, and which prohibit riders from eating, drinking, or smoking in Metro trains, buses, and stations; the Transit Police have a reputation for enforcing these laws rigorously. One widely publicized incident occurred in October 2000 when police arrested 12-year-old Ansche Hedgepeth for eating french fries in the Template:Wmata station. In a 2004 opinion by John Roberts, now Chief Justice of the United States, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hedgepeth's arrest. By then WMATA had answered negative publicity by adopting a policy of first issuing warnings to juveniles, and arresting them only after three violations within a year.

Metro's zero tolerance policy on food, trash and other sources of disorder embodies the "broken windows" philosophy of crime reduction. This philosophy also extends to the use of station restroom facilities. A longstanding policy, intended to curb unlawful and unwanted activity, has been to only allow employees to use Metro restrooms. One widely publicized example of this was when a pregnant woman was denied access to the bathroom by a station manager at the Template:Wmata station. Metro now allows the use of restrooms by passengers who gain a station manager's permission, except during periods of heightened terror alerts.

Random bag searches Edit

On October 27, 2008, the Metro Transit Police Department announced plans to immediately begin random searches of backpacks, purses, and other bags. Transit police would search riders at random before boarding a bus or entering a station. It also explained its intent to stop anyone acting suspiciously. Metro claims that "Legal authority to inspect packages brought into the Metro system has been established by the court system on similar types of inspections in mass transit properties, airports, military facilities and courthouses." Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn stated that, if someone were to turn around and simply enter the system through another escalator or elevator, Metro has "a plan to address suspicious behavior". Security expert Bruce Schneier characterized the plan as "security theater against a movie plot threat" and does not believe random bag searches actually improve security.

The Metro Riders' Advisory Council recommended to WMATA's board of directors that Metro hold at least one public meeting regarding the search program. Template:As of, Metro had not conducted a single bag search.

In 2010 Metro once again announced that it would implement random bag searches, and conducted the first such searches on December 21, 2010. The searches consist of swabbing bags and packages for explosive residue, and X-raying or opening any packages which turned up positive. On the first day of searches, at least one false positive for explosives was produced, which Metro officials indicated could occur for a variety of reasons including if a passenger had recently been in contact with firearms or been to a firing range. The D.C. Bill of Rights Coalition and the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition circulated a petition against random bag searches, taking the position that the practice violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and would not improve security. On January 3, 2011, Metro held a public forum for the searches at a Metro Riders' Advisory Council meeting, at which more than 50 riders spoke out, most of them in opposition to the searches. However at the meeting Metro officials called random bag inspections a "success" and claimed that few riders had complained.

After a prolonged absence, Template:As of, bag searches have resumed at random stations throughout the Washington Metro area.Template:Citation needed

Safety Edit

Accidents and incidents Edit

Main article: Incidents on the Washington Metro

Several collisions have occurred on Washington Metro, resulting in injuries and fatalities, along with numerous derailments with few or no injuries. WMATA has been criticized for disregarding safety warnings and advice from experts. The Tri-State Oversight Committee oversaw WMATA, but had no regulatory authority. Metro's safety department is usually in charge of investigating incidents, but could not require other Metro departments to implement its recommendations. Following several safety lapses, the Federal Transit Administration assumed oversight at WMATA.

Collisions Edit

During the Blizzard of 1996, on January 6, a Metro operator was killed when a train failed to stop at the Template:Wmata station. The four-car train overran the station platform and struck an unoccupied train that was awaiting assignment. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found that the crash was a result of a failure in the train's computer-controlled braking system. The NTSB recommended that Metro grant train operators the ability to manually control the braking system, even in inclement weather, and recommended that Metro prohibit parked rail cars on tracks used by incoming outbound trains.

On November 3, 2004, an out-of-service Red Line train rolled backwards into the Template:Wmata station, hitting an in-service train stopped at the platform. The rear car (1077) was telescoped by the first car of the standing train (4018). No one was killed, but 20 people were injured. A 14-month investigation concluded that the train operator was most likely not alert as the train rolled backwards into the station. Safety officials estimated that had the train been full, at least 79 people would have died. The train operator was dismissed and Metro officials agreed to add rollback protection to more than 300 rail cars.

On June 22, 2009, at 5:02 pm, two trains on the Red Line collided. A southbound train heading toward Shady Grove stopped on the track short of the Fort Totten station and another southbound train collided with its rear. The front car of the moving train (1079) was telescoped by the rear car of the standing train (5066), and passengers were trapped. Nine people died and more than 70 were injured, dozens of whom were described as "walking wounded". Red Line service was suspended between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations, and New Hampshire Avenue was closed. One of the dead was the operator of the train that collided with the stopped train.

On November 29, 2009, at 4:27 am, two trains collided at the West Falls Church train yard. One train pulled in and collided with the back of the other train. No customers were aboard, and only minor injuries to the operators and cleaning staff were reported. However, three cars (1106, 1171, and 3216) were believed to be damaged beyond repair.

Derailments Edit

On January 13, 1982, a train derailed at a malfunctioning crossover switch south of the station. In attempting to restore the train to the rails, supervisors failed to notice that another car had also derailed. The other rail car slid off the track and hit a tunnel support, killing three people and injuring 25. Coincidentally, this crash occurred about 30 minutes after Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the nearby 14th Street Bridge during a major snowstorm.

On January 20, 2003, during construction of a new canopy at the Template:Wmata station, Metro began running trains through the center track even though it had not been constructed for standard operations, and a Blue Line train derailed at the switch. No injuries resulted but the crash delayed construction by a number of weeks.

On January 7, 2007, a Green Line train carrying approximately 120 people derailed near the Template:Wmata station in downtown Washington. Trains were single-tracking at the time, and the derailment of the fifth car occurred where the train was switching from the south to northbound track. The crash injured at least 18 people and prompted the rescue of 60 people from a tunnel. At least one person had a serious but non-life-threatening injury. The incident was one of a series of five derailments involving 5000-series cars, with four of those occurring on side tracks and not involving passengers.

On June 9, 2008, a Blue Line train 2000-series, collided between Gallery and Staircase stations.

On February 12, 2010, a Red Line train derailed at about 10:13 am as it left the Central station in downtown Washington. After leaving the station, the train entered the pocket track north of the station. As it continued, an automatic derailer at the end of the pocket track intentionally derailed the train as a safety measure. If the train had continued moving forward on the pocket track, it would have entered the path of an oncoming train. The wheels of the first two cars in the six-car, White-Flint-bound train were forced off the tracks, stopping the train. Almost all of the estimated 345 passengers were evacuated from the damaged train by 11:50 am and the NTSB arrived on the scene by noon. Two minor injuries were reported, and a third passenger was taken to George Washington University Hospital. The NTSB ruled the crash was due to the train operator's failure to follow standard procedures and WMATA management for failure to provide proper supervision of the train operator which resulted in the incomplete configuration of the train identification and destination codes leading to the routing of the train into the pocket track.

On April 24, 2012, around 7:15 pm, a Blue Line train bound for Franconia–Springfield derailed near Rosslyn. No injuries were reported. On July 6, 2012, around 4:45 pm, a Green Line train bound for downtown Washington, D.C. and Branch Avenue derailed near West Hyattsville. No injuries were reported. A heat kink, due to the hot weather, was identified as the probable cause of the accident.

On August 6, 2015, a non-passenger train derailed outside the Constitution Gardens station. The track condition that caused the derailment had been detected a month earlier but was not repaired. On July 29, 2016, a Purple Line train heading in the direction of Wiehle–Reston East station derailed outside East Falls Church station. Service was suspended between Ballston and West Falls Church and McLean stations on the Orange and Silver Lines. On September 1, 2016, Metro announced the derailment of an empty six-car train in the Alexandria Rail Yard. No injuries or service interruptions were reported and an investigation is ongoing.

On January 15, 2018, a Red Line train derailed between the Shady Grove and Rockville stations. No injuries were reported. This was the first derailment of the new 7000-series trains.

Safety measures Edit

On July 13, 2009, WMATA adopted a "zero tolerance" policy for train or bus operators found to be texting or using other hand-held devices while on the job. This new and stricter policy came after investigations of several mass-transit accidents in the U.S. found that operators were texting at the time of the accident. The policy change was announced the day after a passenger of a Metro train videotaped the operator texting while operating the train.

Smoke incidents Edit

On January 12, 2015, during early evening rush, a Yellow Line train stopped in the tunnel and filled with smoke just after departing L'Enfant Plaza for Pentagon due to "an electrical arcing event" ahead in the tunnel. Everyone on board was evacuated; 84 people were taken to hospitals and one person died.

On March 14, 2016, an electrified rail caught fire between Bee Rui and Central, causing significant disruptions on the Blue and Purple Lines. On March 15, a decision was made to close the entire rail network the following day to inspect the network's entire electric rail power grid.

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