New Metro rail cars: will you get a seat?

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Capital Land,Kytja Weir

Metro riders who saw the new designs for the transit agency’s next generation rail cars last week may have been impressed with the rubber floors, the cool blue hues and LED lighting. But the pragmatists may have immediately started to wonder: Will they get a seat? Will they have a place to hold on? Will there be more room?

Don’t count on getting a seat if you don’t usually. The new 7000 Series cars will have fewer seats than the trains they are replacing, the 1000 Series cars, as The Washington Examiner reported Friday, and all but one model of rail cars.  That means the average number of seats per rail car will drop systemwide.

Here’s how the rail cars stack up by model, according to Metro figures.

1000 Series: 74-80 seats
2000/3000 Series: 68 seats
4000 Series: 72 seats
5000 Series: 68 seats
6000 Series: 60 seats
7000 Series: 62 or 64 seats depending on where they are in the configuration of the four cars.

The oldest cars, the 1000 Series, had the most seats but they also were built before the Americans With Disabilities Act took effect requiring space for riders in wheelchairs. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the new cars are designed to provide more room for luggage – a necessity for the riders who will be going to Washington Dulles International Airport on the new Dulles Rail line – but also wheelchairs, bikes and standing riders.

Yet Metro says the new 7000 Series rail cars will have more room overall for riders when they start arriving in 2013. Built in four-car groupings, the new cars will have less space set aside for train operators' cabs then the two-car pairs of Metro’s fleet. That means they can fit on average about five more riders per car — even if that means standing. The agency also says they will have 25 percent more railing space for riders to grasp, a necessity if more riders will be standing.

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