It's going to get brighter in Metro stations.
The transit agency is working on a plan to install more lighting on 17 mezzanines at 10 Metro stations, similar to new fluorescent lights recently added to the Judiciary Square station as a pilot program.
"One of the areas that is being looked at closely is our lighting standards and lighting methods," Rob Troup, Metro's acting deputy general manager for rail, told Metro's board of directors. "We had to restructure how we did our maintenance, and that also gave us the opportunity to investigate various lighting arrangements."
|Metro will improve the lighting in 17 of its mezzanines by July 2014, including:|
|2 locations at Metro Center|
|2 at L'Enfant Plaza|
|2 at Gallery Place-Chinatown|
|1 at Ballston|
|2 at Smithsonian|
|2 at McPherson Square|
|2 at Farragut West|
|2 at Dupont Circle|
|1 at Clarendon|
|1 at Virginia Square|
Troup said Metro is systematically examining its lighting standards and replacing what he calls "coffee can lights" in the ceilings with high-efficiency, brighter fluorescent lighting, as it did in Judiciary Square.
Ten stations will get the same treatment by July 2014, Troup said.
Better lighting has been at the top of the wish list for disability advocates, who say stations' poor lighting can discourage people with disabilities from using the system or make it unsafe for those who do. A blind Rockville man was killed at Gallery Place in 2009 when he fell off the platform and was hit by a Red Line train.
Metro's Accessibility Advisory Committee recently asked the agency's board to budget $24 million for lighting improvements.
'I think we have this very high on their priority list," said Patrick Sheehan, chairman of the accessibility group. Sheehan is blind and, like other riders with visual disabilities, said he struggles to find escalators and elevators in dark Metro stations.
Sheehan said the Metro board was waiting to gauge the effects of sequestration before committing to spending a large amount of money, but that he thought the board was eager to do something to fix the stations' darkness.
"I think it's moving forward," Sheehan said. "Now is it ever going to move fast enough for the advocacy community? Probably not. But we work towards getting it done."
But riders shouldn't expect bright-as-day platforms or large light fixtures that overwhelm Metro stations' sleek design.
"The architecture of our system is important to the region. Any improvements need to be consistent with the aesthetics of our system," Troup said.