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Metro to make Bethesda 'station of the future'

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Photo - Metro's Bethesda station is set to get a $10 million facelift as Metro makes it the "model station of the future."
Metro's Bethesda station is set to get a $10 million facelift as Metro makes it the "model station of the future."
Local,Liz Essley,Metro,Metro and Traffic

Metro's Bethesda station is set to get a $10 million facelift as Metro makes it the "model station of the future."

Metro officials announced Thursday that they would test station upgrades and a new interior design by installing them at the Red Line station. Improvements that get good reviews from customers will be taken to the rest of Metro's stations.

"[Bethesda will be] much brighter. You'll be able to see things easier, you'll get a lot more information on the platforms as well as throughout the station, so they'll be able to make it through the station more easily," Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said. "It will just feel good."

Key features of model station
» Brighter lighting
» New escalators
» Anti-slip zone at bottom of escalators
» Stainless steel and light gray interior
» Information wall near fare machines
» Thinner kiosk with digital panels for information
» New fare gates with new technology
» Taller pylons with real-time train information
Busy day for Metro
More than 870,000 trips were taken on the Metro system Wednesday, making it the fourth busiest day in the transit agency's history, Metro said.
A Capitol Hill rally, cherry blossom tourists, a Nationals game and a Wizards game got the credit for the ridership boom.
It was the busiest day for Metro since April 2, 2010, the agency said. The top day for Metro ridership was President Obama's first inauguration in 2009.

The upgrades at Bethesda will include better lighting, an "anti-slip zone" at the bottom of escalators, a stainless steel interior, an "information wall" near farecard machines, better fare gates with new technology to let passengers through more quickly, and new, taller pylons in the middle of the platforms with better signs showing real-time train arrivals. Metro also will install new escalators and a new stairway, though those are not included in the $10 million price tag.

The changes will do away with a Metro design in place since the system opened in 1976, featuring concrete vaults and brown pylons and fixtures. The new look will feature a sleek, stainless steel and gray color scheme instead of "Metro brown."

Metro staff expect to finish Bethesda's makeover by June 2015. Then they will reach out to riders to see what's popular and what's not, Sarles said.

"This is the prototype," Sarles said. "We're going to get reactions to it. We're going to learn as we design and construct it and see what improvements we can make."

Metro staff said they chose Bethesda because they were already planning to replace the escalators there and wanted to work with a station that has a platform between the tracks, since those are more difficult to light and renovate.

The "station of the future" is part of Metro's proposed $2.7 billion operating and capital budget for 2014, which awaits approval from Metro's Board of Directors.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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