AU students who travel throughout the D.C. area for jobs, internships, dining or general sightseeing via Metrorail could soon encounter changes in the popular Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority service.
The WMATA Board of Directors recently decided to expand and improve the system by adding 648 new cars and repairing and revamping 100 existing ones, according to The Washington Post.
The plan, which is projected to cost $2.76 million per car, could cost up to $2 billion out of an $11 billion, 10-year improvement program for General Manager John B. Catoe’s entire regional public transportation system, the Post reported.
Efforts to improve the Metrorail will result in a 30 percent increase in number of cars in the fleet, which currently has 1,140 train cars. This will also add technologies such as monitors in each car that will display news and station information and better trouble-shooting technology for the train operators, according to the Post.
Eric Elliot, a sophomore in the Kogod School of Business, said he was unhappy with the current Metrorail schedule because it was not conducive to a student’s schedule.
“My main complaint is infrequency of trains at certain hours, so I think that from a student’s standpoint [the addition of train cars] is a good thing because we’re more likely to see a better schedule,” he said.
People who have traveling time constraints, such as students who need to get to internships or jobs, will most benefit from an improved Metrorail schedule, according to Alex Mensing, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I think it will make the biggest difference for people who have internships, and those are the kinds of people that really should be concerned about what goes on in the Metro,” he said.
Lauren Moore, a freshman in the School of International Service, said she would rather see an expansion in the number of Metrorail routes.
“[It] seems like [there is] a big portion of the city that it doesn’t touch,” she said.
Elliot and Mensing said they would like Metrorail to have stations in Georgetown and at Dulles International Airport. There is a long-term plan to expand Metrorail into Dulles via the proposed silver line, The Eagle previously reported. Metrobus routes run to both locations.
David McGarry, a freshman in CAS, said he doesn’t think he has ever needed to wait very long for a train.
“They should make the trains run later at night instead of adding more,” he said.
Additional Metrorail cars may help with busy travel times, according to Annette Priscilla, a sophomore in CAS.
“[Adding more trains] will definitely help with rush hour traffic,” she said. “If you hit the Metro at the wrong time, people get packed into the cars like sardines.”
In fact, approximately 24 percent of trains that run during rush hours are the full eight cars long, and the remaining trains only have six cars, according to the Post. The expansion would cause all trains during the morning and afternoon rush hour periods to expand to eight cars.
Emma Boorboor, a freshman in SIS, said she likes the improvement plan, but wants to keep fares low.
“This can only be a positive thing for us customers as long as the expenditure of this extra money does not affect fares,” she said.