Metro to Showcase All-Digital Railcars, Zero-Emissions Buses in March 20 Preview

Metro will offer the public a preview of its new all-digital railcars and zero-emissions buses from March 20 to April 3.

The “Fleet of the Future” will be showcased at the National Mall on 12th Street and Madison Drive NW, near the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and National Museum of Natural History. This marks the first time since 1968 that Metro will present a mock-up of its latest trains on the National Mall.

Metro’s general manager Randy Clarke describes the event as a momentous opportunity.

“Unveiling the Fleet of the Future marks a major step for Metro,” Clarke said. “We took best practices from all over the world – open gangways, more space, better digital screens for real-time information, enhanced video systems to improve safety, a more sustainable aluminum shell, and eye-catching design – and put them in this train. We are proud of all the improvements we were able to pack into this new fleet and welcome everyone to come out and see the future of America’s transit system.”

According to a Metro press release, the 8000-series railcar mock-up, measuring 82 feet long and 10 feet wide, offers a glimpse of the upcoming two connected open gangway cars. While not a full-scale replica, it showcases various features of the trains. Expo attendees can expect differences from the final product, including manual doors, the absence of heated floors, some sticker usage instead of digital displays, unique lighting, and molded seats instead of fabric.

The new battery-electric buses boast zero tailpipe emissions, enhancing air quality and providing a quieter, smoother ride due to their electric nature. Improved amenities include digital passenger information screens, USB charging ports, and new fare boxes.

“Two of these buses have entered service on and customers have given us an overwhelmingly positive response,” Clarke said. “More electric buses are on the way later this year, and we wanted to give our community a chance to check out these incredibly quiet and environmentally friendly vehicles at the Fleet of the Future Expo.”

The upcoming trains feature an open passageway design for easy movement between cars, enhancing safety, passenger flow, and capacity. They offer increased seating along the walls, more standing room, dedicated spaces for mobility device users, and flexible areas for bikes, strollers, and luggage.

Additionally, the trains will include larger digital screens, and energy-efficient radiant heated floors, and will be assembled by Hitachi Rail in Hagerstown, to replace older trains and create a more reliable fleet. The Fleet of the Future exhibit pays homage to Metro’s history, recalling the prototype train displayed in various locations, including the White House lawn in 1968.

Metro said that the Expo promises entertainment for all ages and serves as a convenient stop for those visiting the cherry blossoms. Activities include a train-themed photobooth, a Baby Bus mascot-themed photo cutout, a display of historic transit photos, and a Metro history quiz. Guests can explore the railcar and new 60-foot electric buses, offer feedback, and learn about the design.

The Expo will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from March 20 through April 3. Visitors can access the National Mall via several Metro stops and nearby bus routes.

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