Shiny new metro cars hopefully mean WMATA improvements

Last week, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) unveiled a mockup of its new 7000-series rail cars. The metro cars are expected to debut on the tracks in late 2013 or early 2014. According to the WMATA, the cars “represent the largest investment in the Metro’s fleet in [WMATA] history.”

The Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. 7000-series cars cost about $2 million, including the design, parts, and warranty, which is more than the previous models, according to WMATA Public Information Officer Philip Stewart. Yes, the new cars are more expensive, but they are more advanced. Stainless steel exteriors, LCD maps to track current location, LED displays, improved door technology, additional in-car space, more comfortable seats, and “resilient nonslip” floors are all part of the 7000-series package. So it’s only natural that these cars turn out to be more pricey.

However, part of me can’t help but feel that I, a frequent metro rider, will end up paying for it. Metro fares for those travelling during rush hour are getting slammed — it cost $1.20 to get on the metro in 2003 compared to $2.10 in 2012. It doesn’t sound like much, but a 75 percent increase is pretty wild. And for those going the distance — say, from Shady Grove to Dupont Circle — it costs $5.75 as opposed to the $3.60 of 2003. To be fair, the base fare during off-peak times has actually decreased since 2003, so it’s not all bad news.

I don’t have an issue with my metro ride into Dupont Circle costing as much as it does. Quite the contrary. Like any paid service, if the metro service happens to warrant the cost, I would be more than happy to shell out the extra pennies. The problem, however, is that it doesn’t. Just search for #unsuckdcmetro on Twitter or on Google and you’ll see what I mean.

Frankly, I’m hoping that the 364 new 7000-series cars do more than just replace the 1000-series cars that have been in service since the metrorail opened in 1976. I’m hoping it makes the ride better. I’m hoping it lifts the WMATA out of their economic funk. But even more, I’m hoping they #unsuckdcmetro.