Doors Will Soon Open Automatically on Metro’s Red Line

photoWMATA photo

Metrorail customers on the Red Line may notice a quicker commute starting July 7, as Metro resumes use of trains’ automatic door-opening feature. Over the past several months, Metro has tested and tuned the system and trained hundreds of train operators in advance of the milestone, the transit agency said in a news release.

The automatic door opening feature is part of the original design of the Metrorail system, but its use was discontinued years ago due to a decline in reliability and problems with human error.

When in automatic-door mode, the train receives data on its exact location from transmitters located on the track. After the train comes to a complete stop and is confirmed to be properly “berthed” at the platform, the doors are automatically opened on the appropriate side of the train. Train operators will continue to have responsibility for closing doors at all times.

Two benefits

Returning to automatic door operations has two significant benefits. First, it enhances safety by removing the potential for human error resulting in an accidental “wrong side” door opening.

In addition, use of the automatic system may improve the customer experience, because the doors will open as soon as the train is stopped at the proper location. When operated manually, Metro requires that train operators pause for several seconds prior to opening the doors as a safety measure.

Metro plans to begin using auto-doors on the system’s five other lines later this year.

Today, Metrorail operators manually open doors approximately 21,000 times each weekday.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.