Early in the week of July 8, 2018, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) began instructing some 7000-series train operators to make a new manual announcement to riders: “This is a 7000-series train.” This additional announcement comes in response to three separate incidents in which visually impaired individuals fell into gaps between 7000-series train cars due to unique aspects of its design.
Rail Transit OPS disagrees with WMATA’s implementation of this new procedure. The announcement does not identify the difference between a door and an inter-car gap any more than the current automated announcement sequence does, and therefore does not increase safety or mitigate risk. The announcement also appears to assume that all riders, both commuters and tourists alike, already know the features and characteristics of a 7000-series railcar, specifically that the gap between these cars can pose a hazard.
As an interim solution, we recommend this manual announcement be replaced with “Please use caution when boarding or exiting this train” until this same announcement can be added to the existing automatic announcement sequence of all 7000-series railcars. Similar automated announcements have been added in the past to these cars to warn riders of uneven platform surfaces at both the Braddock Road and Rhode Island Avenue stations, so this is technically feasible relatively quickly.
As a secondary recommendation, Rail Transit OPS also suggests the automated announcements of 7000-series railcars be modified to announce which side train doors will open on in approach to each station to match the manual announcements already made by operators of legacy (2K/3K/6K-series) trains. This would deliver a more consistent rider experience and, more importantly, further assist some of those same customers who are also currently at risk of falling between inter-car gaps.
Rail Transit OPS Group is an independent organization that monitors rail transit operations, performance, and safety procedures to proactively address potential issues. Rail Transit OPS is supported solely from independent contributions by individuals like you. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.