7000 Series Railcar Between-Car-Barriers
When Metro introduced the 7000-series rail cars, in addition to a number of accessibility enhancements, the trains featured a new dual between-car-barrier (BCB) design. The BCB design included chains and new rubber clamshell BCB's that alternate between each set of railcars. The original BCB design was fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.
In September 2016, based on feedback from disability community stakeholders and the regulatory agency, WMATA made the decision to retrofit all 7000-series trains. The planned retrofit involves removing all of the rubber BCBs and replacing them with the chain BCB, which will result in having a chain BCB between all cars on 7000-series trains. At the time of this decision, the retrofit project was expected to be completed within 8-15 months. However, design challenges and a limited supply of parts have caused an unexpected delay in this project, which is now scheduled to be completed by May 2019. WMATA continues to work with its railcar manufacturer in an effort to expedite the completion of this retrofit.
Barrier Awareness Initiatives
While Metro continues to work with the manufacturer of the 7000-series trains to retrofit the BCBs, the agency is taking several immediate steps to better inform the traveling public about the dual BCBs, and to increase the awareness of the rubber BCBs.
Metro has begun applying a multi-color contrast to the 7000-series rubber BCBs. The contrast is intended to bring more awareness of the barriers to all customers, but especially for individuals with low vision. The contrast will help customers recognize that the opening is not a door opening, but instead is the space between two railcars. The application of this contrast to all 7000-series rubber BCBs will be completed by mid-August.
Inside each Metrorail station two safety messages aimed at informing customers about the 7000-series trains are being aired periodically, at least once every 30 minutes each. One message highlights safe boarding through the technique/practice of having customers first "Find the Floor", and the second message specifically informs and highlights for customers the dual BCBs found on 7000-series trains, as well as emphasizing the need to "Find the Floor".
On Sunday, July 8th, operators of 7000-series trains began announcing "This is a 7000-series train" across the external speakers of the trains. This announcement is being made at every station once a train comes to a complete stop. By July 23rd, this announcement was installed as an automated announcement on all 7000-series trains. Please keep in mind that this announcement is only temporary. It will be ended upon completion of the BCB retrofit project.
The train announcement is intended to complement the station announcements, and heighten the awareness of all customers, but especially those who are blind/low vision, to the fact that they are about to board a train with dual BCBs.
Safety is Metro's number one priority. While Metro created a BCB design that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and passed several safety reviews, we have listened to our customers and stakeholders and are making the changes to the 7000-series BCBs that have been suggested to us.
For information about upcoming Accessibility Advisory Committee Meetings, visit Metro's Calendar.