Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is the primary regional transit operator in the Washington, DC region. It operates Metrorail and Metrobus services throughout Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia The Metrorail system in 1969 and it opened on March 27, 1976 and has since expanded to 91 stations and 117 miles of track. Metro is recognized by locals and tourists alike for its carpeted trains, cushioned seats, and high arched vault station designs, though the carpet is being removed from the older trains and the newest trains never had it installed. Metrorail trains can operate at speeds of up to 75 MPH and have automatic train operation such that the on board train operator only closes the doors and makes station announcements. However, following the 2009 Fort Totten crash, trains have been operated in manual mode indefinitely (as of 2015, some 8 car trains on the Red Line have returned to automatic operation).
WMATA also operates fixed route bus service under the Metrobus banner. Metrobus was founded in 1973 when WMATA bought out the four remaining bus companies that were still operating in the area. WMATA now operates a fleet of over 1,500 buses on over 300 routes to over 12,000 bus stops throughout the region. At various times, the Metrobus fleet has been dominated by one manufacturer. New Flyer built many of the units currently in service, but prior to this the Metrobus fleet was dominated by Orions and before that by Flxibles.
The WMATA 1000 Series was one of the few contracts that Rohr received while in the railcar construction business. The 300 Rohr cars were the original cars for the Metrorail system and entered service in 1976 when the system opened. They received a general overhaul in the early 1990s, at which time AC traction motors were installed. The Rohrs were restricted to operating in the middle of train consists after the June 2009 Fort Totten crash, but this move appears to have been nothing but a public relations stunt over concerns about the structural integrity of the cars being stronger if they were not on the ends of the consists. The 1000 Series will be retired as the Kawasaki 7000 Series cars arrive.
The "original" WMATA Breda cars consist of the 2000 Series and 3000 Series cars before their rehab, as well as the 4000 Series. The 2000 Series cars were delivered between 1981 and 1983. They came with cam controllers and DC motors, had fewer seats than the Rohr 1000 Series cars and flip dot destination signs, among other features. The 3000 Series cars had chopper controllers but otherwise looked to be virtually identical to the 2000 Series cars when they were delivered between 1984 and 1988. The 4000 Series cars were delivered in between 1991 and 1993. These cars had a few cosmetic changes from the earlier 2000 Series and 3000 Series cars. The 2000 Series and 3000 Series cars were rehabilitated starting in 2002. The 4000 Series cars will not be rehabbed and will be retired upon the arrival of the 7000 Series cars. As of November 2016, the 4000 Series cars, like the 1000 Series cars, are only being used in the middle of consists due to safety concerns about running these cars at the front or rear of trains.
Starting in 2002 and continuing through mid-2008, Alstom rehabbed the 2000 Series and 3000 Series cars to extend their lifespans. The rehab included installing AC motors and LED signage including interior next station indicator, and the updated interior colors that debuted on the 5000 Series cars. The rehab also eliminated the minor differences between the 2000 Series and 3000 Series cars, making them a single car type for all intents and purposes.
The WMATA 5000 Series cars were built by CAF, marking the company's first railcar contract in the United States. The CAFs entered service in 2001, and delivery of all 192 cars was completed in mid-2004. The CAF cars were the first to feature the updated Potomac Blue, Colonial Burgundy, and Chesapeake Sand interior colors, and were also the first to feature LED exterior destination signage, interior LED displays to indicate the next stop, and an on board computer to monitor train diagnostics. The 5000 Series cars have been plagued by various maintenance issues to the point that WMATA has opted to retire them rather than rehab them. An option order of 7000 Series cars was exercised in order to facilitate their early retirement.
WMATA ordered 184 cars from Alstom, the same company that rehabbed the 2000 Series and 3000 Series cars. The 6000 Series entered service in October 2006. They had a further reduction in the number of seats from the 2000 Series, 3000 Series, 4000 Series, and 5000 Series, fewer windscreens, additional interior LEDs, and some other cosmetic changes.
WMATA ordered 528 7000 Series cars from Kawasaki to replace the 1000 Series, 4000 Series, and 5000 Series fleets. The 7000 Series is quite different from the preceding railcar orders that WMATA has made. The cars are built from stainless steel rather than aluminum. They feature the new "disco ball logo" rather than the traditional brown stripe along the sides. The trains have a new interior color scheme, automated announcements, multiple interior LED and LCD displays, an updated cab layout, and many other features that make them incompatible with the older rolling stock. They also can only run in 4 or 8 car trains, whereas the older equipment can also be run in 2 and 6 car trains. The first 7000 Series train entered service in April 2015.
As of 2014, WMATA has 91 stations. While there is some variation in the station designs, many design aspects are carried across each of these variations. Nearly every underground station is located in a long vault with a high arched ceiling. Surface and elevated stations tend to incorporate motifs of the underground stations in their design. All platforms have red hexagonal tiles and flashing lights on the platform edge to warn of approaching trains. Many stations have Metro's iconic brown pylons featuring the station name and strip maps. While some may say that WMATA's station design lacks diversity, one can certainly find differences in the station design if one looks hard enough.
The Flxible Metro-B was a mainstay of the WMATA fleet through the 1990s and in to the 2000s. Some of them even remained in the reserve fleet until 2011, though their numbers were limited by mid-2005. 9343 was painted silver to commemorate Metrobus's 25th anniversary, but was ultimately repainted in to the "third scheme."
WMATA bought additional Orion Vs that were delivered in 1997. These were the first buses to be delivered in the "third scheme" and the first to have CleverDevices installed. They originally came with Vultron destination signs. However, these were very unreliable and difficult to read, and were replaced with orange TwinVision LED signs in the early to mid 2000s. They remain in service, albeit in dwindling numbers, as of late 2015.
In 1999, WMATA ordered 30 foot Orion V buses to operate on some of its lower capacity routes. Like the 1997 Orions, these buses featured Vulton destination signs that were ultimately replaced with TwinVision LED signs due to their unreliability. These buses were retired in 2012 but then continued to operate for Montgomery County Ride On for another two years.
WMATA ordered Orion VII/CNG buses in 2006. Most of these buses were assigned to the Four Mile Run division in Virginia, as that division had recently been modified to handle CNG buses. However, others were assigned to Bladensburg, the only other Metrobus division with CNG fueling capabilities. They were repainted in to the "MetroLocal" and "MetroExtra" paint schemes in 2014.
WMATA ordered its first New Flyer and first CNG buses of any kind in 2002. They have all operated from the Bladensburg Division for the duration of their service lives. These buses were rehabilitated in 2008 and 2009, at which point they were repainted in to the "MetroLocal" scheme. They will be retired upon the arrival of the XN40 buses in 2016. WMATA ordered 25 C40LFR buses in 2007. These were the first buses to appear in a "MetroExtra" scheme of any kind, though it isn't the scheme that is currently being used. As these buses were rehabbed in 2015, they were repainted in to the current "MetroExtra" and "MetroLocal" schemes.
While the District of Columbia and Virginia opted to construct CNG fueling facilities at their Metrobus divisions, Maryland opted not to do so. Instead, Maryland financed the purchase of hybrid electric buses. The first of these buses, the New Flyer DE40LF buses, arrived in 2005 and were rehabbed in 2014 and 2015. The DE40LFR buses arrived in 2006 and were rehabbed in 2013.
The Neoplan AN460A order was made in 2002 and consisted of 21 buses to replace the MAN articulated buses that dated back to the 1980s. These were the last high floor buses that WMATA ever ordered. Only 4 buses were rehabbed due to a lack of parts after Neoplan went out of business, however they were all repainted in to the "MetroLocal" scheme. They spent their entire service lives at Northern Division and will be retired in early 2016 as the New Flyer XDE60 buses arrive.
WMATA ordered NABI 60-BRT articulated buses in 2008 to replacing its aging NABI Ikarus articulated buses. These were the first articulated CNG buses in the WMATA fleet and were also the first to be delivered in the current "MetroLocal"/"MetroExtra" scheme. Their rehabilitation took place starting in 2015.
WMATA ordered 105 NABI hybrid buses that arrived in 2014. Some of them are dedicated to service on the "Metroway" BRT corridor in Crystal City and Alexandria. Additional buses of this type were ordered, but upon New Flyer's takeover of NABI, the remaining units on order were changed to be New Flyer "Xcelsior" buses.
WMATA had a sizable fleet of RTS buses up until their retirement in 2001. However, their tenure was not without issue. At one point, the fleet had to be pulled due to the rear doors opening unexpectedly while the buses were in motion. However, these issues were ultimately resolved and the buses were returned to service. Bus 9112, the only RTS to have a suburban interior configuration, is still in the historic fleet.