Photo Essay: The Metro Rider’s Life

Having ridden the Washington area Metro for about 20 years…

I thought I would share some of what I see as a rider. All of these pictures were taken with my phone camera, so they’re not high quality. But they give you some idea of what it’s like to ride the train in the Washington D.C. area.

Metro station pylon

Metro station pylon

Welcome to Metro! This is just one of the many markers that stand outside the stations to indicate where you are. The stripes mean “Blue Line” and “Yellow Line.”

Underground station

Underground station.

Many of the stations are underground. They were designed with vaulted ceilings so that you don’t feel squeezed into a tunnel, but rather in an airy space. But don’t call it a “subway.” The subway is in New York. Wrong city.

Aboveground station

Aboveground station.

Some of the stations are above ground. The architecture of these stations is not particularly inspiring. But they are functional and durable.

Another aboveground station

Another aboveground station.

This is another above-ground station. It doesn’t look so bad from up here.

Misty morning

Misty morning.

If you board at an above-ground station–like I do–you have to deal with the varieties of weather before you get on the train. Not every day is bright and sunny.

Icy morning

Icy morning.

Some are just plain chilly.

Crowded train

Crowded train.

The trains are usually crowded at rush hour. Sometimes you get a seat; sometimes you don’t.

People reading from smart phones

Folks reading from smart phones.

This is a popular way to pass the time on the train.


Metro train rubber hand grip

Rubber hand grip.

The train cars that are still in service were built over several decades ranging from the 1970s to 2006, and they are showing their age. The 4000-series cars, deployed between 1992 and ’94, feature these nasty-ass rubber hand grips that are now deteriorating. Metro has promising brand new cars, and one train of the new 7000-series cars debuted in April 2015. I can’t wait to see more.

Train offloaded underground

Train offloaded underground.

Metro can be horribly unreliable. More times than I can count, I’ve been on a train that has been offloaded and taken out of service due to some mechanical problem. This offloading can happen indoors, or…

Train offloaded above ground

Train offloaded above ground.


When you’re offloaded, there is nothing to do but wait. And stare at the walls.

Train whizzing out of the station.

Train whizzing out of the station.

Beware of the third rail.

Beware of the third rail.

…or the track.

But in spite of all this, I still ride the Metro. It beats driving. And I have lots of time to sit and think.




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