WASHINGTON, D.C. — A replica of the next generation of Metro train cars, the 8000 series, is on display on the National Mall.

The Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority has a full-size model from “The Fleet of the Future Expo” open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April 3.

I visited the display recently near the Smithsonian Metro and checked it out.

The 8000 (and partial 8001) model looks sleeker than the existing 1000-6000 and 7000 series cars. The exterior has hexagon designs in various shades of blue and black. It’s more colorful than the 7000 series that went with a much blander look.

The headlights and taillights are distinctive slashes instead of the traditional circles.

Inside, there are more bench seats against the wall rather than the perpendicular configuration Metro riders are used to. I’m kind of skeptical that’s a good idea as ridership is still down considerably post-pandemic. There are also parts of the car that have floor markings for strollers, luggage and bicycles. Oh and the floor is heated which never occurred to me. Sounds like doing something just because you can.

Some walls have artwork of the Capitol and oddly enough, the Mormon Temple which is not visible from a Metro train so far as I know. The hexagonal motif is used throughout. There are new screens, including some in the shape of an oversized smartphone.

The big innovation is open gangways between cars like an articulated bus.

Overall, it’s a good look car, but left unsaid is why the 8000 series is a whole new design only decade or so after the 2nd-generation 7000 cars.

There is also an electric bus parked nearby. It’s similar to existing buses, it just runs on batteries instead of gas.

Shiny new rail cars and buses are great, so long as their is funding to support operations. That’s still an open question for the next fiscal year. I have contacted my legislators, but worry that Virginia’s governor will veto Metro funding

READ MORE: Save the 8W and 21C Metrobus lines

I posted more photos from Fleet of the Future Expo on flickr.

The model is underneath a tent and includes ramps. The line was pretty long when I visited on a Sunday midday. It took us about 40 minutes in line to see it. I was surprised there was that much interest, but ultimately heartened by it. By the way, if you are on crutches or in a wheelchair, ask to move to the front of the line – they were letting people in those situations ahead when we were there.

The expo includes sandwich boards with vintage photos as well as charts of where parts for the 8000 series cars are being built across the U.S. It gives you something too look at when you are waiting.

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