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Automatic door-opening returns to Metro’s Red Line in July

The change is expected to make Red Line rides a bit faster

A Red Line train at the Metro Center station
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Stepping onto Red Line trains could get a little easier beginning July 7, when Metro says it will reintroduce automatic door-opening to the line. That function helps facilitate boarding by removing the need for conductors to manually operate railcar doors after trains pull into Metrorail stations—something that conductors do over 20,000 times a weekday, per Metro.

As a release from the transit agency explained Wednesday: “When in automatic-door mode, the train receives data on its exact location from transmitters located on the track. After the train comes to a complete stop and is confirmed to be properly ‘berthed’ at the platform, the doors are automatically opened on the appropriate side of the train.” Metro conductors will still have to command railcar doors to close when trains are ready to depart from platforms.

In addition to speeding up boarding, automatic door-opening eliminates “the potential for human error resulting in a ‘wrong side’ door opening,” notes Metro. Such incidents led the transit agency to suspend the function a few years ago, but it has recently conducted tests and trained conductors to ensure that the function can be brought back safely. Metro adds that it will roll out automatic door-opening on the rail system’s five other lines later in 2019.