If you're a regular Metro rider and you've boarded a 7000-series new train recently, you may have noticed over the past few weeks that the automated train announcement has changed. Until recently, the automated announcement that played said, “This is a (color) line train to (terminus station).”
Now the trains say, “This is a 7000-series train.” Sometimes the announcement stops at that, and sometimes a longer announcement plays that also includes the old announcement's information, albeit announcing that it's a 7000-series train first:
I personally noticed this change recently, and asked on Twitter about it. The new announcement, in case you missed the connection, is tied to the ongoing hazard dating back to at least 2016 that 7000-series trains present for visually-impaired riders. Some riders who use walking canes to navigate have mistaken the gap between railcars for doorways and fallen through.
In fact, in case you missed it (like I did), GGWash's own Metro Reasons covered this change in mid-July:
In keeping with what Metro told GGWash in June, the agency still expects to begin retrofitting chains onto the 7000-series cars in August. The chains are intended to close gaps between cars through which three riders have fallen. The Federal Transit Agency (FTA) ordered Metro to fix the issue on all 7000s by the end of this year, although Metro says it won’t likely won’t make that deadline.
The agency began rolling out an automated announcement the week of July 10 so that now all 7000-series cars say “This is a 7000-series railcar” before the doors open at each stop. The announcement is temporary and is intended “to identify 7000-series trains for blind and visually impaired riders,” Metro said in a statement. “Once permanent modifications are made to standardize the barriers, the announcements will be discontinued.”
“WMATA informed FTA it would begin making announcements onboard the 7000-series cars as one means to educate its passengers regarding this safety issue,” wrote an FTA spokesperson in a statement to GGWash. The FTA is reviewing WMATA's “work plan submission” which details how they plan to minimize the risk of the between-car gaps, and the agency “will respond to WMATA once our review is complete.”
An unscientific poll of MetroReasons’ Twitter followers indicates most are aware why the announcement is being made, although this knowledge rate would likely be lower across the entire rider base.
Ancedotal reports suggest that in addition to the announcements, WMATA personnel are individually informing visually-impaired riders of 7000-series cars (if not why that matters), as well:
However, rider was new to D.C. and nobody understood why operator did that. He didn't explain why. So I did.— z (@zebrafinch) July 27, 2018
Thank you, @zebrafinch.
In case you, like I, had apparently been living under a rock, now you know.