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Metro says it plans to bring automatic train operation (ATO) back to the Washington, D.C. area in 2019, reports Faiz Siddiqui. The computerized train system was pulled offline in 2009 after the Red Line accident that killed nine people, though ATO was not the cause of the crash.
The agency says that use of ATO will improve travel for Metro users by decreasing headways and making rides smoother. To address safety concerns about the reintroduction of ATO, Metro plans to disable the technology outside of rush hour and to train system operators on its use. Metro also will start using an automatic door system, which will decrease delays at stations and improve safety.
“ATO’s restoration is part of a suite of initiatives [Metro General Manager Paul J.] Wiedefeld plans to introduce for the coming year — including mobile payment through a dedicated app and SmarTrip ride credits for anyone whose trip is 10 minutes later than Metro estimates,” says Siddiqui.