The exact details are not yet known, but some Bethesda business leaders are celebrating today after a Metro official told them the transit system would be testing out some new station features at the Bethesda station during a meeting this morning.
“Bethesda is one of the economic engines for Montgomery County and the first experience many people have in Bethesda is coming up that Metro,” said real estate agent Jane Fairweather, a member of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce’s Metro Improvement Task Force. “How sad, it’s pretty awful. It is the hello for strangers, the handshake welcome to Bethesda and it’s critical for our businesses. It’s critical for our public image.”
Fairweather and many of the roughly 15 members of the Task Force would like that image to be brighter, which is why she anticipates new lighting and ceiling tiles might be a part of the station redesign.
This story was first reported by Bethesda Patch, which cited a Metro spokesman as saying no details had yet been determined. But Chamber CEO Ginanne Italiano told Patch the pilot program will be named the “Metro Station of the Future,” and WMATA has decided to try it in Bethesda in part because of the massive escalator replacement coming next year.
Fairweather said the group was ecstatic upon hearing the news from a Metro community liaison. The same group played a large part in creating the award-winning Tunnel Vision art display in the tunnel connecting Metro entrances on each side of Wisconsin Avenue.
“We’ve been working on this for three years, not just this being a pilot but on improving the Metro,” Fairweather said.
Fairweather said early indications also have Metro installing a new station manager’s kiosk around the gate area.
“I think it’s going to get transformed,” Fairweather said. “It’s an essential part of what gets people to want to live here, come here, shop here, eat here. Metro is our link and we’re trying to get people out of their cars. So when you want people to get out of their cars, you have to make that a good experience.”