This change — years in the making — could shave seconds off your Metro trip for every stop you make

A change to the way doors open on Metrorail cars is being rolled out across the transit system Monday — and it could save you several seconds for every stop on your trip.

Doors that automatically open once a train pulls into a station have been cleared to use throughout the entire system starting Monday, Metro said. The move comes five years after Metro previously tried to revive automatic door operations and then abruptly suspended the feature after doors started unexpectedly closing.

Metro said customers will find they can enter and exit rail cars more quickly with automatic doors, with doors opening within 3-5 seconds after trains come to a stop on the platform. Metro said the shift could save riders up to 10 seconds per Metro stop.

While the doors will open automatically, train operators will still manually close train doors before pulling out of the station.

Metro began rolling out the feature on Red Line trains in December.

“Auto Doors on the Red Line has been very successful with more than 1.3 million safe door openings since launching last year,” said Metro General Manager Randy Clarke in a statement. “With Auto Doors, we’ve achieved better schedule consistency and now we’re excited to bring this safety and convenience improvement to all our customers.”

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission gave the OK to expand the feature to all rail lines after Metro spent weeks certifying rail operators to use the feature, according to Metro.

The technology behind the automatic doors is already onboard trains and makes sure trains are safely stopped on the platform before doors open.

Without automatic doors, rail operators have to wait several seconds after pulling into a station to triple-check the doors are opening on the correct side before manually opening them. And even then, there were cases of human error over the years, with train doors opening on the wrong side of the tracks.

Metro said the shift to automatic doors is a “critical step” in returning the system to what’s known as “automatic train operation” — similar to autopilot in planes — that was halted in 2009 after the deadly Red Line crash that killed nine people.

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Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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