1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Washington Metro Security

What You Need to Know to Respond to an Emergency on Metrorail


The Washington Metrorail has systems and processes in place to handle emergency situations. When you ride Metro, you should know what to do and how to be prepared if an emergency situation arises. You should always be aware of your surroundings. For your security, Metro Transit Police officers are at the stations and on trains and buses. Call boxes are located at the end of each rail car and every 800 feet along the tracks. Dial "0" to speak to Metro. You can also call the Metro Transit Police at (202) 962-2121.

Metrorail Emergency Evacuation Tips

  • Listen to the train operator's instructions. The train operator will let you know if it is necessary to evacuate and how to proceed.

  • Do not open doors unless instructed to do so. The emergency door release is to the left of the center car doors. To open doors, lift the cover, pull the handle and slide the left door open.

  • If you are inside a tunnel or on an elevated track, there is an Emergency Trip Station (ETS) with a Call Box marked with a blue light every 800 feet. Dial "0" to speak to Metro. Listen for announcements and proceed to the nearest station if directed by Metro.

  • Inside the stations, the Passenger Information Displays provide up-to-date information in an emergency. The station manager will also provide emergency instructions over the public address system.

Metrorail Fire Protection

Fire protection systems are built into Metrorail cars, stations and other fire-sensitive areas in case of an explosion or fire. Fire extinguishers are located on all Metrorail trains and seat cushions and carpets on all Metrorail cars are constructed with fire retardant materials.

Metro's Automatic Train Control (ATC) rooms meet strict fire code regulations. These rooms have heat detectors, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Additionally, they have alarms so that if an alarm is triggered, Metro Transit Police are dispatched to investigate. Metro's mechanical rooms are constructed of concrete and steel with fire-rated walls and fire retardant cable feed connectors between each room and through the floor.

Metrorail Ventilation Systems

Metro's ventilation system in its stations and tunnels are designed to pull smoke out of stations when activated so that customers, employees and first responders can exit safely and quickly.

The ventilation system will cause smoke to dissipate, allowing people to see in darkened tunnels, with the aid of emergency lighting. Without the ventilation system, thick smoke would hinder people's ability to exit safely.

Metrorail Emergency Safeguards

  • Emergency intercoms inside each rail car at either end of the car, can be used to report suspicious or unusual activity, or unattended items to the train operator.

  • Each rail car next to the center doors have detailed emergency procedures on how to evacuate a train.

  • Each rail car has three sets of emergency doors that can be utilized if an emergency occurs.

  • Emergency call boxes are located at the ends of all station platforms and are located every 800 feet along the tracks. Marked by blue lights, these boxes provide a hotline into the Operations Control Center and a button for bringing down third-rail power in extreme emergencies.

  • Emergency exits are located every 2,500 feet in Metrorail tunnels and are marked with lighted exit signs. The staircases lead to overhead doors which can be easily pushed to reach the surface.

  • Call boxes are mounted on pylons on station platforms to enable passengers to report emergencies to the station manager.

  • Closed circuit video cameras cover every area of a Metrorail station. Monitors are located in the station manager's kiosk.

  • Every Metrorail station has bomb containment trash cans near faregates and farecard machines. Later this year, bomb containment trash cans will return to station platforms.

  • All members of the Metro Transit Police Department, rail supervisors, station managers and rail operators are trained in first aid procedures, including CPR and the heimlich maneuver.

  • As part of their job, on-going safety training is required for train operators, station managers and operations supervisors.

Mock Disaster Drills

Metro conducts occasional mock disaster drills and also provides intensive training for local fire and police departments on procedures for responding to Metro emergencies, such as fires or explosions.

Random Inspections

In December 2009 the Metro Transit Police began random inspections of carry-on items at Metrorail stations. The program is part of the continuously changing law enforcement programs designed to keep the system safe. Metro Transit Police conduct the inspections in conjunction with Transportation Security Administration officials.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.